Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

mindfulness-based stress reduction.jpg
About once a year I discover a workbook that allows me to put all the steps that I learn in therapy into practice. I’ve mentioned in past blogs David Burns’s “10 Days to Self-Esteem,” and how the exercises in that workbook allowed me to recognize distorted thought patterns and practice ways of untwisting them. Two years or so ago, when I didn’t know whether or not I should have my son treated for anxiety, my therapist recommended I read “Understanding Your Child’s Puzzling Behavior,” which was very, very helpful. And now fellow blogger and mindfulness expert Elisha Goldstein has published, with co-author Bob Stahl, a comprehensive workbook–“A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook”— that teaches the art of mindfulness in relieving and reducing stress.



If I had to identify one quality that separates this book from the rest of the mindfulness resources in the self-help aisle, it’s that these pages are so practical and can’t help but provide the reader with plenty of “Aha!” moments. Reading through the chapters and exercises, I appreciate all the research that Goldstein and Stahl studied, material that illuminates how mindfulness exercises can alter and help shape your brain to be more optimistic and resilient. But what won my trust is that they have both been stress cases themselves at certain points in their lives, and can therefore communicate with empathetic language. They both know, on a very personal level, how stress can disable a person. Much like Kay Redfield Jamison, the famous psychologist who suffers from bipolar disorder, they speak both as expert and patient.


What, exactly, is mindfulness? Stahl and Goldstien write:

Mindfulness is about being fully aware of whatever is happening in the present moment, without filters or the lens of judgment. It can be brought to any situation. Put simply, mindfulness consists of cultivating awareness of the mind and body and living in the here and now. While mindfulness as a practice is historically rooted in ancient Buddhist meditative disciplines, it’s also a universal practice that anyone can benefit from. And indeed, being present and mindful is an important concept in many spiritual traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism.

Today mindfulness has expanded beyond its spiritual roots and even beyond psychology and mental and emotional well-being. Physicians are prescribing training in mindfulness practice to help people deal with stress, pain, and illness….In the words of Walpola Rahula, author of the Buddhist classic “What the Buddha Taught,” “[Mindfulness] is simply observing, watching, examining. You are not a judge but a scientist.”


I understand mindfulness as forcing a bit of time and space between a situation and your reaction, or recognizing the snowball of thoughts that’s forming in your mind before it becomes too overwhelming to sort through yourself. Goldstein and Stahl quote Vicktor Frankl, psychiatrist and holocaust survivor: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Although mindfulness techniques aren’t able to rescue me out of an acute, severe depression, if I diligently adhered to all the wisdom contained in Stahl and Goldstein’s book, and designated a time of the day to do all the exercises, I could save myself some considerable heartache and headache.



Their mindfulness exercises allow the reader to take some of the files off of her cluttered and disorganized desk because the files relate to the past or to the future, and the present tense is the only one she should worry about now. According to the authors, mindfulness is about sticking to the here and now and banishing all judgment. It’s also about breaking the job, day, or situation down … into small parts, in order to better manage it.

For example, in one of the first exercises, they suggest we list the stressful situation and rate it from a 1 (not very stressful) to a 10 (Help! I’ve fallen and can’t get up!). I started listing all the situations that bring me the most stress, most of which I assigned an 8:


  • Going through my email
  • Responding to requests for help (either with publishing or mental health)
  • Dealing with all my medical conditions
  • Eric’s work situation
  • Meeting work deadlines
  • Our healthcare situation and expenses
  • Temper tantrums
  • Doing homework with the kids
  • Getting household jobs done during the weekend
  • Putting the kids to bed

After I pinpointed which situations were producing the most stress, I felt a nice relief – that it’s not “my life is so stressful, I can’t take it!” but rather, “I have some stressful things going on in my life, let’s see if there are some solutions.” For example, erecting more boundaries on my email policy is probably needed. I should go back to checking emails only once or twice a day, designating a time of day, and sorting them into various categories in order of importance. Or maybe I can come up with some behavioral method that gives the kids incentive to complete their homework without my yelling bloody murder. These are modest revisions, but they could relieve a chunk of stress.


Goldstein and Stahl’s workbook uses a strong motivator for readers to learn the beneficial habit of mindfulness, and that is accountability. When you write things down and record your progress, you become accountable. Maybe that’s why my kids hate homework so much, come to think of it. So what they have done for us is set up a system by which we can challenge ourselves to better integrate our body, mind, and soul. Or at least that’s the plan.

I recommend this workbook to anyone who is stressed out … um … everyone I know.

Click here to subscribe to Beyond Blue and click here to follow Therese on Twitter and click here to join Group Beyond Blue, a depression support group. Now stop clicking.

