I thought it would be useful to note here, what doing a mindfulness-based course gave me, as a testimonial for anyone considering attending one themselves.
About the course
I attended an 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course run by my local mindfulness centre. It consisted of eight evening classes and a “silent retreat” on a Sunday.
Each evening session was two and half hours and consisted of learning about the mind and meditation practice.
The silent retreat was held in the same venue as the class (a hotel). It started at 10am and finished at 4pm. It was eye opening to see how still your mind becomes after meditating and being silent for that long. It truly was a retreat, as when I returned to everyday life that evening, it was like breaking a spell.
I attended each week and did home practice nearly every day. I logged my weekly findings and reproduce them here for your interest.
Session 1 establishing a formal practice
Session 2 moving the attention spotlight
Session 3 being with the steering wheel
Session 4 ticking the box
Session 5 dialling down emotions
Session 6 embracing imperfection
Session 7 commitment
5 things I got from a mindfulness course
1. a regular practice
I don't think I would have established a formal daily mindfulness practice if I hadn't been taught how to meditate in person nor committed to attending a course.
I would have had a go but I wouldn't have been as disciplined as I have become. I am a mindfulness disciple. I intend to formally practice daily in some form or another.
2. a method for dialing down emotional responses
Until I encountered mindfulness, I was unaware that we can take ourselves mindfully away from a situation and dial down an emotion.
By consciously checking in with myself during a really tense moment, turning my attention from my chattering mind to my breath whilst gazing at the horizon, I regained self composure and diffused something that might have really got to me (and ruined an afternoon or weekend).
3. a means to stop thoughts from getting out of control
Labelling, what a simple idea. When we label a thought (planning, mind wandering), we become the thinker and the thought is stopped in its tracks.
I am blown away every time I do this.
4. all you need to do is focus on your breath or body
No yoga mat, no outfit, no awkward posture, no thing at all.
Just your breath and you can sail into the present. What a gift! For me 30 focused breaths and I am in the here and now.
5. an addiction to mindfulness
I signed up for the class as an experiment, I truly had no expectations.
What I have taken away from 8 meetings and 50 days of formal and informal mindful practice has changed my life.
I feel truly gifted to have discovered this simple yet effective technique.