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Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction


Mindfulness-based interventions are therapeutic practices that are considered to be immeasurably beneficial for people’s mental and physical health. Interventions are offered individually and in groups, and they are designed to assist people with psychological problems, stress, and other mental conditions. The purpose of this work is to investigate one of the mindfulness-based interventions, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and evaluate its efficiency through the review of scientific articles. The paper examines the relevance between this practice and the mechanisms of action in mindfulness as well.

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Summary of the Intervention

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is an evidence-based interventional program that provides intensive mindfulness training to help people who suffer from pain, anxiety, and depression. This course was created by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, in 1979 (Kabat-Zinn, 2017). According to the Center for Mindfulness (2017), 24,000 people have already completed MBSR since its inception to learn “how to use their innate resources and abilities to respond more effectively to stress, pain, and illness” (para. 1). This program is defined as a practical approach to the issues of inner power and self-control. It develops people’s attention and helps them to cultivate awareness and encourage decision-making. MBSR is implemented “in the form of an 8-week, 10-session course comprised of 31 hours of direct instruction” (Kabat-Zinn, 2017, p.4). All participants exercise in groups that may consist of 15-40 persons (Kabat-Zinn, 2017). The course is a combination of meditation, yoga, body awareness, and the study of thinking, feeling, behavioral, and action patterns.

The core elements and theoretical concepts of MBSR are based upon numerous scientific investigations and clinical experience. The program ultimately focuses on the “mindfulness meditation and its integration into the challenges/adventures of everyday life” (Center for Mindfulness, n.d., para. 3). According to recent clinical researches, mindfulness meditation has a highly substantial positive effect on human health, such as relaxation, stress reduction, and life quality improvement (Center for Mindfulness, n.d.). MBSR program demonstrates the reliable and consistent results of the clinically relevant reduction in psychological and medical symptoms of various chronic pain conditions, anxiety, and panic attacks (Center for Mindfulness, n.d.). People who completed the course are observed an increased sense of self-esteem and self-in-relationship and an ability to act effectively in highly stressful situations.

Examination of the MBSR Efficacy

The efficiency of MBSR in reducing pain and stress symptoms is confirmed by multiple empirical studies. Carlson et al. (2013) conducted research to evaluate and compare the efficacy of MBSR and supportive-expressive group therapy (SET) for the survivors of breast cancer. For this investigation, 271 distressed breast cancer survivors were divided into two intervention groups for “a 1-day stress management control condition” that included 18 hours of interaction with professionals (Carlson et al., 2013, p. 3119). According to collected measures, women in MBSR substantively improved in stress symptoms and life quality in comparison with the participants from the SET group. From a personal perspective, the findings of this research are reliable as MBCR may be defined as a superior practice of stress reduction and social support for people who suffer from severe chronic diseases.

MBSR is highly effective for the control of diseases that are caused by stress as well. The research conducted by Zernicke et al. (2013) in Calgary, Canada, was determined to investigate the impact of the MBSR program on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Scientists tested the hypothesis that MBSR helped patients to reduce the symptoms of IBS with the help of 90 participants who suffered from this disease (Zernicke et al., 2013). Patients evaluated their mood, the level of stress, IBS symptom severity, and life quality before and after the completion of the MBSR program. According to received results, participants in the MBSR group had a substantial decrease in symptom severity and general improvement of mood and life quality. The findings of this study are clinically meaningful as they demonstrate the efficacy of MBSR for the reduction of stress symptoms and IBS symptom severity. The improvements are maintained in the post-intervention period of six months as well.

Mechanism of Action in the MBSR Practice

It goes without saying that MBSR as the practice of mindfulness intervention is highly effective for the improvement of the patients’ state and quality of their lives. Concerning possible mechanisms of mindfulness that may explain its efficacy, the mechanism of reperceiving may be relevant to MBSR. This mechanism of action substantially contributes to the transformational effect and perspective shift in mindfulness that result in a positive outcome for people. Reperceiving includes additional mechanisms of action such as self-regulation, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional flexibility, values clarification, and exposure.

The MBSR practice combines mindfulness meditation, body awareness, and yoga to teach patients how to reduce the level of stress in difficult life situations and make appropriate decisions. It provides insight into feeling, behavioral, and thinking patterns to establish self-relationship, encourage the patients’ exploration of their identity and improve self-esteem as well. The reviewed scientific empirical articles confirm the efficacy of the MBSR program for people who suffer from chronic diseases. MBSR is based on the mindfulness mechanism of self-regulation, exposure, and emotional flexibility.

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When patients start to explore their bodies and minds with the help of meditations and yoga, they learn to control their emotions that result in substantial stress reduction. Body awareness is developed through the course of MBSR when participants explore their bodies through the experiences of body sensations, breathing, and emotions. The practice of mindfulness meditation increases not only body but emotional awareness as well that leads to the improvement of life quality. People start to notice their bodies’ sensations more distinctively and observe the impact of food and drinks on their emotional state.

Moreover, the mechanism of values clarification may be applicable for the MBSR intervention as well. Stress may be defined as a physiological and psychological imbalance that occurs from the substantial disparity between individual demands, motivation, abilities, and the actual situation. MBSR is extremely beneficial if it encourages self-evaluation and self-exploration that help to reconsider values and remove the focus from insignificant issues that cause stress. Attention regulation, such as its reorientation from specific problems, is an essential mechanism of mindfulness meditation that is practiced during the course of MBSR as well.


Mindfulness-based stress reduction is an interventional 8-week program that provides intensive mindfulness training to people with stress, depression, and anxiety. It combines mindfulness meditation, body awareness, and yoga. According to numerous scientific researches, the MBSR program is immeasurably beneficial for stress reduction that leads to positive health income for people with severe chronic diseases. In addition, people improve self-esteem and life quality, explore their identity, and learn to control their emotions. Such mechanisms of actions, as the reorientation of attention, self-regulation, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional flexibility, values clarification, and exposure, are relevant to MBSR.


Carlson, L. E., Doll, R., Stephen, J., Faris, P., Tamagawa, R., Drysdale,E., & Speca, M. (2013). Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based cancer recovery versus supportive expressive group therapy for distressed survivors of breast cancer (MINDSET). Journal of Clinical Oncology, 31(25), 3119-3126. Web.

Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society. (n.d.). History of MBSR. Web.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2017). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): Authorized curriculum guide. S. F. Santorelli, F. Meleo-Meyer, & L. Koerbel (Eds.). Worcester, MA: University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Zernicke, K. A., Campbell, T. S., Blustein, P. K., Fung, T. S., Johnson, J. A., Bacon, S. L., & Carlson, L. E. (2013). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms: A randomized wait-list controlled trial. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 20(3), 385-396. Web.

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