Mindfulness is paying attention, deliberately and non-judgementally to each moment of your life. It is the latest “buzz-word’ yet at the centre of many ancient philosophies and spiritual traditions such as yoga and zen, which recognize that our minds run on “autopilot”, rarely coming into “manual control” to experience the moment we are in right now.
We are like passengers on a bus, travelling through an area of beautiful scenery, but with all the blinds pulled down, and instead listening to a running commentary telling us what its like “out there”. Worse still, the guide we are listening to is partially blind, and keeps telling us the same stories over and over! Yet we take what this guide says to be true, and run the risk of losing our entire lives to a group of deluded thoughts! An essential component of mindfulness training is learning to detach from these thoughts and emotions, particularly the negative ones.
As the Buddha put it: “you and your world are created by your thoughts. The wise person controls their thoughts”
So mindfulness is essentially about waking up, Inspired by some of the popular books, many people start to practice with great enthusiasm, only to abandon it in the first couple of weeks, put off by the extent of the “monkey chatter” they discover in their own mind! This is unfortunate, as many of the benefits of mindfulness only kick in after a few weeks of practice.
In my view, it is impossible to learn meditation from simply reading about it: you have to actually train the mind to do it, so I designed “Take the Steps” course as a step by step program to train the mind to develop mental focus and learn to meditate.
In addition to Mindfulness, the course also teaches techniques based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to undermine past negative thought programs that can re-assert themselves in times of stress, and techniques derived from Positive Psychology and yoga.
The course is aimed at putting you back in the driving seat. All the assignments and techniques used in the course are evidence-based, i.e. they are proven to be effective in research and to have long term effects on your happiness and wellbeing.
In each class, you will be using both right brain and left brain techniques, and the combination is powerful to bring about change.
Change does not come from reading or talking about. For many people, a lot of the material they read, just acts as another layer of things that they “should” do.
In contrast, real change results from being, doing, thinking and interacting differently.
Classes are one and a half hours each week. Half of the class is spent practising mindfulness and guided relaxation. The other half is spent practising techniques derived from CBT, yoga and positive psychology.