Mindfulness has become quite the buzzword. Mindfulness apps, colouring books, how-to guides, journals, daily affirmation cards, and ‘jars of mindful tasks’ are easily available to support our quest to become more mindful.
And, on some level, many of us have a feeling that we could do with being a bit more mindful. Perhaps there is a sense that we should be more present in our lives, be more present for others, be less judgemental, enjoy the simple things, and live each day as if it really mattered. But often these are fleeting thoughts, easily swallowed up by bustle of our daily lives or the next fire that needs fighting.
If we really are to become more mindful, to show up more fully for our lives,
then we must begin practicing. But where do we start?
The Mindfulness for Life Programme is a good starting point if there have been times when you have felt stressed, anxious, exhausted, low, or overwhelmed. Or maybe you have a sense that life is somehow passing you by in an endless round of busyness, commitments, and deadlines. Perhaps you are looking for ways to slow down a bit, take care of yourself, or appreciate the simple things in life. Or maybe you just want to learn a little more about mindfulness and meditation to benefit yourself and to support those you care about or work with. Whatever your reason for considering taking up mindfulness, this course is an opportunity to nurture your wellbeing and find greater peace and happiness within the hustle and bustle of your daily life.
BOOK YOUR PLACE ON THE NEXT COURSE
The next course will begin on Friday 2nd February 2024
2.00 - 4.00 pm
at the Coach House Studios, Wirksworth DE4 4ET
There will be an information and taster session on Friday 19th January.
If you are interested in attending this course, or would like further information, please email Jo at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mindfulness for Life is an in depth programme created by the Oxford Mindfulness Foundation.
"The Mindfulness for Life programme offers mindfulness practices and cognitive-behavioural techniques in ways that are intended to be accessible to all. It guides participants in how to apply this learning in everyday life both to manage what is painful and difficult but also to cultivate qualities such as compassion and equanimity. It offers a different way of living that supports people to work with challenges, including recurring patterns of thought and behaviour that create suffering, but also to savour life and to flourish. Mindfulness for Life is an in-depth programme intended to cultivate lasting and sustainable change.
What will you learn?
Mindfulness for Life is a skills-based course rather than group therapy. It cultivates the following understandings:
- Mindfulness starts when we recognise the tendency to be on automatic pilot, which can rob us of our potential for living life more fully. We begin to practise stepping out of automatic pilot by bringing mindfulness to aspects of everyday present-moment experience that we might normally overlook.
- With greater awareness, we begin to notice how often we are lost in our thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness of the body and breathing helps us learn to recognise our thoughts, emotions, sensations, and impulses, gather the scattered mind, and return with appreciation to the here and now.
- We learn that when our attention is caught up in the past or the future, we can get trapped in unhelpful patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting. Mindfulness helps us recognise these automatic reactions, understand them as normal human experiences, and bring kindness and compassion to them.
- As we cultivate attitudes of interest and friendliness toward all of our experiences, whether pleasant or unpleasant, we learn skills for keeping our balance through life’s ups and downs, responding skilfully when difficulties arise, engaging with what is most important to us, and opening up to moments of joy, contentment, and gratitude. We learn to flourish."
The programme is structured over eight weekly sessions with accompanying home mindfulness practice.
The earlier parts of the programme focus on developing mindfulness skills through a range of practices. The intention of these practices is to develop a friendly awareness of experience whether it is pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant, and to enhance concentration.
Throughout there is emphasis on developing an understanding and insight into how dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and distress can develop, and how this process can be addressed by mindfulness training. The core theme is learning to respond compassionately and mindfully in place of unhelpful reactivity.
In the later parts of the programme, there is a growing emphasis on applying the learning to everyday life. This includes working with distress and difficulties, appreciating the positive, being kinder towards yourself, and extending random acts of kindness to others.
The programme includes:
Guided instruction in mindfulness meditation
Gentle stretching and movement
Group dialogue and discussions
Weekly take-home resources and access to downloadable audio meditations
Suggested daily home practices
Week 1: Waking up from Automatic Pilot
Recognising automatic pilot and exploring what happens when you wake up.
Body Scan Meditation – raining attention directly on the body without judging or analysing what you find. Using the practice to begin noticing when the mind is wandering, thinking, or sensing.
