Mindfulness, It's the latest buzzword, right?

Do you know what it actually is though?

Or how it may help you live your life in a more helpful, happier and engaged way?

I've been practising Mindfulness for ten years now and am in my final year of a four year Masters degree in Mindfulness at Bangor University (the first in the world to offer such a degree 20 years ago and internationally recognised as the highest quality of training).

I am DELIGHTED to now be able to offer live, online Mindfulness courses for beginners and those developing their practice.

mindfulness_poster_UK

For Beginners : Finding Peace in a Frantic World

What will you learn?

Finding Peace In A Frantic World (FPFW) is an eight week introductory skills-based course, with an initial orientation session.

The course consists of eight 90 minute sessions and includes 20 minutes of home practice per day between sessions. Through guided meditations, group dialogue, individually tailored instructions and home assignments, you will learn the essential principles of mindfulness and techniques to build your personal home practice and access the wide-ranging benefits well beyond the course.

It cultivates the following understandings:

Mindfulness starts when we recognise the tendency to be on automatic pilot, which can rob us of our potential for living life more fully. We begin to practice stepping out of automatic pilot by bringing mindfulness to aspects of everyday present-moment experience that we might normally overlook.

With greater awareness, we begin to notice how often we are lost in our thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness of the body and breathing helps us learn to recognise our thoughts, emotions, sensations, and impulses, gather the scattered mind, and return with appreciation to the here and now.

We learn that when our attention is caught up in the past or the future, we can get trapped in unhelpful patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting. Mindfulness helps us recognise these automatic reactions, understand them as normal human experiences, and bring kindness and compassion to them.

As we cultivate attitudes of interest and friendliness toward all of our experiences, whether pleasant or unpleasant, we learn skills for keeping our balance through life’s ups and downs, responding skilfully when difficulties arise, engaging with what is most important to us, and opening up to moments of joy, contentment, and gratitude. We learn to flourish.

What happens during a session?

Sessions follow a consistent pattern.

After greetings and getting settled, we begin with a guided meditation practice, followed by reflection on the experiences of the practice. Then we discuss the experiences of the home practices during the week.

Each session has a theme that is woven into the discussions. We often do another practice or a cognitive exercise and reflect on what can be learned from that.

Near the end of each session, we explain the home practices for the following week.

Whether online or in person, it’s best to arrive a bit early for each session. This helps to ensure a prompt start.

What does home practice involve?

I will provide recordings for the main practices and ask you to practice every day.

You may need to reorganise aspects of your life to fit this in. It might be helpful to talk with family or friends about what is involved.

If you find this difficult, experiment with practising at different times of the day, and remember to keep an open mind as best you can.

You may notice that your experience changes from day to day or week to week.

I will be available to discuss any difficulties you are having with home practice.

What are the challenges?

✡︎ At first, practising meditation may feel strange or unfamiliar. As best you can, keep an open mind.

✡︎ It is not obvious at the outset which practices will be most helpful and you may not see benefits immediately. Practise gentle persistence, and remember that people respond differently.

✡︎ The amount of practice can feel daunting. However, consistent practice may increase the likelihood of benefitting from the course.

 

 

✡︎ Some people feel apprehensive about being in a group. However, learning from others and seeing that you are not alone can be hugely beneficial.

✡︎ You may face emotional issues that you would prefer to avoid. Difficulties that arise can be informative and the course will teach you skilful ways of responding to them.

✡︎ You may find yourself wanting to give up at times. This is common. Please speak to me about any issues that are making things difficult for you.

Course details

The course cost includes one hour's orientation session and eight 90 minute sessions, all audio recordings and a course journal sent to support your home practice.

It is essential that you source a copy of the book "Mindfulness: a practical guide to Finding Peace In A Frantic World" by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, to support you on the course.

It is available from any of your favoured bookstores eg: amazon and Abe Books

It's also available as an audio book on Audible if you prefer. Please note however that this is a shorter version of the printed book.

Also available is the Mindfulness App which includes the home practice recordings. It's available for both Android and iPhones.

The course handbook I have created to support your home practice is gorgeous, colourful, packed with tips and space for personal reflection.

It can be sent to you as a pdf for you to print at home or use digitally or I can send you a professionally printed (all recycled materials) handbook. These cost me £10 to print and post and I request a £5 contribution which I will put towards planting trees in the Berry & Bloom Forest in partnership with Treesisters.

