Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Are you stressed? We can help. The Center for Mindfulness at Lehigh Valley Health Network is a collaborative effort of family medicine and psychiatry. Our center is modeled after the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center’s Center for Mindfulness, a groundbreaking program that has helped tens of thousands of patients to manage pain, anxiety, chronic illness and everyday stress more effectively. Our eight-week program creates a supportive and therapeutic environment in which you will learn:
- Deep relaxation techniques
- How to recognize and modify your signs of stress
- How thoughts help or hinder stress management
- How to communicate more effectively
- How to prioritize self-care and build self-confidence
Where’s your mind right now? Maybe you’re thinking about all the laundry piling up, worrying about what happened in today’s meeting or stressing about an important relationship. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction helps you learn how to stop all your worrying, and shift over to “being.” A mindful person lives in the present without trying to change anything. You respond rather than react to situations. You focus and listen, and then communicate effectively. You’re nonjudgmental and open-hearted about yourself and others. Mindfulness helps you transform physically, too. You become more aware of sensations in your body. You’re more in tune if something doesn’t feel right and able to take good care of yourself. You're happier, healthier and more relaxed.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction involves these practices:
- Body scan – You’ll learn to slowly focus on each part of your body and be in tune with the physical sensations. You develop greater familiarity and confidence with your body.
- Meditation – You’ll learn to incorporate meditation into your life in practical ways. You can meditate while lying down, sitting, standing, eating and walking.
- Mindful movement – You’ll learn to stretch and move without forcing your body into complicated or difficult positions. You accept your body as you find it.
- Group discussion – There’s so much power in sharing your experiences and listening to the experiences of others in a nonjudgmental way. You learn your experiences are not unique and help each other cope with life’s chaotic moments.
- Awareness calendar – You’ll record the details of significant events – a pleasant or unpleasant moment, a stressful communication. The exercise helps you become in touch with your thoughts, moods and feelings, and resolve any issues.
- Communication – You will learn how mindful awareness can improve communication skills, cultivating both a greater presence in listening and clarity of speech.
Change your relationship with stress, chronic pain or illness through mindful movement, meditation and group discussion and support. You’ll learn how to have moment-to-moment awareness of the present, so you can avoid being on "automatic pilot" and focused on the past or anxiously awaiting the future. This awareness of the present can help you respond rather than react to situations and cultivate a greater sense of calm and well-being. All participants receive a CD with meditation practices and mindful movement exercises, and are invited to a half-day Saturday retreat.
|Summer schedule||Fall schedule|
|Information session 6-7:30 p.m.||May 28
|Information session 6-7 p.m.||Sept. 16
|Classes 6-8:30 p.m.||June 4||Classes 6-8:30 p.m.||Sept. 30|
|June 11||Oct. 7|
|June 18||Oct. 14|
|June 25||Oct. 21|
|July 2||Oct. 28|
|July 9||Nov. 4|
|July 16||Nov. 11|
|July 23||Nov. 18|
|Retreat 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.||Sat., July 13||Retreat 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.||Sat., Nov. 9|
Sessions are at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, in the Kasych Pavilion, room ECC 10.
Call 610-402-CARE (2273) for more information or to join the program.
Learn about Mindfulness Training for Medical Professionals.
Joanne Cohen-Katz, Ph.D.
Joanne Cohen-Katz, Ph.D., has had a lifelong interest in the connection between the mind and body, having grown up in a family where three people had chronic, stress-related illnesses. She began practicing yoga at the age of 18, and even lived in a residential yoga community for several years in her early 20s. Her entire professional career has involved working with patients in medical centers: helping them with family issues, coping with serious illness or stress reduction. In 1996, she began practicing mindfulness meditation and learned about the groundbreaking program Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
"As a psychologist interested in the mind-body connection, I was thrilled to discover MBSR. It takes the essence of ancient awareness practices and delivers them in a way that anyone can benefit from, even those who are suffering with fairly serious medical conditions. It is the single most powerful approach I have ever used as a psychologist."
Cohen-Katz and her co-founder, psychiatrist Susan D. Wiley, MD, started offering Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes in the Lehigh Valley in the summer of 2001 and have trained more than 500 patients. They both learned to teach this program from its founder, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. "Mindfulness gives people the tools to get their own lives back ... not worrying about the past or the future ... staying in the present," says Cohen-Katz.
Cohen-Katz, too, has dealt with stresses and uses mindfulness to cope. She dealt with infertility and found joy in adopting two children. "Parenting children in my 50s gives me an opportunity to use my mindfulness skills every day!" says Cohen-Katz. She, like those in the mindfulness course, shares her experiences and learns from the stories of others.
Susan D. Wiley, MD
Dr. Wiley, a board-certified psychiatrist, has been practicing ambulatory psychiatry for 30 years in the Department of Psychiatry at Lehigh Valley Health Network, where she is vice-chairman.
Also associate professor of psychiatry at University of South Florida, Morsani College of Medicine, Dr. Wiley has devoted her career to investigating the relationship between the body and mind within the psychosocial systems where we all live. Her practice includes integrating psychiatric treatment of patients with their medical care within the setting of the primary care physicians’ offices.
Susan has earned certification as a teacher of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of only a few dozen people in the world with that distinction. She co-founded the Center for Mindfulness of the Lehigh Valley Health Network in 2001.
One of Dr. Wiley's great pleasures is sitting in the garden on her farm, listening to the birds and the water running, taking in all of the beauty that is present in every moment and feeling a part of it. Mindfulness has improved Wiley's attentiveness skills, helped her be more patient, compassionate and accepting of life's challenges.
