Mindfulness

Lady practicing mindful meditation

Mindfulness is all about how we pay attention. Normally our attention is random and is pulled here and there by our habits.

Most of the time this is not helpful because we tend to dwell on negatives: re-living past issues or worrying about things in the future. So much of the time we live in the past or future, but life happens now.

Mindfulness training is intentionally to bring our minds to what is happening in the present, while at the same time not judging our thoughts and feelings.

We train to be fully present with whatever we are doing while we are doing it. This can make our lives much simpler, happier and more effective.

Why practice mindfulness?

Most of the time our attention is divided: for example, we eat our lunch and think about the afternoon ahead or we drive our car and dwell on what happened in the morning. Our minds are either dwelling in the past or anticipating the future. This is stressful because it fragments our attention and dissipates our energy. We are pulled in different directions causing mental agitation, tension and anxiety.

The practice of mindfulness is to focus all of our attention on one thing and to do it properly - when we eat lunch, we just eat lunch. Life is happening in the present moment.

Lady practicing mindfulness meditation on the beach

If we are not in the present moment we are living in a world of thoughts – mostly negative thoughts. We often live our lives on autopilot, carrying out routine activities while our minds are jumping around in the past or future like a monkey jumping from tree to tree. This robs us of the precious experiences of life: we do not connect with the people we love. We see them fleetingly and then drift into the thoughts and issues that are preoccupying us. We eat without really tasting, hear without listening and see without really seeing.

We live in a state of unawareness and often miss what is most meaningful in our lives.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Research has shown that mindfulness has wide ranging benefits such as the management of stress, anxiety, pain, chronic illness, hypertension, heart disease, cancer and prevention of depressive relapse.

Those who integrate mindfulness into their lives report benefits, such as less stress, greater ease, being more at ease with oneself and others, and working more creatively with challenges. Mindfulness has also been shown to increase brain size.

If we maintain a regular practice of mindfulness, the cascading thoughts and emotions start to settle. We start to experience more space and clarity in our minds. In the beginning it is like we walk into a darkened room, which is the unaware mind. As mindfulness strengthens the room starts to light up, almost as if someone is turning up the dimmer switch. We start to see the furniture in the room. We start to see what is going on in our minds, what patterns are driving us and what pain we are suppressing.

Spacious landscape, the mind is vast

We begin to see that there is a space between ourselves and our thoughts and that most of the time we latch onto and run with whatever thoughts pop up in our mind. We don’t notice this space. Mindfulness practice is about recognising and developing this space.

We then realise that we have a choice as to what thoughts we think. We don’t have to dwell on negative thoughts. We can instead cultivate positive ones. A lot of the time we dwell on negative thoughts and feed our life energy into them.

We then begin to see that the mind is very powerful and it creates our entire experience. If we cultivate wholesome thoughts and feelings we attract wholesome experiences into our life. If we dwell on negative thoughts and feelings, we attract negative experiences.

As our practice deepens further, we realise that none of what is going on in our minds is solid and real. We make it solid and real. We notice how the mind grasps onto experiences, makes them solid and calls them ‘me’.

The more we practice mindfulness the more well-being, peacefulness and clarity begins to emerge in our mind. We realise that there is no problem and nothing is wrong. We have just been in the grip of a fever that we have taken to be real. This fever is our habitual way of thinking and judging and reacting. And if we feed it, it continues endlessly.

To use a simple analogy, it is like the clouds obscuring the sun. The clouds represent all our worries, busy thoughts and ups and downs. The sun represents our inner well being and peacefulness which is always there behind the clouds. Through practicing mindfulness the clouds start to break and disperse and the sun begins to shine through more and more.

Introduction to Mindfulness Workshop

This one day workshop will introduce you to the key principles of mindfulness and introduce some simple practices to help you cultivate mindfulness in daily life. The day will include guided mindfulness meditation, gentle movement practices, mindfulness talks and discussion.

Mindfulness is a practical technique that is easy to learn. People who are more mindful are much more able to deal with the stress of modern living. Mindfulness helps us become more productive and able to find creative solutions in our lives and builds resilience and well-being.

