What is Mindfulness?
Have you ever gone for a walk and suddenly realised you have gone a long way and not noticed anything along the way? Have you driven a car and not realised how far you had travelled? Sometimes we fail to notice and we live ‘mindlessly’ or in ‘auto pilot’. As human beings we are easily distracted and create habits of thinking back on past events or predicting the future. Mindfulness is a gentle way of being present and seeing clearly what is happening in our lives. It offers a way of freeing us from the automatic pilot and unhelpful ways of thinking and responding. Noticing the breath is a way of bringing us to the present moment and sometimes helps us to find some calm and a moment of stillness.
Mindfulness refers to a depth of awareness that is at the very core of our being and the practice of mindfulness supports us in nourishing and cultivating this simple awareness. Introducing mindfulness into daily life supports us in living life with a sense of contentment and clarity, it nourishes the body, mind and emotions. Put simply, it means having moment-to-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the surrounding environment. It is a very simple form of meditation that was little known in the West until recently. While it is central to Buddhist tradition, evidence of mindfulness can be seen in many spiritual traditions. The Angelus bell is a common example of mindfulness practice, we are simply invited to stop and become aware for a moment. Having said that, mindfulness stands alone in the 21st century as an effective secular practice.
Mindfulness in daily life
By living mindfully we can be aware of the present moment and live life more fully. While performing daily tasks we can be unaware of what we do. Research recognises that practicing mindfulness can have a positive effect on well-being of mind, body and spirit. Our minds are sometimes elsewhere. Partly, this is habit, living on ‘automatic pilot’. Developing the habit of being aware allows us to see each moment as a new beginning, a new opportunity. It helps create balance in the mind and frees us from limited thinking. In theory many of us know this, we have read about it again and again, however while theory informs us, we need practise to convince us.
Benefits of Mindfulness
One of the greatest benefits of mindfulness is that it can be used anywhere. Mindfulness meditation is flexible and mobile. We do not need to be experienced in meditation to be mindful. However a regular meditation practice helps to bring mindfulness into daily life. As we develop the habit of practising mindfulness our aptitude for relaxing and letting go grows. Mindfulness is not relaxation, however relaxation can be one of the outcomes of practicing mindfulness.
In modern day living many people repeatedly experience the inappropriate arousal of the ‘Stress Response’ in the body. During the ‘Stress Response’ there are increases in metabolism, heart rate, respiration and blood pressure. If we do not give ourselves an opportunity to release this stress it can build and lead to ill-health. It is widely accepted that inducing deep relaxation counteracts the effects of the ‘Stress’ or ‘Flight or Fight’ response. Mindfulness does not remove daily stresses and strains. However, it can help us to respond with calmness and awareness. Mindfulness offers adults and children simple techniques to experience present moment awareness.
Inner peace is generally obscured by obsessive thinking and doing, but may be uncovered through stillness. Experiencing ‘inner peace’ however, need not require years of training. It need not require sitting for extended periods in meditation, it may be touched in one moment of mindfulness.
- Supports restful sleep
- Encourage the development of mindful living
- Improve attention and concentration
- Improve creativity and productivity
- Support efficient and effective work
- Improve self-esteem and self-worth
- Enhance emotional intelligence and resilience
- Counteract the stress response
- Enhance communication skills
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit” Aristotle
Elements of the Mindfulness Attitude
Seven elements of the mindfulness attitude required to achieve a mindful state:
1. Non-Judging: taking the role of an impartial observer to whatever your current experience is. This means not making a positive or negative evaluation of what is happening, just simply observing it.
2. Patience: cultivating the understanding that things must develop in their own time.
3. Beginner’s Mind: having the willingness to observe the world as if it was your first time doing so. This creates an openness that is essential to being mindful.
4.Trust: having trust in yourself, your intuition and your abilities.
5. Non-Striving: the state of not doing anything, just simply accepting that things are happening in the moment just as they are supposed to.
6. Acceptance: completely accepting the thoughts, feelings, sensations, and beliefs that you have, and understanding that they are simply those things only.
7. Non-Attachment: avoidance of attaching meaning to thoughts and feelings, or connecting a given thought to a feeling. Instead, let a thought or feeling come in and pass without connecting it to anything, observing them exactly as they are.
Drop in class in Letterkenny Wed 6:15pm, €10 drop in, duration 1hr. One to One option also available, €45, duration 1hr. Contact 086 237 5619 to schedule.
