Health service promotes mindfulness for stress reduction

Posted 3/6/14

In today’s day and age, it seems like one’s mind is always going, keeping track of work, appointments, schedules and everything else. To help manage stress and other ailments, Integrative Health …

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Health service promotes mindfulness for stress reduction

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In today’s day and age, it seems like one’s mind is always going, keeping track of work, appointments, schedules and everything else. To help manage stress and other ailments, Integrative Health Services, a new holistic health services company in Warwick, will host a free orientation session for their Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, a meditation program that helps one use the thoughts in their mind as opposed to pushing them away.

Integrative Health Services owner and certified MBSR instructor Stephanie Gove explained that MBSR helped her to find relief, and she liked the fact that it is based in having an active, full mind.

“The best definition I have heard [of mindfulness] is paying attention on purpose, moment to moment, non-judgmental,” explained Gove. “It’s really about being present. A lot of our life is requiring us to multitask. Mindfulness cuts through that.”

Gove will host a free orientation session on MBSR Saturday, March 15 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The session will serve as an introduction to her first eight-week program on MBSR. For the program, participants will meet once a week for eight weeks with an addition six-hour “Day of Mindfulness” event on one Saturday during the program. The cost of the full eight-week program is $295 until March 15; after that it goes up to $365.

Integrative Health Services began in October 2013 in North Kingstown, but Cranston resident Gove moved the center to 2893 Post Road in Warwick a few weeks ago. Gove has an office space for individual appointments in health coaching, meditation and Reiki and will utilize a group space in the building for classes and the MBSR program.

Prior to opening Integrative Health Services, Gove worked for two years as a full-time health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island’s The Health & Wellness Institute. Through this work and her own experience as an avid meditator, Gove came to believe that complementary medicine (combining holistic approaches with conventional medicine) is the ideal.

MBSR was started at the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Mindfulness by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979. Gove explained that as a meditator and doctor, Kabat-Zinn combined the two.

Gove earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Rhode Island and was trained in MBSR at the UMass Medical Center For Mindfulness. She is also a certified life coach and received her integrative health coach professional training at Duke Integrative Medicine in April 2012.

“They’re taking integrative methods, and they’re bringing it into traditional medicine,” explained Gove.

While Gove does not downplay the benefits of traditional medicine, she is part of the growing movement to find alternatives to prescription drugs for ailments if possible.

“I found tremendous relief in my own life. I started mindful meditation and said there’s something to this,” she said.

Gove took classes and read books about the practice before taking part in the Teacher Training Practicum at the Center For Mindfulness. While she has been cleared by the center to teach MBSR, she is still on the path to be fully certified through their program. Only 46 people in the world have reached that level of certification, and it is a personal goal for Gove.

“I spent a lot of years doing a job, not a career. This is something I am passionate about, and I want to share it with the world,” she said.

Gove said the three main components of MBSR are mindful meditation, group discussion and mindful movement. As opposed to traditional “twisting into a pretzel” yoga, Gove described mindful movement as “body awareness; one specific practice is a “body scan,” during which Gove has participants focus in on different parts of the body individually.

“It’s really about getting people inside their bodies,” said Gove.

According to Gove, participation in MBSR can help those suffering from conditions such as stress, chronic pain, anxiety and panic, sleep disturbances, fatigue, high blood pressure and headaches. She added mindful meditation can serve as an introduction for people who believe meditation is not for them.

“It’s not about a vision,” said Gove, explaining that during mindful meditation she does not ask participants to visualize themselves walking on a beach or anything like that. “It’s about being with what’s in your mind at that time.” Gove also described the practice as “complete acceptance of what’s going on in your life.”

For example, during mindful meditation, those living with chronic pain are encouraged to focus on the pain and notice different things about it: does it change, is it mild or severe, is it moving throughout the body, etc. Because that pain is not likely to go away, getting a better understanding of it helps one to cope with it.

While Gove’s goal is to host the eight-week MBSR continuously throughout the year in the future, she hopes participants will integrate the practice into their daily lives beyond the sessions.

“The nice thing is it’s over two months; they’re working on integrating it into their lives already,” said Gove.

In addition to their weekly sessions, participants in the MBSR program will have audio files and practice CDs to use at home and discuss with Gove throughout the program.

While Gove is offering this first MBSR session for the spring and will offer the second one in the fall to start, the other services at Integrative Health Services will be offered year-round.

Gove said her health coaching is designed to be more of a conversation about overall health.

“It is designed to catch people who are falling through the cracks [of our health system],” said Gove, explaining that many people see the current health system as more diseased instead of overall health focused. “You don’t go to the doctor until you already have a problem.”

One-on-one health coaching can help individuals take a step back from a prescription approach and determine alternative methods that fit into their lifestyle.

The Reiki services offered at Integrative Health Services can also be known as energy medicine, a spiritual healing process designed to activate the body’s natural healing abilities. In recent years, it has become very popular with patients undergoing chemotherapy or facing a variety of ailments and diseases.

“The cool thing is it branches to a lot of areas,” said Gove.

For now, Gove is the only health coach and instructor working at Integrative Health Services, but she hopes the business will grow to a large-scale integrative practice with a full staff.

Space is limited for the MBSR Orientation Session, which one must take to participate in the MBSR eight-week program. For more information or to register, call or email Gove at 234-9410 or Stephanie@ihealthri.com. For more information about all integrative health services, visit www.ihealthri.com.

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