Kathleen Bishop, Ph.D.
The Rev. Dr. Kathleen Bishop is a Priest in the Diocese of New Jersey, presently the vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Spring Lake.
She received her training in Teaching MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction*) at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Integrative Medicine Center (associated with Jefferson Hospital) in Philadelphia. She also has a private practice of psychotherapy as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Long Branch NJ.
Since completing the teacher training in 2014, she has taught the course many times. This includes an intensive time with Hackensack Meridian Hospital’s Integrative Medicine department from 2016-2018 where she also assisted in developing their online version.
Her Masters of Divinity and Ph.D. are from Drew University. She completed an Ed.D. in Marriage and Family Counseling from The College of New Jersey and is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in NJ.
*MBSR is a distinct approach to mindfulness training developed by Jon Kabat Zinn who, in 1979, founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachussets Medical School. The 8 week course that he created has given rise to thousands of research studies revealing benefits to physical as well as mental health.
MINDFULNESS FOR PRIESTS AND DEACONS
"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"—Viktor Frankl
MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction)
An 8-week Online Course (zoom TBA)
Monday evenings: 6-8:00pm
June 15 – August 3
Rev. Dr. Kathleen Bishop
Mindfulness, according to Diana Winston of UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center is simply: Paying attention to present moment experience with open curiosity and a willingness to be with what is. Present moment awareness can be a refuge from thoughts that bombard us day in and day out. These incessant stressors work invisibly to activate the ‘fight or flight’ reaction and the ensuing symptoms of high blood pressure, problems with digestion and lack of cognitive focus that are associated with life in a high stress environment. In the 8-week course, participants learn how to train the brain to respond, rather than react, to stressful events.
MBSR is an evidence-based 8- week course that uses sitting meditation, body awareness and mindful movement to reduce stress. In studies supported by the NIH, participation in the 8-week course appears to make measurable changes in the brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.
MBSR has its roots in Vipassana practice but is typically taught in secular settings.
It is a good example of an ancient contemplative practice entering the mainstream of education, medicine and psychotherapy in order to alleviate suffering.
Having a group of clergy will certainly add a more explicit Christian component that I look forward to sharing.
Although there is no charge, there is a significant time commitment: 2- hour classes once a week, and an online half-day retreat between weeks 7 – 8. I know that clergy time is precious and scarce. With great respect and kindness, I invite you to consider this commitment to your own wellbeing during these stressful times.
In order for a mindfulness course to be called MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, developed by Jon Kabat Zinn) it must be 8 weeks and include a day-long retreat in between weeks six and seven. The 8-week course is an evidence-based program that gets results. Research articles on mindfulness almost all base their findings on the 8-week course.
The course, as it has been developed at the University of Massachusetts by Jon Kabat Zinn and his colleagues, is more than eight weeks worth of sitting together in a group and going home. There are specific teachings for each week, different types of meditation, and the experience of two hours each week that introduce, elaborate and reinforce the practice. Perhaps you are struggling with the home practice. If so, you may benefit from the community of other practitioners under the guidance of a teacher. I have taken the course twice myself and can attest to the importance of what I call "the wisdom of the group." By the time the course came to an end, most of us were sad to see it go. The consolation is that even though the course must come to an end, the practice can last forever. I heard the words, "it changed my life," said with sincerity, many times by graduates of the course. It certainly changed mine.
The fact remains, however, that it is difficult to find eight unencumbered weeks on the calendar. Nor can some settings where the course is offered accomodate a long course. For these reasons Jon Kabat Zinn devotes a chapter (Full Catastrophe Living) to other alternatives. Shorter courses teach the basics and lay out a path for further practice, which is why I started offering them. I also plan on offering some "One Day" retreats that may suit alumni of my courses or give a taste of what mindful living could be like to the uninitiated. Watch this space!