  • Janette

    I tried to take part in an MBSR workshop but there was a disclaimer that said that if one is suffering from deep depression or suicidal thoughts that it would be better not to take the course.
    Therese acknowledges this in the article by saying: “Although mindfulness techniques aren’t able to rescue me out of an acute, severe depression”.
    My question is that if this helps in depression anxiety … etc. through awareness how can it also say that it cannot help someone with deep depression and suicidal thoughts. Then is this program only helpful for mildly depressed people? Where does it leave the rest of us?

  • Meghan

    Mindfulness is great technique for those who experience severe depression and/or anxiety and are in a maintenance phase, or for those who perhaps have mild to moderate forms of these disorders.
    It’s not that it CAN’T help those with severe depression/anxiety, it’s that mindfulness isn’t as effective (or isn’t effective at all) for those in that state. When you’re so disorganized in your thinking it can be simply impossible to practice these techniques.
    The benefit for those with severe depression is in maintenance and relapse prevention. I use mindfulness in this way. I practice some things on a regular basis, and when some of my relapse signatures start to surface I incorporate mindfulness in a more focused approach. This has served me well.
    Hope this helps a bit. I’m a big fan of both Therese and Dr Goldstein’s blogs and I find that they complement each other well.

  • Janette

    I kind of understand why it wouldn’t be very good for someone with severe depression or having suicidal thoughts. For me I find it difficult because it would be extremely scary and painful to be aware of such severe thoughts. So the question comes down to whether to eventually accept these thoughts and sit with them and if that is the case does one accept a suicidal thought and sit with it? How does that look like?

  • Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

    These are excellent questions and feedback.
    It may be helpful to check out an interview Therese and I did a while back right here:
    Continue to stay connected, that is often the greatest source of healing,

  • Jill

    Wow this was a really great post, I’ll definitely check out the book on Amazon and the link to your interview. :)

  • Bob Stahl

    As a long time MBSR teacher (19 years). I have never not allowed a person with depression and thoughts of suicide to come to my class. What I have done though is make sure that they are in therapy and have the consent of their health provider that it is ok for them to attend and that it is not contraindicated with their treatment.
    My experience is that many benefit. Nothing like being seen and appreciated as a human being. There is such a great hunger in the world to love and be loved. MBSR provides a sacred space where people can be real. Where each of our pains is honored and that we can begin to work with them as practice and open our hearts to greater self-compassion and insight into what is fueling and driving our behaviors… This can lead to greater freedom through our understanding and reconciliations
    May we all discover the gateways into our hearts.

  • Wildstar

    This was a great article! It has helped me focus in on some things that absolutely cripple me at times. Like what I call “looping thoughts”, the ones that run around and around inside my mind and seem trapped there. Most often it will start as a small seed of a thought. It could start as an offense that I experienced from someone. Then it grows and I start imagining what they will hurl at me next. Before you know it, a full blown argument has taken place in my mind that will NEVER happen! This article on mindfulness has helped in that I can just STOP the process and examine it and see what is really happening, thus giving me the ability to dispel it completely. I am hoping to retrain my brain into better thought patterns that will be more positive and less negative. Thanks a bunch, Therese!!

  • Nancy

    Wonderful :) Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to what you’re experiencing from moment to moment without judgment. Mindfulness helps you relate directly to whatever is happening in your life, including the challenges of stress, pain, illness, and the everyday demands of deadlines and assignments. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a more integrated approach to cultivating mindfulness. MBSR programs emphasize sitting and walking meditation and yoga. MBSR programs have the goal of helping individuals develop lifelong skills for dealing with emotional and physical stress and improving overall well-being.

  • Keira

    Hi There , thank you so much for writing this article it clearly came from the heart and your own experiences gave it an empathetic rather than a preaching perspective.
    I just wanted to share a little of my own experience someone who used to be a practising Buddhist.
    Mindfulness is a wonderful tool for staying in the moment and not letting worries of the future plague you. When one first starts practising it though it can be like giving your mind and soul a cleanse and a lot of ‘ dirt ‘ may need come to the surface e.g old hurts and fears. This was certainly true in my case.
    I would encourage anyone practising Mindfulness not to be alarmed when this happens but if necessary to seek professional help.
    Thank you Therese for highlighting this wonderful tool. Your kindness shines through.

  • payday loans toronto is great! Instant No Fa Payday Loans Relevant Cash on Instant Basis If you consider faing is the main problem in the way to grab instant cash then try with instant no fa payday loans

  • Stress Medication

    Great post on stress. Please keep the awesome info coming. We shouldn’t accept another day living anything but the life we deserve. Discover the most effective natural supplement for stress. Also, benefit from our massive scientific library on all stress related topics including stress medication by visiting us at

  • Reduce Stress

    Thank you for the informative article. I love reading books like this where the author has gone through real experiences rather than just rehashing what they have read or heard someone else say. I call it leading by example and I feel it’s one of the best ways to teach.