Check out the popular 8 week MBSR/MBCT course below. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is a combination of MBSR and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behaviour (MBCT).
Mindfulness Courses – MBSR and MBCT
At Integral Therapy the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is a combination of MBSR and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behaviour (MBCT).
Although Mindfulness is primarily rooted in Eastern spiritual traditions, in recent years it has been brought together with aspects of western psychology to form a secular educational programme. Taught over 8 weeks, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) programmes promote self-awareness, personal development and general well-being.
The 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programme (MBSR)
The 8-week MBSR was developed in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center (UMass) by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. Since then the programme has been adapted by others in various psychological and medical settings to address the specific health needs of different groups.
Extensive research has shown that MBSR is beneficial to people with medical conditions (including chronic illness and pain, high blood pressure,cancer, vascular and respiratory disorders and many others), psychological distress (including anxiety, panic, depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbances) as well as in preventative medicine and wellness programmes. MBSR has become part of a newly recognised field of integrative medicine within behavioural medicine and general health care. Since it’s inception, more than 20,000 people have completed the MBSR programme at UMass. There are currently MBSR programmes running in 240 hospitals in the USA.
The course structure – a pre-course orientation (phone conversation or meeting), 8 weekly classes of between 2 and 3 hours in length (2hrs at Integral Therapy – the break is taken out) and a full Day of Mindfulness practice between weeks 5 & 7 of the 8 week course.
The 8-week Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
These courses have been developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale. Based on the MBSR programme and including aspects of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the MBCT course was originally designed specifically for people who experience recurrent bouts of depression. Participants are taught skills to assist them in disengaging from habitual ‘automatic’ unhelpful cognitive patterns. The pattern of mind that makes people vulnerable to depressive relapse is rumination, in which the mind repetitively reruns negative thoughts. The core skill that MBCT is teaching is to intentionally ‘shift mental gears’. These Mindfulness-Based courses are not group therapy, but are educational in nature.
“The UK National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recently endorsed MBCT as an effective treatment for prevention of depression relapse. Research has shown that people who have been clinically depressed 3 or more times (sometimes over twenty years or more) find that taking the programme and learning these skills helps to reduce considerably their chances that depression will return. The evidence from two randomized clinical trials of MBCT indicates that it reduces rates of relapse by 50% among patients who suffer from recurrent depression.”
(Ma and Teasdale, 2004., Teasdale et al 2000). The MBCT program has recently been shown to be as effective as antidepressants for recurring depression.
Mindfulness based approaches have also been used to support the treatment of addiction, cancer, eating disorders, chronic pain, anxiety, relationship enhancement in couples.
For more information contact Denise on 086 237 5619 about the next course availability.
ABOUT THE MBSR/MBCT PROGRAMME
The programme consists of 8 weekly sessions and a one-day retreat. A lot of emphasis is put on daily home practice which will range from 15 to 40 minutes – this is supported by a custom workbook and audios.
The sessions offer guided instruction on Seated Meditation, Mindful Movement, the Body Scan and a 3-Minute Breathing Space. As well as these formal techniques, participants are encouraged to practice informally and are given suggestions to help integrate an attitude of ‘mindfulness’ into daily life.
Getting the most out of the course requires a certain amount of discipline. Keeping an attitude of gentleness, self-acceptance and self-care which participants are encouraged to cultivate and reminding ourselves that we are doing this to nourish and support our own health and well-being.
WHO IS THE COURSE FOR?
The course is suitable for everybody. We all experience difficulty in our lives and Mindfulness teaches us valuable skills for handling and managing difficult times. However, if you have recently experienced a significant upheaval such as bereavement, family breakup or diagnosis of a serious illness, it may be advisable to wait until you have regained a certain amount of stability…. at times of crisis you may need more focused and individual support; also, because the course itself makes considerable demands on time and energy, you are in a better position to give it your best shot during ‘normal’ times.
If you like the sound of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and think it might be a good time for you to embark upon this journey – that’s wonderful! Please complete the enclosed Application Form and return to me via email or post at your earliest convenience. Once I have received your application, I will contact you by phone to confirm your place and talk through the course in more detail.
NEXT AVAILABLE START DATE : Wednesday January 2020
Fee: €230 (€250 if paid in instalments)
This includes 8 evening sessions, a one-day retreat, workbook and 3 audios
(Every effort is being made to keep the course affordable even if similar fees range from €300 to €400)