How Can an MBSR Retreat Help Destress You?
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By Peter Calin, guest contributor
Polish your heart with meditation and quietness. Let the inner life [light] grow generous and handsome.
The past 15 months, our mental health has been severely challenged by the fears and uncertainties caused by the pandemic, economic loss and uncertainty, political and social unrest, environmental calamities, and much more. Today, just for a moment, take some time to focus on how stress has affected your mental, physical and emotional health? In choosing to practice mindfulness, you begin to embody a scientifically evidenced antidote to the insidious effects of all kinds of stress and the maladies and afflictions that accompany it.
Normally, stress is the way your body prepares itself to respond to a perceived imminent threat. This process starts in the central nervous system, activating a response to the perceived stressful moment. The hypothalamus activates the adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline both of which induce the body to send blood where it’s most needed (heart and muscles) to optimize the physiological response to the threat. However, when the perception of that threat is gone, the body is left with the unused residue of cortisol and adrenaline. Our bodies are hard-wired for short doses of cortisol and adrenaline to deal with threats and danger. When there is continuous and chronic stimulation of this nature, we have stress and other health issues. It produces cortisol/adrenaline surplus that does not serve the body or mind well, often stimulating undesirable cellular growth and immunity disorders.
MBSR, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, is an antidote. It’s all part of a bigger plan, a larger intention to optimize mental, physical, and emotional health and wellbeing. Learning, practicing, embodying MBSR develops the capacity, the skill to be present moment-to-moment, proactively and intentionally. Noticing but letting go of that perception of imminent threat. Recognizing that at every moment you have a choice and cultivating this with growing compassion, patience, non-judgment, and awareness. Developing the power to trust. . . trust you, yourself, the innate, your instincts, your being.
In support, there is the daily formal practice ingraining mindfulness skills into your second nature, into your daily habits of mental hygiene and self-care. Yes . . . the mental, emotional, and physical hygiene your mind and body need daily. Consider, perhaps, that it’s more important than the dental hygiene that we are taught from childhood to be so attentive to, as an important aspect of our physical health and well-being. Consider how much more important it is to cultivate mindfulness, to optimally impact your body, mind, and emotions, and optimize a healthful, flourishing life, and you at your best!.
There’s also the aspect of learning and applying the mindful pause - distracting yourself from the distraction - the drama, the trauma, the fears, worries, doubts, anger, sadness that plague those stressful moments. Imagine mindfully pausing longer. All day. What could that experience be like?
In MBSR, we explore, discover, and experience this pause in the all-day retreat. Perhaps, as a luxurious kind of treat for your mind-body-heart and soul. Hours of moments of silence, stillness, mindful movement, and self-care, But you say “I’ve been still for over a year.” Maybe . . . but have you been stressless, peaceful?
The research shows that globally we’ve experienced an unprecedented period of fear, anxiety, stress, and trauma - some of it chronic, some of it blunt force and acute. We learn in MBSR many of the insidious effects of stressors and stress and how they show up in our lives. Here’s the good news! We now know that over time mindfulness practice has a positive cumulative effect on the mind and the body.
An all-day retreat is a gift of befriending yourself - being on your own side, inside. It is your opportunity to slow down the stress-induced slow-death-by-a-thousand-cuts rhythm of our modern, digitized, high-speed life. Perhaps just for a day you may find refuge, a sanctuary, an antidote to the unrelenting challenges of our times and your own personal challenges . . . just for a moment. Maybe the whys and hows don’t matter. Maybe it’s as simple as not being consumed by the tsunami of your stressors, your perceptions of imminent threat . . . just for a moment. Maybe, it’s the calm . . . the peace from the belligerent distractions you face every day. . . just for a moment.
And so, maybe you could consider setting aside all the things you “normally” do (for work, for family and friends, for “play”), the doing-ness, the busyness, and, perhaps, you might choose to just be (maybe be stress-free); well . . . at least for a little while, for a few hours, all-day . . . just for a moment.
Teaching for almost 10 years, Peter Calin has privately counseled and coached individuals on ways to manage trauma, anxiety, and stress and find balance, authentic purpose, and more joy and happiness in their lives. Peter's ongoing independent study and practice and innate awareness and knowing fuels his continuing evolution as a teacher and embodiment as a practitioner. Attendant to this pursuit, as an MBSR teacher, Peter has taught over a dozen MBSR training programs and workshops in the past three years. Peter is also an Ivy-League educated attorney and MBA graduate, holds an LLM degree in Intercultural Human Rights, is a former Fortune 100 corporate executive, intercollegiate athlete, Aikido practitioner and triathlete.
Peter is an instructor for our MBSR-Based Silent Retreats. Click here to learn more and view upcoming retreats.
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