How Mindfulness Helps
Many scientific studies have shown that mindfulness and the MBSR programme help you to be more emotionally aware, more attentive and more fully engaged.
People come to our 8-week courses to work with a range of issues. Some people want to live more fully, others are working with stress or another condition. The right time to take a course is when you are well enough to take on a new approach. We also offer 1:1 sessions with Vishvapani
Stress can mean many things: what you feel when you are in a busy job having to make important decisions quickly; a low-level tension that you carry round with you all the time; or an overwhelming sense that it’s all too much. Stress is a sign that we need to reduce the demands on us or change the way we respond. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) can help us find peace of mind in the midst of the demands of our life, and become more resilient.
In the course of our lives all of us have had to learn ways of coping. Everyone encounters challenges and struggles and we may also have had especially difficult experiences of our own. Some of these ways of coping are helpful, and some aren’t. The thoughts and actions connected with PTSD, OCD and anxiety are coping strategies that actually cause us more suffering.The mindfulness skills we learn on an MBSR course help give us more space in our experience: space between distressing feelings, the thoughts that go with them and the actions they prompt. The key is learning to turn towards our experience, whatever it is, rather than recoiling from difficulties.
Mindfulness can help if you’re experiencing depression now or have done so in the past and want to avoid relapsing. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is adapted to help you work with depression and we teach a version of this.
Physiology plays a part in depression, but psychologists have learned that the way we think is another key element, and it’s something you can influence for yourself. When we’re depressed or heading into depression, we are strongly drawn towards ‘problem-solving’ thoughts.
It feels important to keep turning our difficulties over in our mind (ruminating) so we’ll eventually get to the bottom of them and solve the problem. But these thoughts actually reinforce negative feelings and attitudes, prompting more thinking and drawing us deeper into depression.
The key is learning to direct our attention, let go of unhelpful thoughts and access more helpful states of mind. These are skills we can all learn, which is why the course starts with learning several mindfulness practices. The main ones are the Body Scan (developing awareness of the body), the Mindfulness of Breathing meditation (focusing on the breath and exploring experience), and mindful movement (gentle stretching or movement).
Mindfulness and Chronic Pain and Illness
Pain and Illness are among the most challenging experiences we can have. They’re unpleasant and can be extremely challenging. Mindfulness shows how we can make a difference to our experience. Mindfulness practices can help us see how we pile extra layers on top of pain, chronic illness and other physical difficulties and how to let go of them.
Most approaches to sleep problems involve drugs and various techniques, but sleep is a natural process. The danger in trying really hard to get to sleep, is that you make it less likely to happen. And if you depend on techniques sleep can become less and less natural – something that comes of its own accord without trying. Mindfulness opens up a different approach that focuses on acceptance and letting go.