A Pediatrician’s Take on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

Diane Liebe, MD, FAAP
Co-chair, WCAAP Early Childhood Committee

When my husband suggested that we consider spending a week on Whidbey Island this summer working on “Mindfulness,” I have to admit I had no idea what I was getting into.  As a family physician, he had spent time reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s “Full Catastrophe Living,” recognizing how the approach could help his patients.  He understood more about the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) process and was intrigued to see if he could find a personal benefit.  Me… I was just along for the ride, right?

MBSR has a long history, beginning in 1979 at the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. It was started to help patients who were struggling with chronic pain or medical conditions. It has been shown to have many health benefits, including helping with anxiety, depression, stress, chronic pain, as well as improving well-being. Often it is offered in an 8-week format with weekly sessions, which include guided meditations, gentle, mindful yoga, and instructional sessions. In the Northwest, the organization Mindfulness Northwest is an excellent resource to learn more about mindfulness in general, find a schedule of local programs and retreats, and explore guided meditations. They offer occasional programs primarily for medical providers and have worked in collaboration with WSMA.

I found the journey into mindfulness to be a very personal thing. Each of us seemed to be absorbing the practice based on our individual situation and what we were hoping to gain from the practice. Our group had around 40 individuals attending, including some dealing with chronic medical issues or personal challenges. In our group there were no other medical providers, and I found that I enjoyed being a part of a diverse group of individuals. Much of the week was spent in helping us become comfortable with meditation, silence, and building kind compassion for both ourselves and others. Towards the end of the week, we spent 24 hours in silence (except for our instructors), which was quite powerful.

*Editor’s note: Three months later, Dr. Liebe reports that she has been using the techniques she learned at the retreat and has experienced positive benefits, including a greater sense of compassion and reduced burnout. To learn about the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic’s mindfulness program for families, see Dr. Lenna Liu’s article our November issue of Developments

Online Mindfulness for Healthcare Professionals

Mindfulness Northwest is offering an online series on how to reduce stress, prevent burnout, and increase job satisfaction — all from the comfort of home. Designed especially for Healthcare Professionals, MHP is an ONLINE class teaching the fundamentals of mindfulness and MBSR.

Co-sponsored by WPHP & WSMA and available to providers nationwide.
CME credits available
4 Tuesday evenings + 1 all-day retreat
4/7 – 4/28, 6 – 8:30pm PST
4/25 ONLINE retreat, 10am – 4pm PST

For more details and registration CLICK HERE.