Mindfulness is more than a technique: it's a different way to live. It's based on the fact that we all have the capacity to contact a sense of calm and clarity, even if things are difficult. Mindfulness is a way of learning to relate directly to whatever is happening in your life, a way of taking charge of your life, a way of doing something for yourself that no one else can do for you — consciously and systematically working with your own stress, anxiety, pain, illness, and the challenges and demands of everyday life.
In contrast, you’ve probably encountered moments of “mindlessness” — a loss of awareness resulting in forgetfulness, separation from self, and a sense of living mechanically. Restoring within yourself a balanced sense of health and well being requires increased awareness of all aspects of self, including body and mind, heart and soul. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is intended to ignite this inner capacity and infuse your life with awareness.
Reawakening to what you already are...
Fortunately, mindfulness is not something that you have to “get” or acquire. It is already within you — a deep internal resource available and patiently waiting to be released and used in the service of learning, growing, and healing. People participate for reasons as diverse as...
- Stress — job, family or financial
- Chronic pain and illness
- Anxiety, panic and depression.
- GI distress
- Sleep disturbances
- High blood pressure
Many people attend because, although they are feeling well physically, they say the pace of their lives is “out of control” or they’re “just not feeling quite right.” They are sent by their doctors or they are self-referred.
What to expect
On a mindfulness course you'll learn practices and attitudes that let you settle the mind and find a different way of responding to the challenges that life throws at us. It isn't about escaping. It isn't just a way to cope. It's about finding a new way to respond.
The programme we typically teach is an amalgamation of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course, developed by Segal, Williams and Teasdale. It is designed to help participants learn new ways of handling difficult physical sensations, feelings and moods.
The program consists of more than 30 hours of classes during the week. Highly participatory, supportive, and structured, this program will provide you with:
- guided instruction in mindfulness meditation practices;
- gentle stretching and mindful yoga;
- morning practice sessions;
- group dialogue and mindful communication exercises to enhance awareness in everyday life;
- individually tailored instruction;
- a workbook with daily assignments and home practice materials.
The program is challenging and life-affirming.
The instructor, Bodhin is accomplished and skilled at creating a safe, supportive, and deeply engaging experiential learning environment. He will assist you in learning these methods, providing both group and individualized instructions and directions for how to learn, practice, and integrate mindfulness into your everyday life. Participating in the Stress Reduction Program requires an ongoing commitment to yourself.
Meditation is to the mind what aerobic exercise is to the body. Like exercise, there are many good ways to do it and you can find the one that suits you best. Meditation is the quintessential training of attention. Since attention is like a vacuum cleaner – sucking its contents into your brain through what’s called “experience-dependent neuroplasticity” – getting better control of your attention is the foundation of changing your brain, and thus your life, for the better
1. Relax. Rest. Intend to meditate.
2. Find something to anchor attention, such as the sensations of breathing, a work or phrase (e.g., “peace”), or an image.
3. Start by giving attention fully to the anchor, letting go of everything else.
4. Then, with an ongoing awareness of your “anchor,” let your attention widen to include your body, thoughts, feelings and overall atmosphere of your mind.
5. Gently open to relaxing and quieting and breathing in peace.
6. Meditate for as long as you like. Even one minute is good – and ten, twenty, or even forty-five minutes could be even better.
Research shows that meditation can bring significant improvements to your health, happiness, and well-being. Now you too can experience these benefits. Weaving together the latest scientific research with ancient Buddhist wisdom, this course provides a comprehensive introduction to living mindfully. It’s not just about the skills of meditation. You’ll also learn how to take what you learn into action. This course gives you the tools to gain more insight into yourself, and be more at ease and content through life's ups and downs. Mindfulness is about waking up to a new way of seeing things. And that’s not easy to do on your own. In this course, unlike when you study from a book or CD, you’ll be guided personally by an experienced teacher. Students say this is the most valuable part of the course.
paying attentionin a particular way:
in the present moment,
- Jon Kabat-Zinn
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmental to things as they are.
Pay attention to what? you might ask. To anything, but especially to those aspects of life that we most take for granted or ignore. For instance, we might start paying attention to the basic components of experience, like how we feel, what is on our minds, and how we perceive or know anything at all. Mindfulness means paying attention to things as they actually are in any given moment, however they are, rather than as we want them to be. Why does paying attention in this way help? Because it is the exact antithesis to the type of ruminative thinking that makes low moods persist and return.
