Tahoe-Truckee mindfulness classes geared to help shed stress | SierraSun.com

Tahoe-Truckee mindfulness classes geared to help shed stress

Cory Fisher
cfisher@theunion.com

Truckee resident Jackie Griffin.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Jackie Griffin hears it all the time — "I'm too stressed to take your stress reduction class," and, believe it or not, she understands.

Having worked as a registered nurse for more than 20 years, the mother of three is no stranger to stress. But Griffin, a Truckee resident armed with solid science, is now on a mission to educate people on what she considers "the next most important public health initiative of our time."

While a young college student, Griffin took a world religion course that opened her eyes to the fact that forms of meditation and mindfulness have been a common thread among many of the world's religious traditions throughout human history.

In addition to Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism, forms of Christian meditation are rooted in the Bible.

"I noticed so many similarities in all the different religious traditions," said Griffin. "We all have the same body and the same needs. In that way, we are all speaking the same language in our desire to find balance in life."

Once she found herself immersed in the rigors of nursing school, Griffin also had three young children at home, ages 3, 5 and 8. She was the definition of stressed.

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"That was when I started meditating and realized just how powerful the benefits were," she said. "Suddenly the little things didn't overwhelm me — even the big things weren't so bad."

But at the time, the remarkable personal benefits Griffin was experiencing didn't seem to jibe with her own "scientific brain," she said, as there was little research available to back up her claims.

Fast forward more than 20 years, and an exploding body of research is now providing evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of meditation and mindfulness when it comes to better health and the improvement of many mental and physical conditions.

A variety of studies have found, among others, that the practice can decrease burnout, bolster the immune system, lower blood pressure and decrease pain.

In June of 2014, Griffin completed all the requirements through the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society to teach an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class, also known as MBSR.

According to Griffin, the healing practice "combines the ancient contemplative traditions of the east with the modern discoveries of Western medicine."

With years of experience in a broad range of medical settings including surgical, orthopedics, cardiac care, hospice and rehab, Griffin wanted to offer her patients something more than pills and simply treating symptoms.

She now sees MBSR as "going to the cause and giving people something sustainable that they can use throughout their entire life."

"MSRB really changes the neuroplasticity of your brain — this is so important for seniors," said Griffin. "It teaches you to do what's called for in the moment. In past classes, my students talk about their lives changing in profound ways. By the fourth week people say, 'Oh my gosh, I realize that I haven't been paying attention to my family, my work, my sport or my relationship.' There is a joy in paying attention to what you have instead of what you're going to do next. Mindfulness is paying attention without judgment."

When you're focused on what's in front of you, you perform better, Griffin continued, and you become "aware of what you weren't aware of."

There is a quote by the late Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl that MBSR students often refer to, which they say helps describe the benefits of slowing down and paying attention: "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."

"My students have told me that MBSR has made a difference in how they live their lives," said Griffin. "They're spending more time with their kids, rethinking what they do on their days off, being more in line with the kind of life they want to live. Just like fitness was at the top of the health care agenda in the '70s, meditation and mindfulness is truly the next big thing in health care."

Upcoming classes

Jackie Griffin will be offering an eight-week class starting the week of March 24, and there are two classes to choose from:

Tuesdays: Center for Health and Sports Performance in Truckee, 9-11 a.m. or 5:30-7:30 p.m., March 31 to May 19 (participants must choose either morning or evening option).

Thursdays: North Lake Tahoe Event Center Kings Beach, 5-7 p.m., April 2 to May 21.

Attendance at both includes a Sunday, May 17, retreat from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the North Tahoe Event Center. Cost is $300 for the 8-week series, including the retreat.

Griffin will also host a “Mindfulness in the Mountains” 3-day weekend retreat March 20-22 at Granlibakken Tahoe. Prices vary; visit www.mbsrtahoe.com” target=”_blank”>Bold”>mbsrtahoe.com for more info.