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"The present moment is  a powerful Goddess"

                                                                                                    Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe

 

“The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feel anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.”

                                                                                Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

Mindfulness

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state of being that is grounded in moment to moment awareness of all aspects of our experience. It is paying attention to things as they actually are in any given moment, however they are, rather than how we would like them to be, without trying to change anything.

We become mindful when we purposely pay attention to things we ordinarily never give a moments thought to. For example our internal processes of breathing, body sensations, thoughts and feelings as well as external objects and events. Through doing this we can develop new kinds of control and wisdom in our lives, enrich our experience and see things from a new perspective.

We can teach ourselves the art of attention and awareness by developing and maintaining mindfulness meditation practice. Meditation begins by focusing on the breath and the body before progressing to the mind, emotions and the more advanced practices of Loving-kindness and Choiceless Awareness. See the information below on Mindfulness courses for further details.

Mindfulness has its origins in Buddhism, where it is viewed as a pivotal discipline in the liberation from suffering and the acquisition of knowledge or enlightenment.  However it has been developed as a secular practice that is being used in many different settings including health, education, the corporate world and the military with impressive consequences.

 

How might mindfulness be helpful?

Much of the time we go through life on autopilot, functioning mechanically, mindlessly, not really aware of what we are doing or experiencing, acting out of habit, multi-tasking, rushing from one thing to the next, striving to get things done, trying to change things, wanting things to be different to how they are. We might spend large amounts of time dwelling on the past, wishing things had been different, clinging to memories, regretting things that have happened. We might be worrying endlessly about the future and what we want or don’t want to happen.

Mindfulness helps us live in the moment. It offers us a new way of relating to our experience, with awareness. It allows us to step inside ourselves and observe. It enables us to deal with our thoughts, feelings and sensations differently, letting go of ruminating, freeing ourselves from habitual, automatic ways of reacting so we can mindfully respond in more skilful ways. Mindfulness enables us to really "wake up and smell the coffee", to taste our food, to see things through new eyes, to notice what is beautiful and meaningful in our lives. Becoming more aware can help us to accept and enjoy the life we have as it is. Mindfulness can help reduce stress levels, by moving the mind out of “doing” mode to a “being” mode, by learning to accept what is, rather than dwelling on how we would like it to be, by giving us some distance from the whirlwind of our thoughts. By being more mindful relationships improve as we are aware of our behaviour and its effect on others and can choose how to behave. In addition mindfulness allows us to be in touch with our bodies, aware of how it is affected by the environment, our actions or inactions, our thoughts and emotions. Learning to listen to our bodies is vital to improving health and quality of life.

Studies into the effects of  mindfulness programmes in schools indicate:

  • Better reading and test scores
  • Less absenteeism
  • 25% less aggression in playgrounds
  • Better attention and better concentration, greater working memory and ability to adjust to change
  • Quicker reactivity in answering questions
  • Better interpersonal relationships
  • Improved ability to manage stress - as evidenced by lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol present in saliva
  • 63% rise in optimism
  • Improved classroom behaviour
  • More engaged in learning
  • Less depression
  • Increased ability to control emotion
  • Reduced likelihood of drug use 

 Studies in healthcare have shown that practicing mindfulness;

  • Boosts the immune system,
  • Reduces blood pressure,
  • Helps with pain and reduces the use of pain relief medication,
  • Improves the quality of life in cancer patients,
  • Reduces psychological distress in people with long-term conditions
  • Reduces rumination/ worrying in anxiety and depression
  • Reduces the risk of relapse in depression
  • Helps regulate emotions.

In the business world mindfulness programmes have been used and resulted in increased productivity, substantial reductions in stress-related absenteeism, a workforce that is better engaged and focused and has improved relationships with colleagues.

 Introductory Workshop

If you want to find our more about mindfulness and live in the East Dorset/ Hampshire area, why not come along to  one of these sessions. If you then decide you want to sign up for an 8 week MBSR course, you get your workshop fee refunded. The next Introduction to Mindfulness Workshop  will be in early 2016 at The Arch Clinic, Fordingbridge, Hampshire. Please contact me for further details.

 

 The 8 Week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Group.

 

This Mindfulness Course is designed for anyone who wants to learn the practice of mindfulness meditation. It is based on the pioneering work of Jon Kabat-Zinn who set up the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre in 1979, where he used mindfulness meditation to help thousands of people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness.

The course looks at how to set up a mindfulness practice at home and how to bring it into the rest of our daily lives. Those attending will learn:

  • How to practice and learn mindfulness meditation
  • The core principles of mindfulness
  • How mindfulness can improve stress levels, health and quality of life
  • How to deal with everyday situations and living.

Each week we practice mindful meditation exercises in the class. These include mindfulness of the breath, the body, mindful movement and loving kindness meditation. Participants are encouraged to share any experiences from these exercises.

Regular home practice is an important part of the course and as well as formal mediation practice, informal practices, i.e. being mindful while engaging in everyday tasks, is also promoted.

Home practice requires dedicated time, commitment and perseverance. Participants are encouraged to approach the course with the same spirit of patience and persistence that one may apply for getting physically fit, We take time in the group to reflect on home practice each week, which can include any difficulties regarding the practice, either in getting to do it or things that arise in doing the practice. Much of the learning in the course will be drawn from these experiences.

 

A course handbook is provided for participants and meditation downloads are available to assist practice.

The next Group is planned for early 2016 at The Arch Clinic, Fordingbridge, Hampshire. Contact me for further details or to book a place.

 

One-to-One Sessions

If you would like to learn mindfulness but do not like the idea of being part of a group, I am happy to offer a series of individual sessions based on the MBSR programme. Please contact me for further details.

On-line Mindfulness Course

An on-line 8 session course is available for people or groups of people who are unable to access the local courses. Please contact me for further details.

 

Courses for Organisations

If your organisation is interested in having a course for staff, please do contact me and I would be delighted to put together an offer to meet your needs.