Book Mindfulness course

Autumn Course Dates

There is an hours orientation session a couple of weeks before the course begins so we can set up the online experience. This is an important part of the course so please include it in your scheduling.

Orientation session Monday October 10th

One hour session: 7.30pm - 8.30pm

Course runs Mondays October 24th - December 12th.

90 minute sessions: 7.30pm - 9pm

Winter Course Dates

There is an hours orientation session a couple of weeks before the course begins so we can set up the online experience. This is an important part of the course so please include it in your scheduling.

Orientation session Monday January 23rd

One hour session: 7.30pm - 8.30pm

Course runs Mondays February 6th - March 27th

90 minute sessions: 7.30pm - 9pm

Investment

I strongly feel this course should be accessible to all who are interested and do not want finances to prevent this.

Throughout the pandemic I offered a sliding scale of course rates to, hopefully, accommodate all and continue to do so.

If you’re able to pay the standard rate it helps me continue to offer support to those less able to and if that’s you I’m happy to help. Please pay what you can and rest assured that the course offering remains the same whichever rate you pay.

£220 - standard course fee | £160 - reduced rate | £100 subsidised rate

Indulge in the journey, if you are anything like me, you need the space to reflect and learn about yourself. It might throw up some surprises. Go into it with an open mind, be curious as to how you might benefit. 

I loved feeling the sense of support and community from the group and it was SO helpful to know that it wasn't just me who was struggling with an overactive mind and a regular practice.  

I really liked the virtual version - it was nice to be able to do it in the comfort of home and as I was balancing life with Sophie it was helpful that I didn't have to think about logistics of getting somewhere.  I found your emails really helpful and helped to keep me focussed.

I would really recommend this course, especially if you want to connect to mindfulness in a more embodied way. The meetings were like an anchor, a weekly reminder of the depth of this practice. And because the atmosphere is welcoming and actively non-judgemental, they gently motivated me every time to go away and try again. I miss them!
I appreciated the structure and framework, and the gradual approach with the different exercises which in the end came together and made a lot of sense for me.

It has been a very interesting time to do this course - trying to find freedom in myself at a time when our freedoms have been more curtailed than we’ve ever known.

It's empowering to see how even in the most challenging of times, we have the ability to find space. It's the daily moments here and there that I have really come to value. 

Even though I'd done various mindfulness courses in the past, until I did the Finding Peace course with you it wasn't something I really felt was 'for me' or that I could make part of my daily routine, and this course really transformed that. 

Ongoing support

Following the eight week course together I offer a monthly drop in session for all who have done the Finding Peace course with me. This is an opportunity to share and explore experiences and challenges, catch up with class mates and for us to practice together.

These monthly sessions are free of charge and take place on the last Sunday evening of every month, 8pm.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I just read the book and follow the CD myself rather than joining a course?

A: Of course, this is entirely down to your own preference. People can get a huge amount of value from simply following the programme in the book by themselves.

Others may find that they develop a much richer and practical understanding of mindfulness by committing themselves to a structured process of learning that supports them from the beginning of the course to the end – and beyond.

Consider the following aspects of learning in a teacher-led group environment and whether these would help you to maximise the value of the course:

✡︎ Guidance from a trained instructor who is experienced in coaching beginners, ensuring correct technique and able to answer any burning questions you may have, helping you set firm foundations in your practice and supporting you through any challenges you experience along the way.

✡︎ Motivation and sustained momentum – Attending weekly sessions helps to sustain your focus on the programme and stick to it.

✡︎ A formal commitment – Making the most of a mindfulness course is all about making a commitment to yourself to follow the process through from start to finish. For many of us this commitment to be disciplined and stick to it comes a lot easier when we have a formal arrangement to attend a group every week.

