4.01 Outline – text

“Learning to strengthen the mind”

Lesson Four

Outline: During this fourth MBSR session, we engage in a combination of the three major formal mindfulness practices that have also been practiced at home during the preceding three weeks:

  • Body Scan
  • Standing Yoga
  • Sitting Meditation

Instruction emphasizes the development of concentration and the systematic expansion of the field of awareness.

How conditioning and perception shape our experience.

By practicing mindfulness:

We cultivate curiosity and openness to the full range of experience.

We learn new ways to respond to stressful moments and events, whether external or internal.

Exploration of mindfulness as a means of reducing the negative effects of stress reactivity, as well as the development of more effective ways of respondingpositively and pro-actively to stressful situations and experiences.

The physiological and psychological bases of stress reactivity are reviewed and in-depth discussion is directed toward the use of mindfulness as a way of working with reducing and recovering more quickly from stressful situations and experiences.

The daily mindfulness practice is recognizing, accepting and then experientially inquiring into our reactive patterns.

Typical Class Sequence:
Standing Yoga postures

Sitting meditation with focus on:

  • body sensations
  • the in-breath
  • the whole body

Particular emphasis on working with painful physical sensations.

Explore the opening ‘Stopping & Dropping’ meditation in this session.

Inquire into:

  • the daily sitting practice, and yoga
  • the experience of working with physical sensations

Review: Unpleasant Events Calendar

  • Attentive to exploring the familiarity of unpleasant moments.
  • What common qualities do these distinct unpleasant moments or events have?
  • Emphasis on mind/body connections, patterns, we observe/learn about ourselves.
  • Reflecting unpleasant moments experienced during any of the formal or informal home practices in the past week
  • Investigating any common attributes in all of these unpleasant moments or events that caused them to be labeled as unpleasant.


  • What is stress?
  • How does it influence mind, body, health, and patterns of behavior?
  • Continue exploring physical sensations, emotions, thoughts associated with unpleasant events.
  • Connect to experience of stress — How do we actually experience it physically, cognitively and effectively?
  • We name the stressors –what is particularly stressful for us and what are we discovering about it through the practice of mindfulness?
  • Association with expectations, not getting one’s own way (what is my way, anyway…and would I know it if I got it, and how long would it last?)

Home Practice Assignment:

  • Alternate Body Scan with Yoga, > 6 days per week
    • Standing/Lying, every other day
  • Every day, Sitting Meditation 20-30 minutes> 6 days per week
    • Awareness of the sensations of breathing and of the whole body.
  • Be aware of stress reactions during the week, without trying to change them.
  • Awareness of feeling stuck, blocking, numbing, and shutting off to the present moment when it happens this week.

Optional Workbook:

  • Do the informal assessment:
    • How Stressed Are You? page 11-13
    • List 10 reoccurring stressful situations
    • Rate from 1-10 how stressful the situation is in the Start Column.
  • Optional Reading
    • Mindful Breathing, pg 42
    • Wandering Mind, pg 43
    • Posture & Practice, pg 44
    • Formal Practice, pg 45
    • Informal Practice, pg 46

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