What happens on a Mindfulness Course?
The 8-week (sometimes 9-weeks including an orientation session) mindfulness course combines meditation techniques with useful elements of cognitive behavioral therapy, mindful movement and walking, Chi Gung and some instruction on the body and brain and our responses to stress.
In the first half of the course we focus on cultivating our awareness of body sensations, feelings and thoughts, and learning to notice them and distinguish between them.
The course involves a number of seated, lying, and movement-based meditation practices. You do not need to be fit or mobile, as all of the practices can be modified according to your needs.
In small groups we gently discuss our experiences afterwards, and the focus is on what is happening in the present moment. Everything is by invitation and participants are encouraged to take part in discussions only if they feel comfortable doing so. It is always ok to opt out of some exercises and sit quietly instead.
The course is not a ‘therapy’ group and will feel different from discussion-based groups where people share personal
experiences and connect with each other through this. Sharing will be gently restricted to present moment experiences, and is completely optional.
Having said this, being prepared to share some of your experiences of the meditation practices will increase the benefits of the course.
I encourage participants to keep an open mind and try out mindfulness to see if it is helpful. An ‘engaged skepticism’ is fine, and a willingness to be open and to see how it feels, very useful.
A really important part of the course is the willingness to plan for 30 minutes of ‘home practice’ daily. It can be a challenge fitting this into busy lives and we will have ample opportunities to discuss and share ways of working towards this.
Research has shown that outcomes from taking a mindfulness course are directly related to the amount of home practice participants manage to do so this element of the course is very important.
Why Take A Mindfulness Course?
There is a lot of research citing the benefits of taking a mindfulness Course. Participants sometimes notice dramatic and transformational changes in the way they feel, whilst for others the effects are subtle and cumulative.
Some of these areas of research have shown significant improvements in the following:
Stress, anxiety and worry
Low mood and depression
Attention and concentration
Self esteem and relationships
Difficulties relaxing and sleeping
Ability to cope whilst living with chronic pain
Ability to cope whilst living with long term chronic health conditions
General quality and enjoyment of life.
When not to take a Mindfulness Course
One of the core skills in mindfulness practice involves gently turning towards our experience as it is, (including turning towards difficult experiences), in order to begin to learn to work with them more skillfully. There are times in our lives when this might be difficult. If you are currently experiencing any of the following then the course might not be right for you at this particular time:
You have experience of a recent bereavement
You are experiencing a major depressive episode and or having suicidal thoughts
You have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or suspect you have untreated PTSD
You are experiencing frequent panic attacks and or very acute anxiety.
You have active substance misuse issues.
However, we are all individuals, with different histories, and responses to life experiences. If you have experience of the above but would like to discuss taking the course, please don’t hesitate to contact me and we can discuss the situation in more detail.