How a Mindfulness-Based Stress reduction Practice Can Help You Through Hard Times
Learn how developing a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) practice helped San Diego cyclist John Abate recover from a nearly fatal hit and run cycling accident in Encinitas.
John Abate loved his routine training bike rides through Encinitas until one day, that all changed.
“Six years ago I had a traumatic injury in a hit and run cycling accident. I nearly lost my life,” John shares. “I landed between a rock and tree. The doctor said that if I hadn’t been as physically fit as I was I might have died.”
His body was bruised, battered and broken, and so was his emotional spirit.
“I still had to go to the doctor to deal with the injuries, the physical pain but mindfulness gave me the extra component to handle the emotional impact [of the accident],” says John. “In my process of recovery, I discovered Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, Full Catastrophe Living, which changed my life. Then I took the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course at UCSD and learned that we are not our pain, emotions, physical body or our stories. The more we attach to stories we get caught in a vicious cycle.
“They never found the driver. But mindfulness helped me to learn compassion and forgiveness and provide a sense of closure.”
John continued to develop his mindfulness practice further and also became a certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction instructor. MBSR is an eight-week mindfulness training program created by Jon Kabat-Zinn to address chronic pain, anxiety and depression. While it has been helpful for those experiencing those conditions, Abate says that mindfulness training can help anyone manage stress through difficult times.
“Mindfulness is beneficial to anyone, not just people experiencing trauma, addiction, anxiety or depression.” John explains. “The pandemic has given us the opportunity to face a lot of things. Many people never had an opportunity to be alone or isolated before. It’s most important that people take the time for self-care and learn how to love ourselves. And when we do that, we can love others.”
The eight-week course consists of two-hour long weekly group sessions and practice exercises to develop mindful awareness and meditative practices. This course structure helps create accountability, connection and progress.
“It can be a challenge to carve out that time,” says John. “You’re expected to show up for yourself and the collective group.”
As well as enrolling in an MBSR course, we can take immediate steps to practice mindfulness everyday and John tells us how.
“First, stop what you’re doing. Take a moment,” John suggests. “Pay attention to the natural flow of breath or sounds near you. Whatever you experience, it has no bearing on who you are, what you are. Just be where you are right now.”
Develop Your Mindfulness Practice
Learn more about MBSR and enroll in an upcoming mindfulness practice course in San Diego at mindfulfoundations.org