The eight-week course could be considered as a “boot camp” for people who are hoping to cultivate and maintain the mindfulness perspective. Over the duration of 8 weeks there is a growing sense of solidarity and mutual support amongst the group of fellow travellers. We will all know that it can be a struggle to learn ‘good habits’ – it’s only human to shy away from the challenges of maintaining our best intentions and in the weekly debriefs we quickly learn " it’s not just us!" We learn from each other, from the course materials and – essentially – from our experiences, between the weekly meetings, of attempting to establish a daily practice and the sharing of those leaning experiences.
In 2004, 20 years after diving deep into my own personal mindfulness practice via the Buddhist tradition, I began teaching the MBSR course from the Ruby Centre in Felixstowe. Offering 3 courses per year, I began to incorporate the newly emerging MBCT variant of the course and I now offer a hybrid of these two courses. They are considered the ‘gold standard’ approach to mindfulness training – it was outcome data from these courses that led to a so-called mindfulness revolution. Mindfulness has recently been promoted out from the new age, esoteric, hippy closet, via the scientifically VALIDATED route, to “MacMindfulness” for everything! A new, sellable, self-help method – new packaging, new marketing, new experts.
Both extremes are potentially off-putting. But it is reassuring to hear from the research on the original training groups that most people completing eight-week mindfulness courses report that they gain lasting benefits, such as:
- more energy and enthusiasm
- a greater capacity for relaxation
- enhanced self-confidence
- an increased ability to handle stressful situations
- more focus
- greater sensitivity to others
The original MBSR was developed to assist people with chronic conditions such as pain, stress and anxiety. MBCT subsequently integrated a cognitive therapy component to adapt the approach for the benefit of people who have suffered recurring bouts of depression.
Speaking to those client groups I have described the course in this way:
Relapse prevention for depression & tools for stress, pain & anxiety management
- Having suffered depressive episodes in the past, are you currently not depressed but wanting to stay clear of future episodes?
- Are you stressed – or suffering with chronic anxiety or pain?
- Are you looking for a self-help alternative (or complement) to medication?
If so, MBCT/MBSR may be what you are looking for. It’s an 8 week group-work treatment (Approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, NICE, 2003) that integrates a CBT perspective within a mindfulness based training program. You will learn, practice & take away, mind & body techniques which can:
- Function as an early warning system for detecting depressive/stress symptoms
- Have a preventative function
- Have a reparative function
- Have a life-enhancing function
You may also benefit from the company and support of other group members who may have experienced the disabling effects of depression / stress / anxiety / pain.
And speaking to a broader audience here’s how I describe the MBSR/MBCT hybrid:
Treating the “Human Condition” – practicing mental hygiene!
You don’t need to identify with labels such as: stress, anxiety, depression, etc. in order to qualify for a place, on this course!
Just as we don’t wait – before beginning to clean our teeth – for signs that we have developed specific ‘dental health’ conditions, using this course to learn and develop a daily mindfulness practice can function as a ‘mental health workout’ – or a daily mental hygiene strategy – serving to protect us from mental decay.
An 8 week mindfulness course can be extremely useful for people who don’t fit into such specific ill-health conditions. The course has a much broader reach in that it generally addresses the challenges of the human condition; mindfulness practice will improve the quality of life, relationships and overall well-being: mind, body, soul and spirit.
And – if the two & half thousand years of unbroken Buddhist lineage of teaching and immersion in daily practices is not sufficiently convincing – then remember that science has now caught up with the means to empirically test the outcomes of such ‘treatments’ and findings from neuropsychological research are beginning to flood the learned journals with explanations of how regular mindfulness practice actually works on the ‘plasticity’ of brain structures to ‘re-wire’ our neural pathways to our lifelong advantage.
It’s a great investment in ourselves and one from which people we live and work alongside will also benefit!
Continuous Professional Development, CPD, for mental health & well-being professionals:
As well as offering much needed rest & recuperation, R&R, for frontline professionals; this course offers a recognised ‘first step’ into further training in this exciting, refreshing new treatment paradigm.
CPD certificates will be issued on request to those who may find them useful for future training needs & for recognition of ongoing ‘Continuous Professional Development’ requirements.
So who wouldn’t benefit?
Research, and my experience as a teacher, suggests that this course is not suitable for people who are currently in the midst of a depressive episode. The course demands a level of commitment that may temporarily be beyond the reach of a depressed person. Similarly, it would not be recommended if you are troubled by traumatic events from the past to the extent that you may often – when triggered – lose touch with your present time experience. In both cases – though this approach may have much to offer you – it would need to be individually shaped to your specific requirements in a way that is beyond the remit of the mixed training group. It’s for those reasons that I like to have a telephone chat, individually, with anyone who is interested before they book a place so that I can advise on whether or not they might choose to commit at this time, in their given current personal circumstances. You can book a telephone appointment slot with me at a time to suit us both?