No previous experience is necessary and the day is fully guided. The workshop is for people who are curious about mindfulness and may be considering further training such as an Eight Week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course.

Fee for the workshop is £50 / £40 concessions

To book your place please contact us.

Mindful Compassion Workshop

This one day workshop will introduce the key principles and practice of Mindful Compassion; a synthesis of Western therapeutic and Buddhist approaches outlined in Mindful Compassion (2013) by Paul Gilbert and Choden.

We learn a step by step approach to developing the inner compassionate self by first building the foundation of mindfulness, learning to work with difficulty and cultivating a warm and receptive inner environment from which to respond to ourself and others. In doing this we will experience the healing and transformative quality compassion brings to both our inner and outer environment.

The day will include guided meditation, gentle movement practices, talks and discussion. The workshop is open to those who have some previous experience of mindfulness.

Fee for the workshop is £50 / £40 concessions

To book your place please contact us.

Eight Week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course

The eight week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course is the world famous programme of Mindfulness training developed by Jon Kabat Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre in 1979. MBSR aims to help you take better care of yourself and get the most out of life. The aim of the programme is to learn new ways of dealing with challenging physical sensations, feelings, moods or social interactions.

  • an increased ability to relax
  • greater energy and enthusiasm for life
  • heightened self-confidence
  • an increased ability to cope more effectively with stressful situations

What does the course involve?

The MBSR programme is run over eight weeks in two-hour evening sessions. A whole day of Mindfulness practice in the form of a retreat is included after week six. If you are unable to attend the retreat or the occasional evening you will have the opportunity to make this up on a future course. To get the most out of coming to the class requires some commitment and each participant is required to undertake home practice in between classes.

Who is the course for?

Everyone! The programme is known to benefit people with a range of problems of both a physical and a psychological nature, but we all have times in our lives when we experience difficulty, stress and struggle. Developing greater awareness can help us change how we approach our experiences, take more pleasure in the good things and deal more effectively with difficulties.

The course fee is £200 / £150 concessions and includes eight evening classes, one day retreat and course materials.

To book your place please contact us.

Mindfulness Practice Retreat

A silent practice day is open to those who have already completed an 8 week Mindfulness Course. Regular retreat is recommended as a helpful way of renewing and deepening our Mindfulness practice.

We will spend much of the day in silence, and you will be led in meditations and other practices from the 8 Week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course.

This is an opportunity to deepen your mindfulness practice, with the support of a group of others working in the same way. It is also a time to experience the benefit of dropping into silence.

We encourage you to see the day as a time to be with yourself in a nurturing way. There will be an opportunity to ask questions and check things out as we start and at the end to reflect on your experiences.

Fee for the retreat is £50 /£40 concessions.

To book your place please contact us.

Mindfulness Development Group

This fortnightly group is for those with some experience of mindfulness - ideally having completed the Eight Week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course.

We will explore how to develop a daily practice of Mindfulness so some prior experience is necessary.

The group will be an opportunity to learn and practice various mindfulness based approaches including practices from Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Association curriculum as well as Mindful Compassion and Mindful Self Compassion (Prof Paul Gilbert and Choden and Drs Chris Germer and Kristin Neff). The aim of the group is to provide a space to support each other's mindfulness practice, review past themes and explore new themes and will involve inquiry and discussion.

Please note whilst we will be doing some movement practices these will be gentle and in the spirit of mindfulness rather than strenuous exercise. Be prepared by wearing loose and comfortable clothing and bring a blanket and or cushions for your comfort - yoga mats will be provided if we need them.

Fee for the group is £15 / £10 concessions. Places are usually limited so booking if often required. To book your place please contact us.

One-to-One Mindfulness Training

There are different reasons why you might choose one to one Mindfulness training.

Perhaps you have something specific you want to work on and require more personal attention than a group situation can offer.

Or maybe you are shy or going through something challenging and feel more comfortable working individually.

When we work one to one our sessions can be specifically tailored to your needs using a variety of Mindfulness Based approaches. We may explore Mindful Compassion and Mindful Self Compassion practices as well as the more traditional Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Association curriculum.