Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction & Mindfulness Based Compassionate Living

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

The eight-week course is based on the widely researched international curriculum that represents the gold standard in mindfulness training for stress reduction. Based on the pioneering work of Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the training involves eight two and a half hour sessions as well as a full day workshop. Participants are given a manual with extensive notes as well as audio files of the meditations that can be listened to each day at home. Each session involves a gentle mixture of mindfulness meditation practice, short presentations on the theme for that week by the facilitator as well as some group exercises and discussion. In each session the facilitator endeavors to create a warm and supportive environment where participants can explore their experience without pressure and without judgments.

A key insight in mindfulness is that we create suffering for ourselves when we resist how things are in any given moment. If things are going well for us, we don’t want them to change. We might be really enjoying the weekend and when Sunday night comes along and we start to think about work on Monday morning there may be a real sense of wanting to hold on to what is pleasant now. In contrast, when things are not going well such as being stuck in traffic or we are preoccupied by money worries the tendency is to wish things to be different and reject our present moment experience.

In both of these situations Mindfulness invites us to really notice our reactions and allow things to be as they are just for now without judgements. When we drop the judgements about how things should be, we begin to make friends with our experience and with ourselves.

While mindfulness does not claim to be a cure for anything, a growing amount of research indicates its effectiveness in:

  • Getting a better night’s sleep
  • Reducing worry and feelings of anxiety
  • Improving tolerance of chronic pain
  • Lifting mood and appreciating what is good in life
  • Managing interpersonal conflict more effectively
  • Enhancing feelings of self-worth and compassion for others

To find out more about the scientific research supporting the effectiveness of MBSR/MBCT please go to these websites:

At the end of the course participants come away with a set of tools that allow them to take better care of themselves in the ups and downs of everyday living. The effectiveness of the MBSR course crucially depends on the participant’s willingness to commit to daily practice while the course is underway (about 45 minutes but supported by the guided audio files). It is worth remembering that Mindfulness is not intended as a magic pill but can be a significantly transformative approach for many people, as they use it to surf the waves that life inevitably presents us with.

Mindfulness Based Compassionate Living (MBCL)

This course is designed as a follow-on course for those who have already completed an 8-week MBSR, MBCT, .b Foundations or similar course. It allows participants an opportunity to deepen their mindfulness skills through focused compassion training that promotes a healthier and happier life and more fulfilling relationships. Designed for a general audience, it may also be of particular benefit for anyone who finds it hard to be kind themselves or who is living with a chronic pain condition whether physical or emotional. This MBCL course is a radical training in learning to be more compassionate towards ourselves and others. It explores the inner and outer science of compassion in an accessible way and introduces participants to a range of new practices that promote a sense of ‘heartfulness’ in relation to all of life’s experiences.

Here are the themes for each week of the course:

Wk 1: Wired to survive rather than thrive: How we evolved – threat, drive and soothing systems

Wk 2: Embracing inner demons: threat and self-compassion

Wk 3: Treating habits kindly: untangling desires and patterns

Wk 4: Out of the mud and into the light: embodying compassion

Wk 5: Receiving and giving with every breath: self and others – widening the circle

Wk 6: Making friends for life: growing happiness

Wk 7: Heartful mind, mindful heart: weaving wisdom and compassion into daily life

Wk 8: Healing life: living with heart

Key Features of the course:

  • A welcoming and supportive learning environment
  • 8 two and a half hour weekly sessions
  • A mostly silent weekend half day to deepen practice after week 6
  • Participants are each given a copy of Erik van den Brink and Frits Koster’s (designers of the course) published manual A Practical Guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living.
  • Participants are asked to spend between 45 minutes to an hour doing home practice each day.
  • Opportunities for participants to receive and give support in maintaining a regular mindfulness and compassion practice.
  • Downloadable audio guided practices recorded by your teacher
  • Each session includes a coffee break

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