Mindfulness & Stress Management Coaching
A fresh approach to
managing anxiety and stress
Mindfulness is a simple method of responding to stress from a balanced, steady perspective. It allows us to respond to challenges with less reactivity, and more resilience. It helps employees stay more focused and productive; it helps parents respond rather than react; it helps us all deal more skillfully with challenges both inside and outside ourselves. Practitioners learn to struggle less with upsetting emotions and situations, better accept things beyond their control, spend less time lost in future worries or past regrets, and to be more focused, positive and productive in the present moment.
Mindfulness is based in the common-sense idea that how we react to stressful things matters a lot. We learn to see the ways stress is self-generated in unhelpful reactions, and learn to diminish them. Once we learn this method, we’re able to apply it to any challenging situation we meet- rather than trying to avoid challenges, which keeps us small and living defensively. We’re more free to experience life, including its difficulties, with less fear.
Mindfulness has been proven effective for individuals and organizations. In therapy, clients use mindfulness to reduce self-judgment, impulsivity, addictive behavior, mood swings, and interrupt cycles of anxiety and depression. It helps clients respond more helpfully to physical and emotional pain, to loss and agitated emotions, and to become more comfortable with uncertainty. It increases interpersonal empathy, and helps us handle relationship conflicts more skillfully. It helps therapists relate more helpfully to their clients, too!
I often combine Mindfulness instruction with techniques from yoga, so the student can be aided by the body in their effort to better balance the mind and nervous system. Clients learn yogic breathing practices, which research shows helps produce an important measure of resilience in the nervous system called Heart Rate Variability or HRV. By changing unhelpful breath patterns, we begin to guide the autonomic nervous system to a steady, more resilient state and improved HRV, which is associated with lower depression, anxiety, addiction, and even inflammation and other physical problems.
Organizations are increasingly offering mindfulness training to their members. It has been shown to support creativity and cooperation among team members, increase efficiency and job satisfaction, and reduce absenteeism and health care costs.
The effectiveness of Mindfulness is increasingly understood by researchers who study the brain and nervous system. Studies have consistently shown it is associated with reduced biological markers of stress, including blood pressure and heart rate and increase key measures of emotional and physical resilience such as heart rate variability. It’s associated with balanced, helpful brain patterns and levels of stress hormones, along with other benefits. It’s a hands-on method to better tune the mind and nervous system to support us rather than hinder us.
Mindfulness is taught through a simple, step-by-step process that’s both verbal and experiential. Most students can begin practicing after one instructional session. It creates both short-term and long-term benefits for most people, and its benefits accrue over time.
Anxiety, Panic and the Mind/Body Approach
It’s all too easy for the nervous system to get stuck in fight or flight mode. When this happens people find their nervous system over-reacting to normal, everyday stresses, and they feel pretty out of control. The good news is there are simple, direct ways to influence the nervous system to move out of fight/flight, and you can learn them. One of them is using the breath differently. For example, researchers have discovered that there are receptors in the upper lung areas that are linked to the fight/flight or stress response. When people are stressed, their breathing tends to become short and shallow, reinforcing the stress response. But when we learn to breathe more fully and slowly, we access receptors in the lower lungs, which are linked to the relaxation response. This sends signals to the central nervous system that things are okay- and it triggers a reduction in heart rate, blood pressure and helpful changes in the blood hormonal mix. In this way, something as simple as the breath lets the user access the control panel of the nervous system. They feel less out of control, more empowered and encouraged. They begin to experience for themselves that the nervous system is workable, and stuck patterns of stress can shift. They literally breathe a sigh of relief.
Anxiety, stress and panic manifest in the body, as physical sensations, yet are interactive with thoughts. I teach clients specific techniques to interrupt the cycle of anxious thoughts producing anxious sensations, which then produce more anxious thoughts. Clients learn to respond differently to thoughts, emotions and sensations, stepping out of the negative cycle in a way that is empowering and soothing. They learn to struggle less with what they feel and think. We may use breathwork, progressive body relaxation, or yoga practices to stabilize the nervous system. To change the thought aspect of the anxiety, we work with changing beliefs about feelings and learn to interrupt anxiety-producing thinking. Depending on their willingness to work on it, many clients find fast relief from these interventions.
Buddha Mind Skills Group
A great way to learn to work with anxiety more effectively is the Buddha Mind Skills Group. The support, warmth, and humor of these groups can be a great way to change your relationship to anxiety. Members benefit from hearing about others’ struggles, where they get stuck, and how they get traction. Most member say that not having to struggle with anxiety in isolation is enormously encouraging and helpful. The group focus is learning the skills, practices and ideas of mindfulness, as it relates to managing anxiety responses. We practice mindfulness meditation, with the opportunity to get individual attention and ask questions. The group is offered at different points of the year and usually runs for 10 or 12 weeks per session, 90 minutes per week. The fee is $60 per week.
For information about the next start date of a Buddha Mind group, please click here to contact me.
Mindfulness classes for organzations
Mindfulness is a research-proven stress-management methodology that can be a potent change agent in a group of co-workers or students. It’s effectiveness in reducing stress, managing emotions and supporting mental and physical resilience can be multiplied when a community undertakes learning the practices together. A momentum and shared mission grows, and members support each other to learn, explore and share victories.
Classes can be tailored to virtually any setting and the special needs, challenges and goals of any community. I’ve taught mindfulness courses in a wide variety of settings, including:
-The MIT Sloan School of Management
-Cambridge Public Housing
-The MGH/Partners Hospitals
-The Boston Archdiocese office supporting victims of clergy abuse
-Boston University and Boston College continuing education programs for professionals
-Temple Israel, Brookline, Massachusetts
To discuss bringing a mindfulness program to your setting, contact me at:
Other Areas of Specialty
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What Clients Say:
Doug, the words ‘thank you’ don’t seem to be enough to tell you that you’ve helped me to be comfortable in my own skin and realize who I am.