Mindfulness

Mindfulness conjures up many different ideas depending on what we have read or experienced.  At its most basic level, mindfulness is about learning to live in the present, rather than ruminating on past events or worrying about the future.  Learning to live in the here and now is a very useful skill, it helps calm nerves and boosts appreciation of what life really is about, rather than perceived thoughts about goals, status, finances, health etc.  We can learn to appreciate each and every moment.  It's fine to plan for the future and to remember happy past events of course.

However mindfulness is much more than this.  It is also about being aware of our feelings and how they shape our thoughts, good or bad. Tuning into our feelings helps us to navigate through life, avoiding situations that are unhealthy or unsuitable for us, and guiding us to what gives us wellbeing and emotional health.  

Mindfulness is also about getting in touch with our physical health.  These days, more so than ever before, most of us live in our heads!  We are constantly thinking, planning, analysing and we forget to take good care of our posture and take note of the way we hold tension in our shoulders, jaw, stomach, chest etc.  Correct posture and breathing is key to feeling positive, but also reduces aches and pains.

So, learning to live in the here and now is healthy.  However, most mindfulness lessons don't go further than teaching techniques to keep us from thinking about the past or future in unhealthy ways.  This course is different!  As well as teaching lots of methods to become more mindful, Helena also gives valuable ideas for navigating through life with confidence, make good decisions, and also how to interact with other people such as work colleagues, family, friends without losing sight of what feels right for us.  In short: how to enjoy every day no matter what challenges we face now or what is around the corner.  

Oh No!  Does It Involve Meditation?  I'm Not Sure I Like Meditation!

Learning mindfulness techniques inevitably involves meditation.  Meditation does not involve trying to silence the mind and to think of nothing.  That really would be very difficult as our mind is always busy.  Meditation aims to slow down our  mental chatter and encourages our mind to focus on something positive and restful.  Some people can easily use their imagination to visualise a beautiful scene such as mountains, lakes, etc but other people find visualisation difficult and prefer a guided meditation to help them tune into sounds or feelings instead.  Helena introduces meditation techniques gently - the very first meditaiton takes just one minute.  By building up slowly, with a variety of meditation techniques, confidence and enjoyment in meditaiton is much more achievable.

Why is Meditaiton Important?

It has proven benefits, not only during the meditation itself, but afterwards too.  R Davidson and J Kabat-Zinn of the University of Massachusetss Medical School discovered that brain chemistry alters to enhance our positive beliefs in ourselves and life after only eight weeks of daily mindfulness practice.  More crucially, in experiments at the University, the mood enhancement far exceeded expectations for those who believed that low mood was part of their genetic makeup and personality, meaning that these factors are far less signficant than previously accepted and that good mood and happiness is achievable even for those thought to be genetically susceptible to low mood.

What is MBSR and MBCT?

MBSR is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and MBCT is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy.  MBSR was a therapy devised by J Kabat Zinn in the 1970's to help those in hospital with depression and other mental health disorders.  He was able to prove the benefits of mindfulness (based on Buddhist principles).  MBCT was formed from MBSR specifically to treat depression .