Teacher Feature: Meg Chang, MBSR TeacherDate Posted: Monday, December 10, 2018
ABOVE RIGHT: Meg Chang guides a mindfulness practice with Dr. Eric Dickson, CEO of UMass Memorial Healthcare, and his leadership team.
“I thought it sounded a lot like what I was doing and really felt this new concept, MBSR, was a further continuation of what I was already teaching my patients.”
– Meg Chang, on learning about Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work in 1991
As a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher at the Center for Mindfulness (CFM) and a Dance/Movement Therapist, Meg Chang has been practicing and teaching body awareness as a mindfulness approach for decades. Meg does indeed have a grassroots perspective and strong pedigree when it comes to mindfulness and the UMass Medical School’s MBSR legacy. And while she’d never admit it, Meg may be solely responsible for bringing MBSR to another major medical center outside of UMass Medical School – New York University (NYU-Langone) Medical Center.
In 1991, while Jon Kabat-Zinn was teaching MBSR at UMass, along with Saki Santorelli (CFM Executive Director 2001 - 2018) and Elana Rosenbaum (Senior MBSR Teacher, Mentor and Professional Trainer at the CFM) Meg was teaching relaxation techniques to outpatients in the NYU Patient Education Center. “This was at the height of the AIDS epidemic,” she says. “Our patients were searching for any way to put their lives into perspective and get some relief from the stress of their illness.”
Meg goes on to explain that at some point during this time, a technical media person came in to ‘wire up’ the medical center with closed-circuit television. “He was personally involved with meditation, and suggested that we do a relaxation channel.” So, in addition to videos on diabetes, wound care, and the typical medical issues you’d expect, Meg helped create a relaxation body scan video that aired in-house on the NYU-Langone Medical Center closed-circuit system.
At about the same time, Dan Goleman, columnist for the New York Times and one of the first journalists to write about mindfulness, had published an article about MBSR and Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work. When Meg read the article, it was the first time she became aware of Jon’s work at UMass Medical School and the development of MBSR in the Stress Reduction Clinic (SRC). “I thought it sounded a lot like what I was doing and really felt this new concept, MBSR, was a further continuation of what I was already teaching my patients.”
In the early years of the Stress Reduction Clinic, Jon developed “The World of Relaxation,” a video tape series designed to give inpatients the MBSR resources they needed to engage in meditative work and participate in their own healing while hospitalized. At that time, these were the only videos that were medically based and scientifically supported, and were available 24/7 over UMass Medical Center’s system.
When Meg learned about Jon’s video, she suggested to NYU that they purchase it, which they then streamed 24/7 throughout the hospital. Unbeknownst to Meg, one of Jon’s relatives was in the NYU-Langone Medical Center and saw “The World of Relaxation.” Recognizing Jon, he contacted him to say that they had seen his video.
“As a result of that, Jon knew we were using his video at NYU!” Meg says.
Fast forward a few years to when Meg was joining her husband in Cambridge, MA, where he was attending the Kennedy School of Graduate Studies at Harvard. Meg took the opportunity to get in touch with Jon to let him know she was interested in his work.
“Jon invited me to participate in his class in the Stress Reduction Clinic, where he was the MBSR teacher,” says Meg. “Saki and Elana were teaching at the SRC, and then Ferris Urbanowski started teaching, too. I became deeply interested in MBSR and started spending more time at the Clinic.”
In 1992 Meg was invited to teach in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections Prison Project with George Mumford and Saki, and then at the Inner City Clinic, as well as in the Stress Reduction Clinic itself under the supervision of Saki and Jon.
Meg left UMass several years later to finish her Ed.D. in Adult Learning and Leadership at Columbia University, after which she brought MBSR to the Spencer Cox Center for Health at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, as well as continuing her work as a Dance/Movement Therapist.
Today, Meg is back at the Center for Mindfulness where she has been teaching MBSR and serving as a Learning Specialist for the past three years. She also continues to teach in the Dance/Movement Therapy Masters degree program at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.
Read Meg's complete Bio here.