  • Mr. Payday Easy Loans Inc.

    This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. This is pretty nice one and gives in-depth information. Thanks for this nice article. zsgnfetuhonuzlbvxfnvkqxltfgtijuijns
    Mr. Payday Easy Loans Inc.

  • online loans

    Finally, an issue that I am passionate about. I have looked for information of this caliber for the last several hours. Your site is greatly appreciated.

  • canadian payday loans

    Finally, an issue that I am passionate about. I have looked for information of this caliber for the last several hours. Your site is greatly appreciated.

  • no faxing loans

    Greetings everyone, This webpage is excellent and so is how the matter was expanded. I like some of the comments as well although I would prefer we all maintain it on topic in order add value to the subject. gwfnxepnbyv

  • loans no fax

    This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. This is very nice one and gives in-depth information. Thanks for this nice article.

  • cash advance loans canada

    Thanks for good news! Your site is very useful for me. I bookmarked your site!

  • loan canada bad credit

    Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

  • loans bc

    Hi webmaster, commencers and everybody else !!! The blog was absolutely brilliant! Lots of tremendous information and inspiration, both of which we all need! Keep them coming… You all do such a excellent job at such Concepts… can’t tell you how much I, for one appreciate all you do!

  • payday loan ontario

    Hi buddy, especially informative submit. Please keep them coming.

  • canada loans for bad credit

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

  • loans bc in canada

    The publish is really the best on this laudable topic. I concur with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your future updates. Just saying thanks will not just be enough, for the exceptional lucidity in your writing. I will at once grab your rss feed to stay privy of any updates. De delightful work and much success in your business dealings!

  • canadian loans

    The post is really the best on this laudable topic. I concur with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your future updates. Just saying thanks will not just be enough, for the exceptional lucidity in your writing. I will at once grab your rss feed to stay privy of any updates. De delightful work and much success in your business dealings!

  • loss weight

    A very nice niche blog, and a great design there sparks Simplicity yet complex algorithm of the internet. Thank You.

  • payday loan online

    A quite nice niche blog, and a beneficial design there sparks Simplicity yet complex algorithm of the internet. Thank You.

  • bad credit canada

    Do you have any more info on this?

  • Davina

    Bing mindful is very much as you describe – about stepping back and almost observing our part in things and then deciding what action to choose – rather than letting our habits and conditioned responses to overtake. I think that’s where so much of our stress comes from – as ultimately those conditioned responses are not aligned with our true spirit, but with our experiences we have had thus far.

  • college scholarships

    This website is the finest site. thzkujqa

  • sample resume

    This website is the top world wide web site. xtcbmkol

  • calendar template

    Thanks for the info about Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
    – Beyond Blue

  • SAlpFuepe

    Great Post. I add this Post to my bookmarks.

  • fitness gym

    Unfogettable post about Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
    – Beyond Blue!

  • hair removal

    Very very nice post about Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
    – Beyond Blue!

  • home made pizza

    I appreciate all your hard work and your post about Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
    – Beyond Blue!

  • school grants

    Excellent read about Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
    – Beyond Blue!

  • payday loan advance

    Extremely blogpost approximately Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
    – Beyond Blue!

  • payday loans calgary

    I like your bloge very much. Great job author of

  • payday loans calgary

    Heya just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.

  • payday loans

    Hello, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Opera, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, great blog!

Previous Posts

Seven Ways to Get Over an Infatuation
“Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I” wrote US songwriter Lorenz Hart about the feeling of infatuation. It’s blissful and euphoric, as we all know. But it’s also addicting, messy and blinding. Without careful monitoring, its wild ...

posted 12:46:43pm Feb. 19, 2014 | read full post »

When Faith Turns Neurotic
When does reciting scripture become a symptom of neurosis? Or praying the rosary an unhealthy compulsion? Not until I had the Book of Psalms practically memorized as a young girl did I learn that words and acts of faith can morph into desperate ...

posted 10:37:13am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

How to Handle Negative People
One of my mom’s best pieces of advice: “Hang with the winners.” This holds true in support groups (stick with the people who have the most sobriety), in college (find the peeps with good study habits), and in your workplace (stay away from ...

posted 10:32:10am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

8 Coping Strategies for the Holidays
For people prone to depression and anxiety – i.e. human beings – the holidays invite countless possibility to get sucked into negative and catastrophic thinking. You take the basic stressed-out individual and you increase her to-do list by a ...

posted 9:30:12am Nov. 21, 2013 | read full post »

Can I Say I’m a Son or Daughter of Christ and Suffer From Depression?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we read: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What if we aren’t glad, we aren’t capable of rejoicing, and even prayer ...

posted 10:56:04am Oct. 29, 2013 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.