Before starting a course
What should I wear?
Wear comfortable clothes in layers so that you can adjust your temperature if you need to. Make sure you are wearing clothes you can move around in, which do not constrict your breathing and you can wear to lie on the floor if you want to.
What do I need?
A place you will not be disturbed with a comfortable upright chair which is not too squashy for sitting practices. If your feet do not touch the floor you will also need blocks, books or cushions to go under your feet. You need enough space to be able to do some simple stretching movements and a mat or carpet to lie on the floor. You also need a blanket to cover yourself for when we are lying down and any cushions to make yourself comfortable (eg under your head or behind your knees). A water bottle. Think about what you need to organise so that you will not be disturbed – phones/pets/family members/door-bell etc
What will happen in sessions?
We will learn a number of different meditations including sitting meditations and lying down meditations. We will also do some mindful movement (gentle stretching movements). We will then explore together how the group experienced the meditation we have just done. There is no right or wrong way for the meditation to have gone – in mindfulness we are simply learning to notice what we are experiencing, whatever that may be. Nobody will be forced to speak in the group if they do not want to. We will also do some exercises to help us think about the patterns and habits of mind which can lead to stress and explore new ways of approaching difficulties and learning how to balance our lives.
How will it help?
Through the meditations we will be practising keeping our attention on our present moment experience. This skill is important in enhancing our sense of being fully alive – participants often report an enhanced sense of enjoyment and gratitude for the small things in life. Focussing on the present moment also reduces the volume of churning thoughts in our minds and therefore greatly reduces the anxiety, stress and emotional turmoil which these thoughts can produce. We explore new ways to approach difficult feelings so that you have more choice over what to do next. Rather than being overwhelmed by feelings or responding to them using habits which may or may not be constructive and helpful, mindfulness creates a small space in which to make a choice. Although increased calm and relaxation is not an aim of the course, for many people this is a welcome by-product of learning to meditate.
Do I need to know anything about mindfulness or mindful movement already?
The course covers everything you need to know. The movements are not ‘exercises’ but are to help focus your mind on your body. You do not need to be particularly fit or flexible and the movements can be adapted and done at any level which is suitable for you.
To get the best benefit from the course you need to attend every session. If you are unable to come to any session, please contact me to let me know. Similarly, if you feel like leaving the course, please phone me and we can discuss it together. It is not unusual for people to find the course difficult at times but with perseverance, the rewards come at the end! People who have completed the course have said that they would encourage people to ‘give it your best shot’ for the 8 weeks and then see how it was at the end of the programme.
The course is working to change some deeply ingrained patterns of mind. To be able to do this effectively, the classes are not enough. It takes practice. Part of the programme is undertaken by you at home with home practice. This will involve a 30 – 40 minute meditation for 6 days out of 7 plus other shorter tasks during the day (these might be as simple as really noticing what you are doing while you are doing it). I will provide recordings to guide you through the meditations. I will provide shorter recordings as well for times when 30 – 40 minutes is not possible but the longer practice is the aim! Think of the home practice as a short-term investment for a long term benefit. I will also provide weekly notes which cover the week's theme.
Set up for home practice
It is important to think about the practicalities of the home practice before you start the course. Where and when will you do it? Do you need to re-arrange your day to fit it in? Do you need to get up earlier to make some time for it? Do you need to ask friends or family to help you with some tasks to make some time available? Experience suggests that it is easier to remember to practise when it is part of a routine. Remember to tell people that you do not want to be disturbed so that they can help support your intention to practise.