Who is this for?
Mindfulness can be of huge benefit to anybody. However, it is a widely held experience that it is most likely to be of benefit for you if you are at a time in your life when you have a particular aspect of your life which you feel that you need assistance with. This could be a physical or emotional challenge brought on by a recent change of circumstance (new job, new relationship, challenging family dynamics), or a longstanding dynamic that you feel you have been facing for a while but would like new skills to help address (for example a sense of lack of direction in life).
What is involved?
The course requires that as well as attending the 8 x 2 hour sessions, you also attempt to undertake "home practice" . Home practice has two parts; formal and informal practice. Formal practice sessions mean undertaking the meditation practices introduced during the sessions at home in the days between the sessions. Ideally home practice takes place every day for up to half an hour; however, it is understood that this is not always achieveable, and indeed sometimes participants do struggle to uphold the home practice aspect of the course. Nevertheless, it is an important aspiration. Informal practice means bringing greater awareness to everyday life actions, such as eating and tooth brushing, as part of the process of staying more present and aware.
Practise the practices!
Mindfulness is sometimes compared to retraining the mind, in a similar way to which we may attempt to retrain the body by, for example, going to the gym. If we manage to do half an hour a day in the gym, our bodies will benefit more than if we manage to walk a mile instead of driving to the shops - nevertheless, both benefit the participant and show that the participant is managing to initiate some change in their life. Sometimes participants find the "informal practices" more accessible than the formal ones.
I have been practising mindfulness for four years. My practising of mindfulness has coincided with my role as Head of Sixth Form at Claremont Fan Court School, during which time the numbers in the Sixth Form have increased by 100%.
My life experience is someone who studied conventionally when at school and univeristy, but felt that these educations left something out. Subsequently I worked in communities with people with learning difficulties (in Yorkshire and Aberdeen), taught basketmaking professionally and then trained to be a secondary school teacher of history in Edinburgh. I moved to Surrey in 2002.
I have been trained at the University of Bangor, the Mindfulness in Schools Project and Mindfulness at Work.
I have taught mindfulness courses to various year groups at my current school; graduates of the course include students who said their practising of mindfulness helped them achieve entrance to Cambridge University, and also helped them overcome an eating disorder. Nearly half my staff colleagues have been trained in mindfulness as a result of my introducing it to the school.
I have taught 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Relief Courses to parents at Claremont and to groups at the Cranleigh Arts Centre and to a local group in Dunsfold. Over 80% of all participants have continued their mindfulness practice after the end of their 8 week course. I have also taught an Introduction to Mindfiulness to a primary school in Hertfordshire.
I thoroughly enjoy teaching mindfulness and am very enthusiastic that it can be very useful to enable people to enjoy and appreciate their lives more fully. I enjoy the role of helping facilitate participants' mindfulness practice, in whatever form that may take. I am very conscious that it is essential that mindfulness appears relevant to individuals' development and the particular challenges that they may be facing.
“I have found Mindfulness incredibly helpful in terms of increasing levels of focus, and enabling me to stay calmer in my work. I am really grateful to have had the opportunity to experience Mindfulness” ES Esher
“I felt like I was being transported to a beach in Barbados – it was really relaxing” RM Walton