This course will explore various approaches to pain and/or stress-management through mindfulness-meditation, with guided meditation-relaxation practices, and gentle movement (based on yoga, T’ai Chi and Qigong). We also look at pacing in daily life, and will cover how to keep an activity diary.
This course is suitable for (almost) anyone suffering from stress or poor health, and will teach methods of ‘coming home’ more fully to our present experience, and in so doing may also help to inhabit our bodies more fully. The mindfulness-meditations presented may also help to observe and perhaps quieten the often restless mental activity (anxiety and stress) that at times we can all suffer from, when we are not able to ‘switch off’ from our ongoing ‘internal dialogue’ (over-active thinking).
What will I learn?
- Learn to have some understanding of how to “inhabit” the body more fully – rather than living in the noisy ’internal dialogue’ of constant thinking.
- Learn to be more aware of breathing, how and where the breath comes from in the body.
- Learn to have some understanding of how poor breathing (not paying attention to how we breathe) can be associated with tension and stress.
- Learn how to use gentle exercise to work with pain and disability.
- Learn to regulate our daily activity, by keeping a pacing diary, and how this impacts on well-being.
- Learn to have some understanding of how we might develop more positive emotions including kindness to oneself and others.
- Learn methods to help us live in the ‘present moment’ rather than in the past or future (take time to ‘smell the flowers’).
- Learn to develop more appreciation of poetry, beauty and aesthetics – and how this can create more positive mental/emotional states, and help us to be more connected in our present experience.
What do I need to know before I start the course?
Each class will be two hours long. There will be a tea break and plenty of informal time to relax and chat during the sessions.
This course is suitable for (almost) everyone. There are no pre-course requirements. However, this course will probably not be suitable for those with significant ‘learning disabilities’, or for those with significant mental health issues (although depression and anxiety are okay).
There is a suggested reading list (see below) if you would like to read more about Mindfulness and Health.
There is, however, one book that you will need to get for the course, and preferably read beforehand. This is ‘Mindfulness for Health’ by Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman, ISBN: 9780749959241 (winner of the British Medical Association book awards 2014 – popular medicine). You will need to buy this book before the course starts. This is available online eg Fishpond etc for around $35 – $40 (cheaper if secondhand), but will take at least 1 week to arrive. Your local library may have a copy.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction and Mindfulness-based pain-management can also be very helpful for those living with pain and illness, and people can attend this course with any health issue. The gentle exercises are simple and safe, and suitable for those who may not have good levels of fitness.
Mindfulness approaches, have also been used, to help prevent relapse into substance use (e.g. alcohol) and addiction – but this may not be suitable for those currently in withdrawal. ‘Mindfulness’ has also been used (e.g. mindfulness based cognitive behavioural therapy) for helping to prevent relapse into depression, but again this course will not be suitable for those currently depressed.
The focus of this course is on group work, discussion and self-help strategies. The Mindfulness material and Mindfulness based pain and stress management methods presented on this course are for personal development, self-management, self-empowerment and self-directed learning.
To gain benefit from the course, it is essential to engage with the materials outside of the class, and there will be homework set each week, for about 30 minutes per day for guided meditations, breath awareness and Mindfulness practice.
This short 4 week course can serve as an Introduction to Mindfulness for health, for anyone who wishes to learn mindfulness. This course could also serve as a practice/refresher course, for anyone who has attended another course, and wishes to deepen and further refine their mindfulness practice.