Wiley is excited about sharing mindfulness with the entire Lehigh Valley community. "Mindfulness builds emotional intelligence and resiliency. We all have the natural ability to be mindful. We just need to learn ways to cultivate mindful-awareness in our lives."
Carol Sorrentino, MSN, APRN, BC
Clinical Nurse Specialist
For years, Carol was on auto-pilot. She would drive to a destination without remembering how she got there or what she saw along the way. She would spend so much time fussing over preparations for holiday celebrations that she missed special moments with her family.
"I always prided myself on being able to do 20 things at one time," says Sorrentino, a nurse of 35 years. "Then, I realized it was causing me stress and I was missing out on life's pleasures." That's when she began practicing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and learned to turn off her auto-pilot, focus and relax.
Now, Sorrentino, an advanced-practice nurse in child and adolescent mental health and a therapist, is helping others learn mindfulness practice as a co-teacher. "I want to help others steal moments and get the most of every one." For instance, instead of tapping her foot impatiently while waiting for the elevator, Sorrentino takes a few deep breaths, relaxing her body and her mind. She's using mindfulness to help care for patients, too. "I share techniques to help calm them and help them appreciate the things they have."
Sorrentino discovered mindfulness several years ago after her significant other suffered a heart attack. The practice was included in a book about ways to lower your risk for heart disease. Realizing the power of mindfulness practice, she signed up for a class, attended a retreat with its founder Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., and has been practicing for five years. "Now my intention is to be present for every moment in my life," she says.
Ali Nass-Yepsen, MEd
Ali Nass-Yepsen has always been curious about the mind and its connection to angst and stress. It's what led her to meditation more than 30 years ago, and more recently to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
"I was looking for peace of mind. Through meditation I discovered I can relax, focus more and let go of my expectations, and see things for what they really are," says Nass-Yepsen, who co-teaches mindfulness classes. "With daily mindfulness practice, I feel more attentive and calm. It recharges my batteries."
Her appreciation and understanding of mindfulness expanded after attending a retreat with the program's founder, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. "Mindfulness practice helps you pay attention to your mind and senses," Nass-Yepsen says. "It doesn't make our stresses go away, but allows us to build new relationships with them. Anyone from any walk of life can do it."
Through mindfulness she has more to give to herself and others, including her mindfulness students and the 5- to 9-year-olds and their parents at Northwestern Lehigh Elementary School where Nass-Yepsen has been a guidance counselor for 18 years. "I am moved by those who have made the commitment to learn mindfulness," she says. "It's rewarding to hear their stories and learn how mindfulness is helping them enjoy life more."
Nass-Yepsen is even introducing mindfulness to young students. Before and after guidance lessons, she rings a bell three times, just as she does in mindfulness classes. "I ask the students to follow the sound of the bell until they can't hear it anymore," she says. "It helps them focus and relax for the lesson."
Andrea Foucek, MEd, CAGS
For 30 years, Andrea has been employed as a school psychologist in the public schools with a particular focus on adolescence. Through mindfulness practice she has experienced increased self acceptance, an inner balance and greater appreciation for the simple pleasures of everyday living. Through her teaching with the Center for Mindfulness she has been grateful for the opportunity to learn and guide others to develop self awareness, better cope with difficulties of life and discover what it means to be human.
Larry Silberstein, Ph.D.
"I have been attracted to meditation for several decades and began to practice seriously in 2000. My practice and my understanding of mindfulness have been deepened through week-long retreats with Thich Nhat Hanh and with the staff of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. Most recently, I participated in a seven-day training retreat for physicians and educators on 'Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Mind-Body Medicine.' This retreat was led by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of MBSR, and Saki Santorelli, director of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
"A 12-month online correspondence course with Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg, two of the founders of the Insight Meditation Society, formed an important part of my learning process. A 10-week practicum (2008) in the teaching of MBSR with Dr. Diane Reibel at Jefferson Myrna-Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia was a turning point. That experience convinced me of the power of MBSR to transform peoples' lives and inspired me to become a teacher."
Larry has been a professor of religion studies at Lehigh University since 1984 and holds the Philip & Muriel Berman Chair of Jewish Studies. He is also the founding director of the Philip & Muriel Berman Center for Jewish Studies. At Lehigh, he introduced a course, "Mindfulness & Meditation: East & West," that focuses on the Buddhist roots of mindfulness practice and the ways it is being applied in contemporary health settings. Students in the course are instructed in a variety of mindfulness practices.
The author and editor of numerous scholarly books, Larry has published a book on the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, whose concept of I-Thou relation is deeply indebted to the spiritual teachings of Daoism and Buddhism. He received rabbinic ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army in Europe and the United States. He previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania and has been a visiting professor at Swarthmore College, Haverford College, Princeton University and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Lesley Williams, RN, MSN
Lesley first came to understand the miracle of mindfulness as a participant in one of the Center for Mindfulness' MBSR courses. She had struggled with depression for many years and had read about using mindfulness in preventing relapses of depression. By the end of the eight weeks, she was on her way to experiencing the transformative nature of the practice of mindfulness.
“Learning to bring my attention to the present, and to do so without judgment, has provided me the choice of whether to respond or to react to my life. With that has come a real sense of freedom and definitely less stress. And now, as a teacher, I have the privilege of witnessing this miracle happen in others."
Working as a nurse and a tobacco treatment specialist in a community mental health organization, Lesley incorporates mindfulness meditation and other mindfulness-based tools in working with clients.
“Bringing awareness to the present moment offers a powerful opportunity for changing one's relationship to the experience, whether that is facing a chronic illness or trying to quit smoking.”