Case Study: A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Stress Reduction

(Last Updated On: March 30, 2021)

Everyone talks about mindfulness, the concept of consciousness or meditation for skeptics, which reduces stress levels and gives meaning to life. Together with the case study writing service, we have selected entertaining stories of using this practice in real life. We tell you what it means to live consciously and why it is taught to Google employees and navy seals.

What is mindfulness?

It is essentially a scientifically-based approach to meditation and effective practice for training attention, mindfulness skills, and stress management. Mindfulness is often referred to as fitness for the mind. British parliamentarians take an eight-week course in mindfulness (last year, the UK even hosted the first summit bringing together politicians who use the mindfulness approach in their work). In the US, mindfulness skills are practiced by police officers, Navy SEALs, and FBI, and CIA personnel. Nike, Google, Facebook, Apple, Intel, and many other corporations practice meditation without leaving the workplace. Mindfulness is part of the education system at Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford Universities.

How was mindfulness born?

There is a separate concept in Western psychology called mindfulness, which was proposed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a biologist, and professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts in the 1980s. The concept implies that we have rudiments on the way to maximum mindfulness and need to develop them.

The scholar based his methodology on Buddhist meditation (and this caused skepticism from his colleagues). However, Jon Kabat-Zinn completely removed the religious context from it and introduced it into medical practice. What are the similarities between mindfulness and meditation? Both teach a complete shift of attention to the present moment without any evaluation of self or reality. Both can be called mindfulness training and attention training.

mindfulness stressJohn Kabat-Zinn opened his own clinic where he worked with patients on the MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) program, an eight-week stress reduction course based on mindfulness practices. MBSR is now considered the gold standard and is used in cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, and its effectiveness has been confirmed by scientific research. For example, in 2011, a neurophysiologist from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School conducted an experiment that proved that MBSR changes the structure of the brain. A group of participants who took the classic MBSR course (2.5 hours of mindfulness practice in a group once a week and 45-60 minutes a week at home) for eight weeks showed amazing results in the MRI. They increased the cortical thickness of the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory, and the areas of the brain that play an important role in emotion management and self-identification processes. There was also a decrease in the volume of cells in the amygdala, which is responsible for anxiety and fear. So why is it possible to achieve these results through mindfulness practices? The fact is that our brain, as scientists recently proved, is neuroplastic. It is capable of changing under the influence of external experience.

By the way, the participants themselves also confirmed that their stress levels decreased after the course, which means that the subjective perception of what is going on in life also changes for the better after mindfulness training.

How to try mindfulness right now?

  • The first exercise in the MBSR program is called raisin meditation. But of course, you can replace raisins with any other product that you like. For example, take a small piece of chocolate in your hand and shift all your attention to it. Touch it, feel what it is, what shape it has, what sensations the surface of the chocolate evokes, think about the uniqueness of this piece. Imagine that you are an explorer, and this piece is the subject of your research. Then turn your attention to the scent of the chocolate, and spend an appropriate amount of time with it as well. Then place the piece on your tongue so that it begins to melt. Listen to the sensations in your mouth. There can be up to three hundred different flavors in one bar; try to pick out some of them. If you notice you’re distracted, simply identify what it is that’s distracting you, and go back to tasting. When the chocolate has completely melted, slowly swallow it. How did it make you feel? Did the chocolate taste better to you this time than if you had eaten it at your normal rate? The Mindful Eating method is the basis of the Mindful Eating program for people with food addictions and eating disorders. Through mindfulness skills, they learn how to eat right and not overeat. Because when we eat mindfully and slowly, we need much smaller portions to feel full.
  • Conscious Listening. How often are we fully present in what our interlocutor is saying? Even during an important conversation, while listening, we are simultaneously evaluating, thinking about our own thoughts, and planning. Try to focus as much as possible on the speaker’s words during a conversation. You will see how practicing the skill of conscious listening will change the quality of communication, you will pay attention to many nuances you didn’t notice before, and you will begin to hear better between words. Try to learn to be 100% present in your interlocutor’s story.

You can make up your own conscious rituals. When you wake up or go to sleep, try to take at least five mindful breaths and exhales. Do a mindfulness practice out of your morning cup of coffee. If you don’t have the patience and interest to drink all of your coffee consciously, take at least the first sip consciously. Red light in traffic? Breathe deeply and watch your breath. Are you going to wash your hands? Do it consciously, too, feel the texture of the water, the soap. Brush your teeth consciously, feeling the movement of the brush in your mouth. Even during these short practices, your autopilot will get in your way, and your thoughts will wander. Determine what is distracting you and bring your focus back to your practice. Mindfulness is primarily a practice, not a theory. You can read many books and watch all the videos on Youtube, but without real (and constant!) Practice theory will be ineffective.

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