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Duke Service Helps Patients Manage Stress Through Mindfulness

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DURHAM — Doctors at the Duke Center for Integrated Medicine believe that taking time to notice what is going on around you can reduce stress.

Through mental relaxation and meditation, they say you can achieve a calmness called mindfulness.

In the middle of a busy day, in a dark, quiet room, people discover mindfulness.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

is a program at the

Duke Center for Integrated Medicine

. Through meditation and other exercises, participants learn to respond to the stresses in their life instead of reacting to them.

"Typically, what we are taught to do, what we tend to do, is whenever there is discomfort, we move away from it. We try to ignore it," said Dr. Jeff Brantley, program director.

Brantley said that to achieve mindfulness, people need to focus on their entire body, their breathing and posture. He believes this awareness helps people relax and find ways to cope with life's unexpected turns.

"We've had people come to us with terminal illness, with the goal of enhancing the days they have remaining," Brantley said.

Other people just want to get rid of some of the stress in their life. M.J. Hook never used to worry about stress. When her husband got sick and she had to take over as the family breadwinner, all of a sudden it was all just too much.

"It was time for me to finally take some time for myself," she said.

A friend recommended that she try the stress-reduction program. Through daily meditation, Hook has learned to confront what is bothering her and take time to enjoy life.

"I can't imagine not doing it," she said.

Brantley said that the program is not designed to replace medical treatments. Instead, it should be another tool to use in keeping the body healthy.

"Our hope is that as life unfolds, no matter what they face, they'll have a way to face it," he said.


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