  • Learning with and from other people – One thing that surprises most people who attend a course is how powerful it is to learn mindfulness alongside other people. Hearing others speak of the stress arising from common problems (busy and uncontrolled thoughts, the strain of personal or professional commitments, the demands of a world requiring us to be constantly switched-on) helps us recognise the common burdens of human existence and pressures we all share. This can lighten the sense of being alone and alienated in the problems we face and help us shift toward a healthier perspective in which we can learn, even laugh, and let go of certain things. The mutual support of a group environment can be more inspiring and influential to your learning than ‘going it alone’.
  • Are you prone to ‘shelf-help’? – Many of us are guilty of starting an exciting new personal development plan and, with the very best of intentions, find our motivation soon fizzles. That self-help book ends up back on the shelf and the opportunity is put on hold. Motivation to begin is essential - but - consistency and commitment is critical to making meaningful change. We have to be honest with ourselves and ask ‘what are the best conditions for me to make progress?’ Often having the support and structure of a course removes obstacles and frees you up to direct your energy into learning and moving forward.

Q: How is the ‘Finding Peace in a Frantic World' course different from MBSR or MBCT courses?

In a nutshell - time commitment

The Finding Peace in a Frantic World Course contains shorter weekly sessions (90 mins) than MBCT/MBSR (2-2.5 hours) and shorter daily home practices (about 20 mins per day, 6 days a week - compared to 45 mins per day, 6 days a week).

Many people interested in learning mindfulness find the Finding Peace In A Frantic World (FPFW) option a more realistic prospect.

There are many overlaps with MBCT and MBSR but there are important distinctions too. Whereas the MBCT course is aimed at supporting people with depression in more clinical settings, the FPFW course is focused on providing simple, effective and powerful support for managing more day-to-day anxiety, stress and mental and physical exhaustion. That is not to say that most people would not find benefit from the MBCT course or that individuals with clinical depression would not find value in the FPFW course – rather, they have each been designed with distinct purposes and groups in mind.

 

For Developers : Diving Deeper into Mindfulness

Once you’ve gone through an 8 week programme like Finding Peace,  MBSR or MBCT you will have an idea of the benefits practising mindfulness can bring to your life.  

The 8 week course is just the beginning… To continue to cultivate mindfulness requires much more than mechanically following a set of instructions. It requires bringing your whole being to the process and opening to an entirely new way of learning and being in your life.

The attitude that we bring to the practice of mindfulness will, to a large extent, determine its long-term value to us. This is why consciously cultivating certain attitudes can be very helpful in getting the most out of the process of meditation. They remind you from moment to moment of why you are practicing in the first place. Keeping particular attitudes in mind is actually part of the training itself.

Diving Deeper into Mindfulness is an 8 session course designed for those who want to refresh, enliven and deepen their mindfulness practice.

In what many consider to be the bible of Mindfulness, Full Catastrophe Living (1990), Jon Kabat-Zinn outlines seven specific attitudes that form a foundation for mindfulness. They apply directly, moment by moment and day by day, as you cultivate and deepen mindfulness. 

These attitudes are non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance and letting go. He has since added gratitude and generosity .

This course is spaced out with monthly sessions over the autumn and winter offering us plenty of time to connect with and integrate our practice. In each session we will explore one of the foundational attitudes, discuss how we can bring it to life and practice a specifically related meditation.

The attitudes support each other and are deeply interconnected, practicing one will lead to the others. As such the invitation is to attend each of the 8 sessions for greatest benefit. Emails and audio recordings will follow each session to support your home practice.

We will meet on Thursday evenings,

September 8th

October 6th

November 3rd

December 1st

January 5th

February 2nd

March 2nd

March 30th

7.30pm-9pm

Throughout the course and within the meditation practices you will revisit these attitudes many times, and will come to understand what vital supports they truly are.

I will set up a WhatsApp group for those happy to join so we can share reflections and support each other in between the monthly get togethers.

Investment

I strongly feel this course should be accessible to all who are interested and do not want finances to prevent this.

After careful consideration I am continuing to offer a sliding scale of course rates to, hopefully, accommodate all.

If you’re able to pay the standard rate it helps me continue to offer support to those less able to and if that’s you I’m happy to help. Please pay what you can and rest assured that the course offering remains the same whichever rate you pay.

£220 - standard course fee | £160 - reduced rate | £100 subsidised rate

Diving Deeper Into Mindfulness

Thank you for putting so much thought and love into the course. I've really enjoyed the sessions and exploring mindfulness further. I will really miss the sessions and wanted to thank you for continuing to run the monthly drop-ins as I definitely feel like I need that sense of community to help me continue my practice.

It's been so interesting to practice mindfulness in a different way and the attitudes have helped me through really big moments in life over the last few weeks.