What happens in a mindfulness-based stress reduction course?

Mindfulness is effective because it allows us to step out of autopilot, where we are out of touch with our thoughts and feelings and barely register the taste of the food we eat or the sensation of the cool breeze on our face as we walk down the street. Instead, mindfulness trains us to notice each moment with curiosity and kindness.

On most mindfulness-based stress reduction courses there are eight two-and-a-half hour sessions as well as a full day session. Each session includes a guided meditation led by the facilitator. People have time to reflect on their immediate experience of this and often gain insights into their relationship to their thoughts and feelings. There is usually a short talk based on the topic for the week that can include: How stress affects us; Working with obstacles and difficulties; Mindful communication; Tools for stress management, etc. There are usually some small group activities designed to raise awareness of patterns of behaviour. As the weeks go by participants are encouraged to reflect on how the previous week has gone and anything they noticed about doing the mindfulness practices at home.

A lot of the learning on the course is gained from the interaction with other participants. The emphasis is on people’s present moment or very recent experience. In this sense it is not like therapy, and participants are free to speak or remain silent if they prefer. Each week participants receive extensive notes on the theme for the week. They also receive guided meditation CDs to use at home.

Gradually, as the weeks go by, the course offers participants strategies to reduce stress levels and to make friends with their everyday experience. Participants come away with a set of tools that allow them to take better care of themselves in the ups and downs of everyday living.

For more information on this course which starts this coming Tuesday (January 24 ) in Athlone call The Dancing Soul on (090 ) 6490607.

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