Frequently Asked Questions
What's the difference between Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)?
Both courses are recommended for supporting general wellbeing and increasing clarity, calm and focus. In both cases we make slight adaptations to the course content to respond to the needs of individuals in the group. Much of the content of both courses is the same, however MBSR has a greater emphasis on reducing stress and includes more mindful movement. MBCT was developed from the MBSR course, to include additional tools for helping prevent relapse into anxiety, low mood and depression The course is suitable for general public, non-clinical, use, though is not recommended during a severe episode of depression.
Is mindfulness backed up by scientific research?
Yes, research shows that mindfulness practice can be beneficial in the following areas:
Enhance Brain Performance
Promote Creative Thinking
Decrease Likelihood of Depression
Minimise Chronic Pain
Lower Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke
Help Cancer Recovery
Relieve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
See this article from Psychology Today for more detail.
What is the expectation for Home Practice?
Over eight weeks we will be aiming to alter mental habits that may have been around for a while and will require time and effort to make satisfactory changes. To this end, we ask you to engage with home practice for half an hour to an hour for six days a week during the course where possible, for which guided audio recordings are provided. You will also be asked to try brief 'informal' exercises and to write up your responses. It is important to realise that the fruits of your efforts may not show straight away and we ask you to approach home practice with a spirit of patience and persistence. The commitment to spend time on home practice is an important part of the course if you wish to gain maximum benefits.
Are there any reasons for not doing an 8-week mindfulness course just now?
Mindfulness-based approaches to stress, anxiety or low mood are not always suitable for everyone. The points below are intended to offer you guidance on this but please feel free to discuss any particular issues raised by them with the tutor directly.
If you are experiencing strong current depression you may not be able to find the motivation to attend sessions and manage the home practice. In addition, our courses are not generally suitable for those with more severe or complex psychological conditions such as psychosis or borderline personality disorders. If in doubt, contact us.
Our courses are most helpful when you have no unusual added stresses in your life such as a new job, starting a family, moving house or undergoing an operation or other medical procedures. Making the time to practice mindfulness at home for eight weeks, though important for the course, is also an added demand on our time. It is important to be realistic about this and to consider any other sources of stress that may affect your ability to engage fully with the course.
Turning our attention inwards can be soothing and rewarding but at times, it can also be challenging; contacting aspects of ourselves that we may have avoided or pushed away may be difficult. If there has been a recent or unprocessed loss or trauma, for example, bereavement or divorce, it is advisable to discuss this with the tutor.
Also, a dependence on alcohol or recreational drugs may make the course too challenging or much less effective. If in doubt about this, please speak with the tutor.
Lastly, it is best if you can attend all 8 sessions. If you know in advance that you need to miss a session, it is sometimes possible to book a phone call with the course leader to go over the theme (in addition, you can use the course handbook to read up on the content of the missed session). If you know that you will need to miss more than one session, it may be best to wait for a more suitable time. Please discuss with the tutor if work commitments or holidays are likely to prevent attendance.
What is your training?
We are qualified to teach 8-week courses in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). All our Mindfulness courses follow the curriculum of one of these recognised courses, which will usually be stated on our publicity.
What can I expect from a mindfulness course?
The skills learnt on a mindfulness course can bring about a sense of calm and spaciousness, allowing us to become more effective in our daily lives and more open and understanding in our relationships. By recognising and letting go of negative thought patterns we can appreciate what is most important to us and enjoy life more fully.
On a mindfulness course you will be invited to become more aware of the present moment ‘just as it is’. Through this, you will develop awareness of bodily sensations, feelings and thoughts; learn to recognise patterns of thought that lead to stress; and to notice more positive aspects of our lives we might otherwise miss.
The course is essentially practical in approach, using short exercises and meditations, discussion and inquiry into experience.
Who may, or may not, attend our courses?
Our courses are suitable for anyone suffering from everyday stress, anxiety or low moods. They are designed to give you practical skills that can help you stay well and prevent future relapses. The courses may not be helpful if you are experiencing strong current depression (see next question below). We are meditation specialists, not medical professionals and cannot offer medical help, advice or therapy.
How will mindfulness help improve my future wellbeing?
During the weekly sessions, you will learn skills to help handle your thoughts and feelings differently and to build strategies to re-focus your mind in a more positive way. For example, increasing awareness of bodily sensations can help you spot the early signs of stress. You may then choose to use, for instance, a breathing exercise to ease the likelihood of a habitual negative response.
What if I experience difficulties during the course?
The classes and the home assignments can teach you to be more fully aware and present in each moment of life. This makes life more interesting, vivid and fulfilling. It also means being willing to face what is present, even when it is unpleasant. You will find that turning to face and acknowledge difficulties is the most effective way, in the long run, to reduce unhappiness and is central to preventing further experiences of low mood. In the classes you will learn gentle ways to face difficulties, and will be supported by the facilitators and other class members.
Should I do an 8-week course while having therapy?
You may find it helpful to embark on a mindfulness course at the same time as having counselling or therapy. The approaches are different but can be complementary. Although our courses have therapeutic benefits, the facilitators are meditation teachers and not therapists. You may wish to consult your therapist or counsellor. If in any doubt, we recommend that you talk it through with your GP.
Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living (MBCL) course
Annie and Nicky trained to teach MBCL with Frits Koster and Dr Erik van den Brink, the two inspirational men who designed the MBCL training program. If you would like to find out more about the MBCL course, see here.