Through mindfulness you learn to
notice habitual, ruminative thought patterns and disengage from them
prevent mild states of distress from spiralling out of control
stop the inner battle and self-judgement
develop a more body-centered, grounded awareness
open up a sense of inner peace and perspective
respond wisely and creatively to life’s circumstances
improve our self-esteem
enhance our enjoyment of life - rather than being on ‘automatic pilot’ most of the time.
How can mindfulness help me?
The mindfulness approach helps you to see more clearly the patterns of your mind; you gradually come to recognize the links between unpleasant experience, negative thoughts and distressing moods. But rather than trying to change the content of your thoughts, or trying not to think (a misconception of meditation), the emphasis is on changing the relationship to your thoughts. They are like the turbulence at the surface of a still ocean. Or like clouds in a clear blue sky. So you can learn to rest in the present moment, without having to ruminate about the past, or worry about the future. There will still be unpleasant experience (because life will always offer you both, pleasure and pain), but you can lessen the suffering that is the result of unhelpful, automatic reactions to that. Mindfulness practise has been shown to modify the structure of the brain, shrinking the fight and flight centre and enhancing the higher order brain capacaties for awareness, concentration and decision making. It reduces stress and inflammation and helps to deal with pain.
Mindfulness is a way of being present to our moment-by-moment experience, with an attitude of acceptance, curiosity and kindness.
Unhappiness, stress and depression are on the rise: the World Health Organisation estimates that depression will pose the second-biggest health burden globally by 2020. Hundreds of research studies have shown that the practise of mindfulness not only helps to relieve stress and anxiety, but also improves sleep, effectiveness at work, decrease irritability and satisfaction in close relationships. It has shown to improve the immune system and is applied to a wide range ot health conditions such as chronic pain, cancer, chronic fatigue, dependence on drugs and alcohol, tinnitus, skin conditions, and many more.
Our mindfulness training is usually delivered in the form of 8 or 9 week courses including a day retreat. It offers a range of effective methods for dealing with stress, anxiety and depression in our daily lives. It is based on MBCT (Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy) and MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction), programmes that combine contemporary medical research and ancient Buddhist approaches to well-being. The main part of the training is done during home practice.
What are the main components of the programme?
The main methods are mindful movement (a gentle form of yoga), bodyscan meditation (lying down) and sitting meditation. In each class, you have an opportunity to talk about your experiences with the home practices, the obstacles that inevitably arise, and how to deal with them skilfully. Each class is organized around a theme that is explored through both group inquiry and mindfulness practice.
Who is this course for?
The programme is effective for people who experience stress, anxiety and depression, as well as a variety of health conditions. It is also ideal for anyone who is looking for tools to bring more calm and perspective into their lives and is prepared to put in the required time to practise (on average 1 hour daily). It doesn't substitute therapy and it may not be suitable for people experiencing certain mental health conditions. Therefore it is important to talk to the tutor before embarking on the course.
I have a busy life - do I really need to practice at home?
Changing old patterns of thinking and behaviour is not easy and requires commitment to practising on a daily basis, for 30 –90 minutes. From week to week there is a slightly different combination of suggested practices. Recordings and written hand-outs will support your efforts, as well as receiving help in the group to identify and deal with common hindrances to regular practice.
How many people will be in the class and will I need to speak in a group?
The maximum number will be 18. As a means of support for your training, there will be opportunities to explore your experience within small groups but nobody is required to speak. We will not dwell on past experience or search for psychological explanations, but investigate our present experience.
Do I need to be interested in Buddhism?
When Prof. Dr. John Kabat Zinn, 20 years ago, began to explore the mindfulness approach within the context of Western medicine, he based it on his personal practice within the Buddhist tradition. However, the course is secular in nature and is open to anyone, regardless of belief.