First, mindfulness is intentional. When we are cultivating mindfulness, we can be more aware of present reality and the choices available to us. We can act with awareness. By contrast, rumination is often an automatic reaction to whatever triggers us. It is tantamount to unawareness, being lost in thought.
Second, mindfulness is experiential, and it focuses directly on present moment experience. By contrast, when we ruminate, our minds are preoccupied with thoughts and abstractions that are far away from direct sensory experience. Rumination propels our thoughts into the past or into an imagined future.
Third, mindfulness is non-judgmental. its virtue is that it allows us to see things as they actually are in the present moment and to allow them to be as they already are. By contrast, judging and evaluating are integral to rumination and the entire doing mode. Judgments of any sort (good or bad, right or wrong) imply that we or the things around us have to measure up in some way to an internal or external standard. The habit of judging ourselves severely disguises itself as an attempt to help us to live better lives and to be better people, but in actuality the habit of judging winds up functioning as an irrational tyrant that can never be satisfied.
Practicing mindfulness is more than just noticing things around us that we hadn’t noticed before It is learning to become aware of the particular mode of mind that gets us stuck when misapplied to ourselves and our emotional life.
With an increasing ability to sustain mindfulness, we can explore what happens when our emotions are allowed to come and go in awareness with a non-judgmental attitude and self-compassion.
The practice of mindfulness teaches us to shift into being mode so that we can be more at peace with our emotions. Our emotions are not the enemy, after all, but messages that reconnect us in the most basic and intimate of ways with the adventure and experience of being alive.
MIND, BODY, AND EMOTION
MINDFULNESS: THE SEEDS OF AWARENESS
In a sense we’ve been familiar with this alternative capacity of ours all along. it's just that the doing mode of mind has eclipsed it. This capacity does not work by critical thinking but through awareness itself. We call it the being mode of mind.
We don’t only think about things. We also experience them directly through our senses. We are capable of directly sensing and responding to things like tulips, cars, and a cold wind. And we can be aware of ourselves experiencing. We have intuitions about things and feelings. We know things not only with the head, but also with the heart and with the senses. Furthermore, we can be aware of ourselves thinking; thinking is not all there is to conscious experience. The being mode is an entirely different way of knowing from the thinking of doing mode. Not better, just different. But it gives us a whole other way of living our lives and of relating to our emotions, our stress, our thoughts, and our bodies. And it is a capacity that we all already have. it's just been a bit neglected and underdeveloped.
Being mode is the antidote to the problems that the doing mode of mind creates.
By cultivating the awareness of being mode we can:
- Get out of our heads and learn to experience the world directly, experientially, without the relentless commentary of our thoughts. We might just open ourselves up to the limitless possibilities for happiness that life has to offer us.
- See our thoughts as mental events that come and go in the mind like clouds across the sky instead of taking them literally. The idea that we're no good, unlovable, and ineffectual can finally be seen as just that—an idea—and not necessarily as the truth, which just might make it easier to disregard.
- Start living right here, in each present moment. When we stop dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, we’re open to rich sources of information we’ve been missing out on—information that can keep us out of the downward spiral and poised for a richer life.
- Disengage the autopilot in our heads. Being more aware of ourselves—through the senses, the emotions, and the mind—can help us aim our actions where we really want them to go and make us effective problem solvers.
- Sidestep the cascade of mental events that draws us down into depression. When awareness is cultivated, we may be able to recognize at an early stage the times we are most likely to slide into depression and respond to our moods in ways that keep us from being pulled down further.
- Stop trying to force life to be a certain way because we’re uncomfortable right now. Well be able to see that wanting things to be different from how they are right now is where rumination begins.
So we need to learn how to cultivate the type of awareness we’re talking about. The core skill is mindfulness. It can profoundly change your life.
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was founded by Professors John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Mark Williams. They adapted elements of MBSR and combined them with elements of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to develop a program to prevent relapse of depression.
The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program was founded in 1979 by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues at the Stress Reduction Clinic of the University of Massachusetts, Department of Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, in Worcester, Mass. U.S.A. MBSR has been successfully implemented in hundreds of hospitals, clinics, health centers and other settings around the world. In Europe the program has been taught successfully since the early 1990s and interest has continued to grow steadily. MBSR is described in detail in Kabat-Zinn ́s book Full Catastrophe Living.