Background

Stress Reduction Training (SRT) provides experiential programs modeled after the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course taught at the nationally acclaimed Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. That course has served more than 15,000 people with a variety of conditions including heart disease, chronic pain, stress-related gastrointestinal problems, headaches, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, anxiety and panic. Students receive intensive training in several mindfulness meditation techniques and explore mindfulness of their bodies through gentle yoga and qigong exercises. This training experience has been shown to produce long-lasting physical and psychological symptom reduction as well as deep positive changes in attitude, behavior and perception of self.

It has been known for decades that when confronted by a threat the body produces chemicals that have a profound impact such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and respiration rate. By providing increased strength, agility, and stamina at critical moments, such as when confronted by a physical threat, this response plays a valuable role in maintaining our survival. However, the “stress response” is the same whether the threat is physical or emotional, real or imagined. In today’s high pressure, achievement oriented society the stress response can be triggered almost continuously. Other conditions such as chronic physical and/or emotional pain can also over activate the stress response.

Although helpful and necessary in measured doses, after years of chronic activation the stress response can lead to a whole cadre of physical problems including: headaches, impaired memory, a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, skin problems, and digestive difficulties. Emotional problems including depression, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness and despair can also result.

The ancient meditation techniques and physical exercises learned during the program have been shown to be an effective antidote for everything from depression to chronic pain. Over the past several decades the body of scientific research supporting the efficacy of this approach to health care has been growing. These techniques are currently taught at many hospitals and clinics throughout the world.

SRT provides a number of programs designed specifically to meet the needs of the client. However, just like at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, SRT’s flagship course consists of a 9-week program. Participants meet for two and one half hours each week for nine weeks. The first week is an overview class; specific techniques are presented and discussed during the remaining eight weeks. The program also includes a 7-hour retreat, which is typically scheduled on the weekend between class six and seven.

Each of the programs is simple but not easy. There is a certain amount of energy and effort required just to sit, meditate, and be who you are. Most people discover the commitment to complete the program is well worth the effort. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, the German poet, playwright, and novelist puts it this way:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.

Begin it now."

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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