Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Courses in San Luis Obispo
With Mick Malotte, MD
Mindfulness Skills for Resilience and Joy
One of my favorite meditation teachers, Jack Kornfield, was once asked what his favorite virtue was. It was joy. He said, “I love being with those who have a joyful heart even though they have considered the facts.”
And the facts are that this living a human life is not always so easy. Our life journey includes quite a range of joys and difficulties. There is unspeakable beauty, even in small moments. Watching a child play, the happiness of people being together and the amazing movement of birds and clouds. And we also encounter difficulties, sometimes extreme, like illness, sadness, and loss.
This raises a big question. How can we be joyful even though we have considered all the facts? How do we live with stability, dignity, and contentment in the midst of all these ups and downs?
This question led Jon Kabat-Zinn, in the 1970s, to develop the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program which started the mindfulness revolution. MBSR is now taught all over the world in diverse fields such as healthcare, education, sports, the military, and even government. For example, twenty percent of members of the United Kingdom parliament have taken an MBSR course.
MBSR is the most scientifically studied meditation approach. People with this training have measurable changes in their brains. They don’t get as perturbed in difficult situations. They settle down and return to a balanced state more quickly. They are less preoccupied and more able to enjoy the present moment. They live more in positive mind states like kindness, joy and generosity. And they worry less. Research also finds a decrease in markers of inflammation and slower cellular ageing.
What is mindfulness training?
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an eight-week program that helps us learn to use our own internal resources to live with more peace and joy in the midst of the ups and downs of life.
This skill of present-moment awareness, developed through mindfulness meditation, helps us experience whatever is happening in our life as it unfolds with curiosity and care. This allows more skillful and creative responses, and insight into how to free ourselves from habitual patterns of reacting.
This course consists of a free introductory session followed by eight weekly classes and one day-long workshop on a weekend.
In MBSR we learn by doing. The course includes:
Guided instruction in several mindfulness meditation practices.
Gentle mindful yoga, which can be tailored for nearly everyone.
Daily home practices for bringing mindfulness into daily life.
Guided audio recordings of the various meditation practices.
These workshops are suitable for all levels of experience.
To see course dates and reserve a space see Upcoming Courses.
More on Mindfulness Practice
Mindfulness is a normal human capacity. However, it can be developed much more than most people realize, and to great benefit. Mindfulness is an executive function of the brain, the ability to know, in real time, where attention is, and to be aware of physical sensations, thoughts and emotions as they arise. Jon Kabat Zinn, an early pioneer in applying mindfulness practice to healthcare, also defines mindfulness as a “moment to moment nonjudgmental awareness to the present unfolding of experience.”
When developed, this ability brings a spaciousness around the usual stressors in life while at the same time a more direct immersion in whatever is happening. We learn to notice more fully what is actually happening in our body, heart, mind, with others and our situation, instead of getting lost in thoughts and emotions. So, instead of being on automatic pilot or in a reactive state of mind we are able to be more present for our lives.
This allows us to live from a more stable and resourceful place. A place of calm and of caring. Our happiness, well-being, and effectiveness are strengthened. With practice we can come to live with more joy, even in the midst of all the inevitable ups and downs of life. People who undertake mindfulness training are often surprised by the nuances, the heart, and the depth of these capacities of heart and mind. All this takes is practice.
Benefits are seen with just a few minutes of meditation practice each day together with bringing the practice into normal daily activities.
The field of neuroscience has begun seriously studying this approach, finding significant benefits and observable changes in the brain. This is why we are seeing these practices being applied in healthcare, business, education, sports, and even the military and government.
This capacity of mindful attention and care is best learned face to face in a class series from a qualified teacher. It is not so much about learning information, but more a practicing in different ways and situations.
Mick's passion is in making deep rooted mindfulness practices accessible, relevant and helpful to those engaged in modern life.
He has been practicing and studying mediation for more than 25 years, is married, has raised two children and works as a physician. This has afforded plenty of opportunities to apply this practice to daily life.
Mick was trained to teach meditation through Spirit Rock Meditation Center, one of the most respected meditation centers. He graduated from their CDL teacher training program, and leads a Spirit Rock affiliated meditation group in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday evenings at the White Heron Sangha.
He has also been trained to teach secular Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) through the University of California San Diego's Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute and is a Certified Teacher of MBSR.
Additionally, Mick trained at the University of Rochester to lead mindfulness practices for healthcare professionals and graduated from their Mindful Practice Facilitator Training.
Mick also leads a modification of MBSR called Enhanced Stress Resilience Training (ESRT) for healthcare professionals. ESRT was developed by UCSF surgeon Dr. Carter Lebares. Mick is an instructor with the UCSF Center for Mindfulness in Surgery. He leads these sessions for physicians at UCSF, UCLA, UW, and to groups of academic physicians from all over the US and UK.
Mick offers three different mindfulness activities:
1. Traditional Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Courses. These are available to anyone who is interested and are offered several times a year. To find out more see upcoming courses or contact Mick.
2. A modification of MBSR called Enhanced Stress Resilience Training (ESRT) which is specifically designed for health care professionals.
3. A weekly meditation practice group called Mindfulness for Everyone every Wednesday evening at the White Heron Sangha in Avila Village. All are welcome to attend. There is no registration or fee for this practice group. Feel free to drop in any time. Contact Mick with any questions.
Mick's guided meditations can be found on the free app Insight Timer.