BUFFALO, N.Y.—In academia, early fall is one of the most
hectic times of the year.
As University at Buffalo professors and staff accommodate
thousands of students returning to classes, Kim Dobson, MD,
assistant professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine and
Biomedical Sciences, is teaching a Mindfulness Based Stress
Reduction (MBSR) course to help UB faculty and staff relieve
Beginning Sept. 11, it will be held on Wednesdays from 6 - 8:30
p.m. in 107 Capen Hall on the North Campus. The cost of $299
includes all course materials, and participants will receive a
certificate of completion after the final class. To register,
contact Amy Myszka at 645-5357 or visit hr.buffalo.edu/worklife.
MBSR is an eight-week course that will introduce participants to
mindfulness, a form of moment-to-moment awareness where attention
is focused solely on the present, and the mind is liberated from
mental distractions and concerns.
Mindfulness is a state most people have already experienced
during certain activities, such as playing an instrument or
running, says Dobson. The challenge is to remain mindful while
“The present is the only moment that we truly have, and
that’s the moment that we need to live in to learn, love,
grow and make decisions,” says Dobson. “There is
nothing wrong with preparing for the future or reflecting about the
past, but you should be able to be present with what is going on
around you when you need to be, or when you want to be.”
First taught by Dobson at UB in 2008, the seminar is one the
Wellness and Work Life Balance workshops offered through the
Employee Assistance Program.
Through MBSR, Dobson will help her students practice mindfulness
by teaching them meditation techniques that focus on breathing and
body awareness. Similar to yoga and Tai Chi, these techniques draw
from Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine emeritus at the
University of Massachusetts Medical School, developed the program
in 1979 after years of yoga practice and study with Buddhist
teachers. Kabat-Zinn combined their teachings with Western science
to create a secular approach to stress reduction.
However, mindfulness can do more than prevent a few gray hairs.
According to Dobson, those who practice these techniques report
dramatic improvements in health, a reduction in perceived chronic
pain and improved immunity.
Participants also have displayed increased electrical activity
and growth in areas of the brain that manage stress, tension and
Dobson’s calm and attentive presence is a testament to the
physical and mental benefits of the program. Though she admits that
she sometimes struggles to keep a clear head, she credits the
program with helping her overcome everyday stresses.
“Mindfulness is like money in the bank,” says
Dobson. “When situations become challenging, that skillset
and experience are something I draw upon to address those
difficulties. Mindfulness doesn’t remove the obstacles of
life, but it is invaluable toward managing those