Q What is Mindfulness and what can it do for me?
Mindfulness enables us to step back and take a healthy distance from difficult emotions and challenging situations in our lives. This allows us to make choices and responses that are not just based on our habitual, often unhelpful reactions. Mindfulness can make life more enjoyable, interesting and fulfilling. We can learn to ‘be’ with whatever is present, even when it is unpleasant, difficult or painful. Acknowledging and facing up to what is present in our lives is the most effective way to reduce stress and unhappiness.
An eight week course will introduce participants to the theory and practice of mindfulness and how it can be useful in daily life. It draws on elements of two internationally recognised Mindfulness approaches: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. These have been developed over the last thirty years by experts in mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy and compassion-focused therapy. Mindfulness is very simple and it changes lives.
Q What our 8 week courses will and won’t do:
This course will
- teach several key mindfulness practices (described below)
- require participants practise these techniques at home – ideally for up 30 – 40 minutes. To gain most benefit from the course, participants need to put in the practice! The group sessions only act as guidance for developing a home practice.
This course won’t
- offer a therapeutic group or support group setting. Mindfulness is not therapy, but it can be a very useful way of identifying for yourself what support is needed that might perhaps be lacking. The course tutor will be able to signpost participants towards this help.
- necessarily offer any immediate increase in wellbeing! Many people report feeling more centred and focused after doing the practices, or more relaxed and calm. Others don’t report feeling this for some time, but they often benefit from the greater sense of clarity and awareness that mindfulness can bring.
Q How is the course taught?
We follow a prescribed, evidenced format which develops over the eight weeks to offer the optimum support to up to 15 participants. This enables them to :
- Incrementally deepen their experience of the mindfulness practices
- engage with the course material with the support of the teacher
- draw on the challenges and insights of their peers through the inquiry process (reflection following the practices, about what has been experienced). The group dynamic created is instrumental in supporting the learning process
Q How are the sessions structured in the 8 week course?
Every session starts and ends with a short sitting practice. The material is taught using a mixture of teaching, experiential exercises, secular meditation practices, individual reflection and group participation.
5 key Mindfulness practices are taught over the 8 weeks :
- The body scan meditation (a lying down practice)
- Sitting meditation (a chair is fine – no cushions needed)
- Walking meditation (easily applicable practice in daily life)
- Movement meditation (gentle stretching exercises)
- The three step breathing space (grounding practice which can be used throughout the day to re-centre, and particularly in times of stress or difficulty)
Between session 6 and 7, we also offer an practice retreat day, where participants can deepen their experience of each of these forms.
Participants are strongly encouraged to commit to doing the practices at home. Ninety-nine percent of insights happen outside of the teaching time! It is when Mindfulness practice is integrated routinely into every day life, rather like repeatedly training a muscle, that the benefits can be felt. All participants receive audio copies of the practices to use at home, either via mp3 or on CD.
Q Who teaches the courses?
Experienced, qualified teachers
All our teachers have at least 10 years of personal mediation practice, appropriate qualifications and supervision to lead this course. Many of our teachers are mental health professionals. Our teaching team have all been trained at Bangor University’s Centre for Mindfulness, which is a leading international centre for Mindfulness research. They receive regular supervision with an approved professional and receive ongoing support from Norwich Mind.
The teachers’ role is to support participants to experience for themselves the benefits of mindfulness rather than tell them “how it works” in theory. Courses are therefore taught in an informal, participatory style.
Q Does everyone benefit from Mindfulness practice ?
Mindfulness is not appropriate for everyone. Some mental health conditions are contra-indicated – for example if someone is currently experiencing depression, psychosis, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dissociative disorder and so on. We will undertake an initial health questionnaire and interview process to ensure that all attendees are suitable for the course and are undertaking it at a time that is right for them. If someone has recurrent depression, but is not currently experiencing a depressive episode, mindfulness can be very helpful to prevent further relapse.
Q I have a disability, can I join a course?
We welcome clients with physical disabilities and relevant course activities will be adapted sensitively and appropriately.
Q Do I need special equipment to do it?
No. Mindfulness skills develop by doing very simple everyday practices which can be practiced anywhere, at any time. You can do our more formal sitting practices on a chair and you do not have to sit in half lotus!
Q Where’s the evidence ?
Research and Evidence of the Effectiveness of Mindfulness
Over the past five years there have been increasingly rigorous clinical trials and research into the effectiveness of Mindfulness. If you would like more information about this, please contact the WellBusiness team and we will be happy to provide you with links to relevant sources.