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Mindfulness Institute

The Mindfulness Institute is a new Whole Health program focused on improving the health and well-being of Veterans and Staff, through the promotion of evidence-based Mindfulness Training across the VA Portland Healthcare System.

Mindfulness Institute VA Portland image

What is the VA Portland Mindfulness Institute?

The Mindfulness Institute is a new Whole Health program focused on improving the health and well-being of Veterans and Staff, through the promotion of evidence-based Mindfulness Training across the VA Portland Healthcare System.

"MBSR is the BEST program the VA has come up with... it saved my life." 

-- Wayne, Army Veteran. MBSR Graduate, VA Portland. 

Picture of a veteran meditating

What is Mindfulness and Mindfulness Training?

Mindfulness, or mindful awareness, can be defined as bringing gentle awareness to one's present moment experience, on purpose, with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and even kindness. Put simply, it means paying attention to what you're paying attention to. However, as our experience quickly shows us (if we choose to pay attention), we spend an amazing amount of time lost in thoughts, emotional reactivity, old habits, and dis-connected from the world around us.

Mindfulness training, is a method or technique, and refers to a family of meditation or attentional practices as well as certain movement practices, that when engaged in over time, lead to greater levels of mindful awareness as well as other positive mental states.

"It feels difficult to even quantify what was most helpful about this program, as I truly believe having this opportunity to explore MBSC in this way could be truly life changing for me." 

-- Registered Nurse, Mindfulness-Based Self Care graduate, VA Portland

Why is Mindfulness so Popular?

Well, the simple answer is that research has consistently shown mindfulness training leads to a variety of physical and psychological health benefits. Some of the most reliable changes include improvements in anxiety, depression, stress, sleep, chronic pain, GI difficulties, blood pressure, quality of life, and self-esteem.

"I have learned how to be more calm, present and feel a much lower stress level." 

-- MBSR Veteran Graduate, VA Portland. 

Mindfulness training has also been shown to improve relationships with others, and in a work setting, to support employee well-being. Thus, mindfulness has the potential to benefit not only each Veteran and Staff member, but also to improve the communication and relationships between Veterans and Staff.

"I hope that every VA employee will have this opportunity to experience this training because it will not only improve the interactions with colleagues and Veterans but also the relationship with one self and loved-ones."

-- Registered Nurse, Mindfulness-Based Self Care Graduate

Image o Mind Full, or Mindful

How Does Mindfulness Work?

Current research suggests practicing mindfulness re-trains the brain and strengthens important psychological processes, such as: attention regulation and self-awareness; reduced rumination, worry and self-criticism; reduced emotional reactivity; and greater levels of kindness and self-compassion.

Essentially, the more we practice mindfulness meditation, the less we get stuck in our heads worrying about the future or ruminating about the past, the less stressed we feel, the less judgmental and critical we are to ourselves and others, the better choices we make, and the more fully we can participate in our lives and what matters to us. 

"I discovered some hope that things can improve. Being in the "autopilot loop" is hopeless. I've discovered there is a way to break that cycle."

-- MBSR Veteran graduate, VA Portland.

How Can I Learn More or Participate in a Mindfulness Training Program?

The best way to learn more about mindfulness and experience its benefits, is to practice it! Fortunately, VA Portland is one of the few VA hospitals in the nation with an evidence-based mindfulness training program for Veterans and Staff.

If you want more information about the programs available for Veterans, visit the Veteran Programs page. If you want to get started right away, visit the Guided Audio/Resources page to connect with a variety of VA and non-VA resources!