Empty your mind

Mindfullness-based stress reduction: a way into the fullness of life

Graphic by: Sarah Massey | Production Assistant

Ferris students and faculty are invited to participate in a yoga program designed to reduce stress and promote better wellbeing.

Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 20, George Nagel, Ferris State University communication professor, will lead an eight-week class on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at Heart and Sole Yoga in downtown Big Rapids.

This will be the third year of partnership between Nagel and Heart and Sole Yoga teaching the MBSR course.

The course meets from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays until Nov. 15, with a Silent Retreat from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5. For Ferris students, the course is half off, costing a total of $150 with scholarships available for up to the full amount.

“The main thing is this is something you see value in and you’re willing to work towards,” Nagel said. “I want to provide students with the experience of how it works so they’re motivated to continue. Our own experience is the best teacher. It’s about the students, offering them something that can really be helpful to them in their daily lives.”

In an email to the FSU faculty about the class, Nagel reported that nearly 75 percent of Americans report moderate to high stress. Several decades of published research reported that the majority of people who participate in an eight-week MBSR course discover the following:

•The ability to cope more effectively with both short •and long-term stress

•Lasting improvements in physical and psychological


•An increased ability to calm and relax

•Reductions in pain levels and the ability to cope with

long-term pain

•An enhanced sense of well-being

•An improved outlook and enthusiasm for life

“I knew within a couple weeks that I was really onto something,” Nagel said. “My wife noticed I was easier to get along with. What I noticed is two things happened right away: I was less reactive and I had less rumination.”

After taking MBSR courses himself, Nagel took a sabbatical to research his discovery. He found that

nearly 50 percent of our waking hours we spend ruminating—re-living the past or worrying about the future.

“When we’re doing that it takes us out of the present,” Nagel said. “It generates a negativity that has a life of its own. When you ruminate less, you develop a more positive attitude, your outlook goes up.”

Nagel quoted Zig Ziglar, an American author and motivational speaker from the sixties: “Your attitude determines your altitude.”

“The attitude we start with influences how we interpret,” Nagel said. “So these little things, these basic thinking and awareness skills are the key to doing whatever we do well.”

The course will help familiarize participants with several mindfulness meditation practices including the body scan, sitting meditation, walking meditation, eating meditation and gentle yoga.

“I’ve always been a proponent of experiential education,” Nagel said. “It’s about providing opportunities to learn stuff that will be helpful in daily lives. I knew I wanted the training because it would make a difference in my life and the students’ lives. It was really powerful.”

“For my students in particular, it’s the importance of taking time to take care of yourself, to be aware of your person and body,” continued Nagel. “You need to take a little time for yourself because you’re worth it and you need it. You want to determine your own destiny. The level of communication depends on the quantity and quality. You have to know you.”

“Mindfulness practices cultivate a new relationship between you and the things that stress you out,” read Nagel’s email to the faculty. “Drawing on your own inner resources, mindfulness develops caring, patience, awareness and attentiveness. You learn to stay present, open to your inner and outer experience and become less judgmental and more understanding. You develop clarity and the ability to remain focused.”

To register for the MBSR course, please contact George Nagel at (616) 481-1182 or GeorgeNagel@nullferris.edu.