WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness is not about relaxation. It stems from the Buddhist tradition and has been secularised in 1979 by the founder of the 8 Week Mindfulness Stress Reduction (MBSR) Course, Jon Kabat-Zinn. Another word for mindfulness is heartfulness. To quote Kabat-Zinn: "Mindfulness is paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment". We learn not to judge even our judgements and accept rather than endorsing all that is unacceptable.
With practice, we are able to move from:
- the default button to the pause button;
- the need to change and cure to a place of caring and compassion;
- automatic reaction to skilful responding.
A caveat: the practice could release hidden traumas and it is vital you are taught grounding techniques before we go further.
WHAT IS THE 8 WEEK MINDFULNESS COURSE?
The 8 Week MBSR course is based on three decades of scientific research. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is adapted from the MBSR Course by Mark Williams, John Teasdale and Zindel Segal and has also been well researched. It is a recommended treatment by the NHS (National Health Service) for patients suffering from recurrent episodes of depression.
The 8 week Mindfulness MBSR and MBCT Course:
- has trained the public as well as psychiatrists, psychotherapists, counsellors and life coaches;
- is highly practical in cultivating awareness, which leads to emotional and physical health benefits;
- includes a teaching booklet and three guided meditation audio tracks: Body Scan; Yoga Meditation; Sitting Meditation.
WHAT ARE MY CREDENTIALS AND EXPERIENCE?
I started practising meditation in the Siddha Yoga tradition since 1992 before embarking on the mindfulness meditation route via training with several Mindfulness teachers and later at Bangor University, Centre for Mindfulness the origin and seat of MBSR and MBCT Training in the UK.
I meditate twice a day (a Christian meditation in the morning and a Mindfulness one before bed) and resolve to live mindfully with loving-kindness, as best as I can. I regularly listen to meditation podcasts, my favourite teacher being Tara Brach. I teach clients from my own practice and experience.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
A reduction in pain and an enhanced ability to cope with pain
An ability to respond more effectively with both short and long-term stressful situations
An increased ability to relax
An increase awareness and acceptance of whatever life has to throw at us
Greater energy and enthusiasm for life
People participate for reasons as diverse as:
Stress - personal and professional
Chronic pain and illness
Anxiety and panic
High blood pressure
WHAT IS MY FEE?
£480* or 8 x 1 hour sessions (for individuals)
£400* (x2) for 8 x 1 hour 30 min. sessions (for each individual in a couple session)
with Mindfulness Meditation Downloads, Mindfulness Booklet, Mindfulness Resources
* 50% paid on the first week, 50% on the fourth week; Non-refundable
When I started the 8 week course I felt my life was in chaos - I had just lost my job and I was moving out of my long term flat. The course required finding a little time each day for me to be calm and still and with the help of guidance tapes as necessary, to go through a routine of concentrating on my breathing. Simple really! I had never practised any form of meditation before so of course my mind constantly drifted away from the focus of my breath and my body.
The beauty of mindfulness however is there is no correct way of doing it; there is no success or failure. All that is required is to be aware and present and each time thoughts appear simply recognise them, welcome them and then let them go. Practising mindfulness on a daily basis is the key. My feelings of anger and frustration have not gone away but I now feel I have a technique to help me deal with them and in time I hope I will retrain my natural fight response to difficult situations to a more measured, less confrontational and less damaging response. Thank you Joyce!
Dr. Jennifer Fallon, scientist
Sally M, nutritionist
The course was well structured and insightful. Joyce practised the mindfulness practices in the sessions and each week supplied a home work task. The practices were varied and each aimed to develop an awareness of the present moment, these included; focused breathing, mindful eating, full body scan meditation, mindful yoga and sitting meditation. Through this practice my mind has become clearer and more able to choose thoughts skilfully rather than my mind completely taking control of me. At the end of the course I believe I have learnt the skills to start to take ownership of my Self.
Joyce held my emotions and feelings and respected what I brought to each of the sessions. I felt encouragement, understanding and humour, most importantly she challenged me. My goal was to become exactly who I am and not live for other people. She stayed true to my vision; I was overwhelmed by her belief and acceptance even when I wanted to give up.
I'd like to share a few reflections of my experience of Joyce: I saw her as an anchor, made with endurable strength; I felt her as a hand holding mine guiding and being present with all my darkness and daemons; I felt an energy of warmth and love whenever I saw her; I heard her as a negotiator, an advocate for both darkness and light.
Thank you for showing me the way.
Debs Cottrell, youth worker
I found the 8 week Mindfulness course to be very well structured and the homework each week really helped. I really enjoyed the information Joyce gave on mindfulness and how it came about and the people involved in its development. I now meditate regularly and have even given a copy of the Body Scan CD to a friend for her to benefit from as well.
Beth Campion, musician
The teacher/vehicle is important. Though I have been married for 16 years to someone who devoutly practises Insight Meditation all this while and surrounded by his many books, the message never really got to me. The "light", exploratory, pragmatic, peer-based (respectful) counselling/teaching approach adopted by Joyce works especially well for someone like me who rebels against institutionalized approaches with a passion. I also believe that it is a matter of "ripe" timing that has brought together the teaching, guide/Joyce and my increasing need for a way of life that can include all aspects of me, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Moh Sin, officer with the United Nations regional development secretariat
Flora MaClay, counselling psychologist
Mindfulness is a simple and practical tool accessible to anyone - there is no philosophy to study, no right or wrong way to do it. The course is well paced and structured so that you can begin to integrate Mindfulness into your daily life right from the beginning. As the weeks progressed my perspective changed and I felt as if for the first time in my life I was waking up to who I truly am, in a loving and accepting way.
From that has flowed courage, self-esteem, clarity of mind, less stress and anxiety, less anger, self-acceptance, self-love, letting go of a destructive relationship, an improved relationship with my parents, taking control of my life and making some bold decisions, trusting my intuition, acknowledging my worth and more moments of contentment and peace with things as they are .... This may seem like an exaggerated list but it really isn't. These are not all fully fledged trees, but they are seeds of potential I didn't acknowledge or know before, which through practicing Mindfulness, are beginning to blossom - I feel blessed.
The changes in me have been so noticeable that family members have gone on to do the course too. It has been the best investment I have made in myself. I cannot recommend it enough.
Aafke, management accountant
Yvette Nieslony, IT project manger
My ability to recognise and handle my own stress improved vastly. Joyce patiently guided me through and helped me recognise old and stubborn patterns, and helped me find the skills and tools to change them. Her warmth and laughter are a joy, and I can safely say that my new mindful way of life has improved the quality of my life. I’ve successfully beaten my emotional eating habit, can manage pain through meditation and can’t stop telling everyone about it!
Shahnaz Chatterjee, trainer
*Some names are changed to protect the identity of my students.