Mindful Eating – reconnecting with the senses
Week 2: Another Way of Being: Keeping the Body in Mind
Moving from ‘Living in our Heads’ to ‘Anchoring ourselves in the Present Moment.’
Body Scan meditation – training attention directly on the body without judging or analysing what you find. Using the practice to begin noticing when the mind is wandering, thinking, or sensing.
Body and Breath Meditation - gathering attention to just one thing at a time to stabilise the mind. Seeing what unfolds during this process.
Week 3: Gathering the Scattered Mind
Reconnecting to the present with the body and breath. Exploring feelings and sensations by inhabiting the body more fully.
Mindful Movement practices - building on the process of reintegrating mind with body that began in Weeks 1 and 2. Using the practices to notice the body’s reaction to emerging feelings associated with goal setting, expectations, frustration, and unhappiness.
Week 4: Recognising Reactivity
Becoming more aware of the sensations, feelings, thoughts, and impulses evoked by events. Reactivity to an event or an experience can sometimes take us off down a well-worn path of difficult thoughts, feelings, and unhelpful behaviours.
Sounds and Thoughts Meditation – learning to see your thoughts as mental events that come and go just like sounds.
Week 5: Allowing and Letting Be
Exploring a new way of working with difficulties: approaching and befriending them.
Befriending our experience involves turning towards it and holding it with kindness and care, even when it is unpleasant and painful.
The Exploring Difficulty Meditation – gently and compassionately approaching how the difficulty is sensed within the body. Observing associated thoughts and emotions carefully and with curiosity as they arise and disappear.
Week 6: Thoughts are not always Facts
Exploring negative thoughts and how we can learn to relate to them differently.
Befriending meditation – actively cultivating loving-kindness and compassion and friendship towards yourself.
Experimenting with Acts of Generosity in daily life.
Week 7: How can I Best Take Care of myself?
Exploring the connection between our daily routines, activities, behaviours, and moods.
Using meditation to help you make increasingly more skilful choices – so that you can do more of the things that nourish you, and limit (or handle more carefully) the things that drain and deplete your inner resources.
Week 8: Mindfulness for Life
Weaving mindfulness into your daily life, so that its always there when you need it most.
Mindfulness is essentially a practice, so it will require some commitment on your behalf.
You will be asked to show up to the face-to-face sessions, practice on your own at home, and engage with some simple tasks.
It can be difficult to carve out time and to add yet another thing to our already busy lives. However, those who ‘make a space’ within their daily routines for a little mindfulness practice tend to get the most out of the programme.
Consider the eight weeks as a commitment and investment in your own wellbeing.
A word of caution
This mindfulness programme is not 'talking therapy' despite the many therapeutic effects of this practice.
Some mindfulness exercises may not be helpful if you are dealing with a challenging mental health issue, especially in its acute phase. If you are currently receiving treatment, you may wish to consult with your doctor or therapist to ensure that this programme is right for you at this time.
It is important to take good care of yourself during the programme. If you begin to feel unwell, we ask that you let your course teacher know, and recommend that you speak to your GP or therapist, and draw upon your usual support network.
We also request that you begin with an intention to honour the confidentiality of all participants and course content and will ask you to continue with this throughout.
HOW WILL THE COURSE BE HELPFUL?
Mindfulness is about observing your external and internal present-moment experiences without criticism. It is about being compassionate with yourself. When moments or periods of stress or unhappiness arise, instead of taking these personally, mindfulness helps you to take a step back and observe them with curiosity, kindness, and even friendliness as they unfold and pass by. Mindfulness enables you to become more aware of habitual negative thought patterns and to catch them before they tip your mood into a downward spiral. The practice of mindfulness encourages you to treat yourself with greater patience and kindness and to cultivate open-mindedness and resilience.
You will be invited to engage in some daily home practice every week. Some practices are as short as three minutes, some take 20 -30 minutes. It is helpful to prepare by considering how you might make room in your life for this new commitment.
When and where will you ‘make’ the time and space needed for practice?
Can you look upon this as a time to be yourself and a time for yourself?
Can you make this space warm, comfortable, and as best possible interruption-free?
Do you have access to a device on which you can play the guided meditation practices?
Treat yourself with kindness throughout this time, especially if you run into some rough spots.