|Living this way we often fail to notice the beauty of life, fail to hear what our bodies are telling us and we all too often become stuck in mechanical conditioned ways of thinking and living that may be harmful to ourselves or others.
On autopilot we tend to get lost in ‘doing’ so we find ourselves constantly striving and struggling and ‘getting stuff done’ instead of really living.
We also become vulnerable to anxiety, stress, depression and reactivity. Research shows, in fact, that the more our minds wander, the less happy we are.
‘Life is still full, but when I practise mindfulness I stress less and enjoy life more’
-Chief Executive, International Charity
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness.
It means waking up out of autopilot and ‘taking the steering wheel’ of our attention again.
We practice mindfulness by maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment.
Mindfulness also involves non-judgment, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings with the attitude of an impartial witness — without believing them or taking them personally.
Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as:
in the present moment, and
Through this definition, Jon shows us that there are three specific ways in which our attention ‘shifts gears’ when we practice mindfulness.
Firstly our attention is held…
1. On Purpose
Mindfulness involves the conscious and deliberate direction of our attention.
When we’re on autopilot our attention is being swept up by a never-ending (and not always positive) current of thought processes but when we’re mindful we ‘wake up’ and step out of that current, placing attention where we choose.
Another way of saying ‘on purpose’ is conscious. We are living more consciously, more awake, more fully ourselves when we pay attention in this way.
Secondly, our attention is immersed…
2. In The Present Moment
If we leave it to its own devices our mind habitually wanders away from the present moment. It constantly gets caught up in the replaying of the past and the projecting into the future. In other words, we’re very rarely fully present in the moment.
Mindful attention, however, is completely engaged in the present moment experience – the here and now. We let go of the tension caused by wanting things to be different, the tension of constantly wanting more, and instead, we accept the present moment as it is.
And third, our attention is held…
When practising mindfulness we’re not aiming to control or suppress or stop our thoughts.
We simply aim to pay attention to our experiences as they arise without judging or labelling them in any way.
Mindfulness then allows us to become the watcher of sense perceptions, thoughts and emotions as they arise without getting caught up in them and being swept away in their current.
Becoming the watcher in this way, we’re less likely to mechanically play out old habitual ways of thinking and living. It opens up a new freedom and choice in our lives.
‘I respond rather than react more now. I feel calmer. I feel more still, relaxed and resilient. Thank you so much, Sue! You are so caring and patient and your grounded energy has been really helpful and insightful
|Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Course
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses are designed for you to learn new ways of handling negative thoughts and difficult emotions. This helps prevent and alleviate low mood, depression, anxiety and stress and can lead to a much a richer experience of life.
Mindfulness can enable you to see things differently. It can increase your sense of personal confidence, of having more options and more strength to face the different challenges in your life.
The courses are taught in two-hour sessions at weekly intervals lasting eight weeks – plus an optional all-day session usually on a Saturday.
They provide a high level of practical and theoretical guidance and support in the practices of mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. Home practice is an important part of the course, and each participant is required to undertake to do 40 to 60 minutes of this, six days per week, between each class.
Recommended for use in the NHSThe Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course is widely approved by the healthcare professions, and backed by scientific research. Our programmes are based on the MBSR course developed by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, emeritus professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, as well as the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course developed by Professor Zindel Segal, Mark Williams (Professor of Clinical Psychology, Oxford University) and Dr John Teasdale (Cambridge).
'Thank you, Sue - the course has been really helpful and enriching'
Recommended by NICE
Clinical research has consistently shown mindfulness is helpful for working with a wide range of conditions, as well as for optimising well-being. The MBCT course we use is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for use in the NHS (NICE clinical guidelines are recommendations on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS in England and Wales. They are based on the best available evidence and aim to improve the quality of healthcare by changing the process of healthcare and improving people's chances of getting as well as possible).
The benefits of mindfulness practice are cumulative. Therefore regular practice is needed to get the best out of the course. You may notice after the first few sessions of the course a considerable improvement in how you feel, but there may be times when it feels that little is happening. Continuing the training and following the practices are essential.
Recommended reading is an important part of the course but of less importance than the practices.
The eight weeks of the course costs £250 for the courses in East Grinstead, West Sussex and in Godstone and Caterham in Surrey - and covers the taught sessions, a free introduction and a free follow up session, an all-day workshop, a set of MP3 downloads (or CDs) to support home practice and a workbook.
There are a few concessions for those who are in full-time education or in receipt of benefits and not currently working. Details available on request.