As mindfulness has grown to be a recognised skill relevant to modern life so too have the ways to learn it. Each has particular advantages but as with anything there are disadvantages too. To help you decide if learning with a mindfulness trainer is the right thing for you, this post shares seven benefits of doing an instructor-led course.
Let's start with a basic fact about mindfulness. Being mindful is a skill and like any skill it is not something you can do straightaway.
This is because mindfulness centres around purposefully paying attention i.e. choosing what you focus on. And to really "own your attention" you need to know how. That's where doing a course comes in.
Good mindfulness courses, like MBSR or MBCT (1,2) and those founded on such programmes, are specifically designed to develop your ability to be mindful by combining psycho-education, practical application with experiential insight. Over a set number of weeks you learn the what, where, why and how of mindful awareness, ways this can improve your well-being and exercises that train the attention.
You can do this on your own with a book, through an online course or download an app, as well as the more traditional method of learning with an experienced and qualified trainer.
Each way has particular advantages but as with anything there are disadvantages too. To help you decide if learning with a mindfulness trainer is the right thing for you, here are some benefits.
7 reasons to learn mindfulness with a trainer
1. You’ll stay the course
A trainer will deliver a mindfulness course over a fixed number of sessions, usually 6-8 weeks. This means – as long as you attend - the probability of you completing the learning in a timely manner is guaranteed.
2. You’ll look at all facets of mindfulness
Being mindful sounds simple but it is a combination of skills and principles. Unlike going it alone with an online course or book – where you can skip bits and jump about – an instructor-led course will mean each aspect and practice is covered and explored in detail giving you deep knowledge and understanding.
3. You'll dedicate time
Whilst it is easy to say we will do something, it is not always easy in practice. Committing to attending a weekly course for a set amount of time will mean you really will take time out of your day to learn and practice mindfulness.
4. You’ll be able to focus
Following on from the previous one, with the best of intentions we might sit down to read or login to an online course but it doesn’t take much to be distracted by something else. Attending a weekly course means you cannot do anything else during that time.
5. You’ll more likely to establish a regular practice
6-8 week mindfulness courses are generally designed to educate attendees in ways to be mindful in daily life, how the mind-body works, aspects of psychology and training the attention. Part of this training is done through "home practice" which you are encouraged to do each day. If you do this not only will you strengthen your ability to pay attention but you are also likely to establish a habit of regular daily practice that will support you going forward.
>>>I wrote about the advantages you gain from daily practice in my post 6 benefits of daily meditation
6. You’ll get practical advice and encouragement
When there’s a trainer involved you can ask questions about a point of practice or concept and get immediate answers. You might do this during class, during a break or at the end. When learning in a group setting your questions or comments are likely to be of value to other participants. You too may benefit from another's questions or experiences.
7. Your individual needs can be met
Experienced trainers can adapt and tailor material or responses to suit your needs. This might include providing additional material to help you understand something or adjust their teaching plan to accommodate feedback. I regularly provide additional slides or articles on particular subjects as follow up either between sessions or the following week.
Whilst it is likely that doing a course with a qualified mindfulness trainer is the most expensive option, there are distinct benefits that are not gained with alternatives.
>>>Get in touch to learn about the courses I run or to book a free introduction to mindfulness session
1. MBSR - Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
2. MBCT - Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy