Stress can take its toll on the body, but one Bay Area woman who suffers from multiple sclerosis and helps people manage tension and anxiety through her mindfulness meditation methods is about to begin a class in Burlingame.
Cassie Schindler is a mindfulness-based stress reduction instructor who has offered her stress reduction services to employees at corporations like Yahoo, Apple, Google, Facebook and Target. She herself was in the corporate world for many years before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 16 years ago. She started her own company The Alternate Path in 2005 and finally left the corporate world in 2008 to teach mindfulness meditation full time. She said people have been seeking her class out these days. Now, she will run an eight-week-long mindfulness-based course starting March 18 at the Mercy Center in Burlingame.
“Mindfulness is coming to mainstream,” Schindler said. “It’s very well scientifically researched. People that come into this course fill out a medical symptoms checklist; on average there’s a decrease of symptoms by 35-40 percent nationally (after taking the class).”
Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a behavioral medicine program created at the University of Massachusetts that uses the psychological concept of mindfulness to help people cope better and be more at ease.
Suzanne Buckley, director of Mercy Center, said Schindler’s class is part of the center’s program that hosts groups of nonprofits that use space for meetings and trainings.
“Cassie wanted to bring her group here and while it’s not a Mercy Center program, I really want to support her because this contributes to the wellness of our community,” Buckley said. “At Mercy, we are really involved in supporting the community in health and wellness. Everybody has stress in their lives and stress is one of the key contributors to poor health, so many people out there could really benefit from her teaching.”
The class is open to everyone, Schindler said. Attendees are sometimes referred by physicians, are people under stress, have chronic conditions or are in pain. She said the class is a means of gaining tools to strengthen coping capabilities.
Schindler began meditating at 17. In light of her multiple sclerosis, she took a teacher training class.
“I was going to do everything in my power to heal,” she said. “I live very well in light of this disease because I actually practice what I preach. I feel strongly people can have an incredible impact on their own state by simply resting the mind and body.”
Marisa Dumpis took Schindler’s mindfulness-based stress reduction class in November 2012 while dealing with the stress of unemployment.
“One big benefit was total stress reduction and [I learned] ways to manage stress,” said Dumpis, who now is an academic advisor at San Jose State University. “It’s about appreciating the little moments. Cassie embodies positivity. Mindfulness and meditation can be hard to adapt into everyday life and one thing she teaches people is it’s a practice and she doesn’t expect you to sit for four hours with no other thoughts.”
Meditation does seem difficult for many, but it’s a misconception to think one won’t be able to do meditation, Schindler said. Sometimes people overlook the power they have in of themselves to relieve stress and change the circumstances of their life, she said.
“When people hear the word meditation, they automatically think of doing something too difficult, like clearing their minds,” she said. “People in this culture can’t slow down and give their nervous systems a rest and a break. People think it’s too simple and we’re such a complicated world that sometimes simplicity is overlooked.”
Schindler said it’s very difficult for people to dedicate themselves to a practice on their own and that’s why the structure of class so important.
“It’s eight weeks and speaks to each person’s own patterns of behavior,” she said. “Some are disempowering. At home, you don’t dig deep to find behaviors that might be causing more stress. I teach to be more resilient in the face of daily stressers and include discipline, structure, information and the practice. It impacts lives in a very phenomenal way.”
People can receive mindfulness-based stress reduction training in more than 500 locations. The Mercy Center class will be $295 per person. Classes run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and after the sixth week, there is a six-hour all-day session. The maximum number of students is 32 people for each eight-week class. Schindler plans to start with one class at the center, but if the response is overwhelming, then she’ll open another session to run concurrently.
The center is located at 2300 Adeline Drive in Burlingame. For more information visit mindyourmoments.com or call 578-8689.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105