Mindfulness-Based Emotional Balance
The Mindfulness and Emotional Balance (MBEB) program integrates emotional regulation skills and generative practices (such as meditations on compassion, love and forgiveness) with core teachings from the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The program was developed by American psychotherapist Margaret Cullen synthesizing two decades of experience in teaching mindfulness-based programs and her work with renowned emotion expert Dr. Paul Ekman. Gonzalo Brito then contributed practical and theoretical knowledge from his intensive study of compassion and Compassion Focused Therapy with Dr. Paul Gilbert. Initially, this program was designed especially for educators, and its positive effects on this population have been supported by a variety of scientific research. It has recently been adapted to different groups, such as doctors, nurses, social workers, lawyers, executives, and military spouses.
The MBEB program brings together some of the central themes of contemporary psychology with the wisdom of contemplative traditions to support the transformation of the mind and heart. The aim of this combination is to promote greater human well-being and flourishing. The combination of these two fields (scientific and contemplative) offers great potential for transformation and can easily be translated into secular fields such as education, health and work. You can download a chapter on MBEB from the Handbook of Mindfulness-Based Programmes: Mindfulness Interventions from Education to Health and Therapy (Routledge, 2019) here.
Two Central Themes
There are two central themes that run through the MBEB program. One of them is the integration of mindfulness into everyday life. Mindfulness, in this context, refers to the ability to collect the dispersed mind and intentionally direct it to the present moment, along with the ability to attend to each experience with kindness and compassion. Relating to one’s own experience with a greater sense of acceptance, openness, and warmth, rather than resisting or avoiding one’s own experience, promotes the freedom to make wiser decisions. Because of negativity bias and the tendency towards self-criticism, it is particularly important to balance these tendencies with the development of radical self-acceptance and kindness.
The second central theme of MBEB consists of theoretical and experiential knowledge about how our emotions work. This aspect involves learning how to transform difficult emotions such as anger, fear, resentment, and how to cultivate emotional habits associated with psychological flourishing, such as gratitude, love, compassion and forgiveness.
Exploring one’s own limiting beliefs about what emotions are and how they work, what forgiveness, compassion and love are, what the role of intentions is, can facilitate changes in psychological and behavioral habits that promote freedom, happiness and well-being in oneself and others. All the teachings and practices of the MBEB program are based on these two foundations.
The MBEB program uses multiple teaching and learning modalities, combining didactic and theoretical teaching with experiential exercises, visualizations, guided meditations, relational practices and other methods designed to reinforce learning and also to make it accessible to people with diverse learning styles.
The program components follow a structured sequence. Each session is two hours long and there is a customizable self-directed silent day of practice in the online version of the program. Participants who take the program receive the necessary materials (audio guided meditations and complementary readings) to practice at home. In addition to attending all sessions, participants are expected to devote half an hour each day to program practice.
Content and Practices
Session 1: Introduction to Program and Mindfulness of the Body
Session 2: Mindfulness of Sensations (vedana)
Session 3: Mindfulness of Thoughts
Session 4: Exploring Forgiveness
Session 5: Love and Kindness
Session 6: Defensive Emotions: Anger and Fear
Day of Practice
Session 7: Cultivating Compassion with Self and Others
Session 8: Integration. Cultivating habits of body, mind, and heart