MINDFULNESS BASED STRESS REDUCTION, 8-WEEK COURSE

imageedit_1_7575371719

Do join us starting january 31st, for your big step into Mindfulness, in Mouans Sartoux from 10h00 to 12h00 on Thursdays

Free introductory session on January 24th.

Everyone welcome !

 OVERVIEW OF LESSON CONTENT

SESSION ONE – AUTOPILOT

There is more right with you than wrong with you, no matter what challenges you are facing.   

Difficulties are workable

Mindful awareness, which is paying attention, in the present moment, with kindness, is fundamental to this work since

the present moment is the only time anyone ever has to perceive, learn, grow or change

By becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations, as well as the external world, we give ourselves the possibility of a greater freedom of choice. We do not have to go down the same old mental ruts that have caused problems in the past

 

EXERCISES

Eating Meditation Sitting.

In this light hearted exploration of eating slowly and mindfully we have the opportunity to experience the difference between autopilot and mindful presence.

Body Scan Meditation Lying Down

The process of scanning through the different parts of our body helps us to develop both concentration and flexibility of attention simultaneously. This is preparation for later exercises where we fine tune our capacity to connect with our mood through the subtle changes that take place in our physical body sensations.

Gentle Standing Movement

Stretches adapted to the ability of participants will encourage body awareness and give us the opportunity to study the experience of movement with curiosity and interest.

 

Each class follows a theme but relates closely to the other lessons. There is time to share our experience of the guided exercises and of our practice at home.

HOMEPRACTICE

Body Scan (20 or 35 minutes) x 6 days

9 dots exercise

1 mindful meal

SESSION 2
PERCEPTION AND CREATIVE RESPONDING 

How you see things (or don’t see them) will determine in large measure how we will respond to them.  This ties in with how you see pain, illness, difficulty or stress. Here we start to see that it’s not the stressors per se, which have a direct effect on our mind and body but rather how we handle them which determines whether they will negatively influence the health of mind and body.

We explore thinking outside the box.

 

EXERCISES

Body Scan Meditation, Lying Down

The process of scanning through the different parts of our body helps us to develop both concentration and flexibility of attention simultaneously. We begin to fine tune our capacity to connect with our mood through the subtle changes that take place in our physical body sensations.

Meditation of the Breath, Sitting

Sitting in a chair or on a cushion you are invited to follow the guidance and patiently return to the physical sensations of breathing, gently coming back to the “now”, no matter how many times the mind wanders. We are not asked to stop the thoughts but rather change our relationship to them, allowing them to pass by and seeing what it is like not to get attached to the stories they tell.

 

HOME PRACTICE

Body Scan (20 or 35minutes) x 6 days

Sitting meditation, (10 to 15 mins) mindfulness of the breath x 6 days

Pleasant events calendar one entry per day.

Mindful routine activity, like brushing teeth, mindfully.

 

SESSION 3
MINDFULNESS OF THE BODY IN MOVEMENT

“Use the breath as an anchor to tether your attention to the present moment. Your thinking mind will drift here and there, depending on the currents and winds moving in the mind until, at some point, the anchor line draws tight and brings you back.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Meditations for Everyday Life

 EXERCISES

There is pleasure and power in being present in body and mind through practice of yoga & meditation.  

Yoga as a practice of mindfulness, emphasising gentleness, non-judgment, curiosity, respect for current physical limits, and non-striving. 

Noticing and questioning the conditioned tendency of the mind to label events as pleasant (& grasp at them) or unpleasant (and push them away). 

We can have pleasant moments while in crisis or pain, and unpleasant moments when things are going well too.

 

Meditation of the Breath, Sitting

Exploring the relevance of a dignified posture while “sitting”.

Walking meditation

Introducing walking slowly with mindfulness and how we might bring this practice into our lives as we move through our day.

Lying Down Yoga

Moving within our limits and staying aware of how the body feels.

Please bring a mat and shawl.

 

HOME PRACTICE

Body Scan (20 or 35minutes) x 6 days

sitting meditation, mindfulness of the breath (10 to 15 mins) x 6 days

Pleasant events calendar one entry per day.

Mindful routine activity, like washing up, doing it mindfully.

 

SESSION 4
RESPONDING RATHER THAN REACTING

 With mindfulness we are not guaranteed to be stress-free, but we learn how to deal skilfully with the inevitable stresses that arise as part of living a human life.

 

Conditioning and perception shape our experience;  mindfulness practice cultivates curiosity and openness to all experience and helps us learn new ways to relate to external and internal stressors. We start to recognise our automatic reactive patterns and find we are able to choose a skilful response rather than reacting in habitual ways to stress.

       

We review the physiological & psychological bases of stress reactivity, and how mindfulness can be used to work with stressful situations and experiences. Discussion of how people often cope by trying to escape through alcohol, food, screen time and other habits that suppress difficult feelings.

 

EXERCISES

30 minute Mindfulness of the breath and body

Expanding awareness into the body as a whole and further developing a broad and narrow focus.

The Three Phase Breathing Space a quick way to become aware of the moment and accept what is present in the way of physical, mental and emotional states.

 

HOME PRACTICE

Body Scan (20 or 35mins) alternated with mindful yoga x 6 days.

Sitting meditation (10 to 15 mins) mindfulness of the breath and body x 6 days.

The Three Phase Breathing Space at regular times during the day

Awareness of stress reactions and behaviours during the week without trying to change them.

Awareness of feeling stuck, blocking, numbing, shutting off from experience.

Review the information on stress in the class handout.

 

SESSION 5
ACCEPTANCE and ALLOWING / LETTING BE 

AWARENESS PRECEDES ACCEPTANCE

In the last session we discovered that if we are present and aware, we have a choice in how we deal with a stressor. We can react in our old unhelpful, habitual ways, or we can take a mindful approach and decide how we would like to respond with discernment.

 

In this class we explore further awareness of the conditioned patterns of escape from difficulty (fight and flight – reactivity/automaticity/mindless-ness).  Investigation of the ways we often cope by escape or denial. Honoring that these coping methods may have been protective and have supported survival in the past, but  are now counter-evolutionary and limiting, if not destructive.

 

We connect mindfulness with perception and appraisal in the critical moment when we are triggered into reactivity. We emphasise paying attention to the capacity to respond rather than to react to stressful situations.

Learning to honor the full range of emotions involves acceptance of them. We are then able, when called for, to express them with clarity and respect for ourselves and others. 

 

EXERCISES

Standing yoga

Sitting Meditation, (40 minutes) Mindfulness of the breath and body, sounds and thoughts.

Reflection on first half of course, midway assessment.

The Responsive Three Phase Breathing Space.

 

HOME PRACTICE

Sitting meditationS (30 mins), alternating with

mindful yoga/Body Scan.

Practice the Three Phase Breathing Space at regular times during the day.

Practice the Responsive Three Phase Breathing Space when needed during the day.

Fill out the Difficult Communications Calendar.

Awareness ofmoments of reactivity and investigating slowing things down with the breath.

 

SESSION 6
DIFFICULT COMMUNICATION 

The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.

 When mindfulness embraces those we love, they bloom like flowers’

 – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

TALK AND LISTEN WITH MINDFULNESS 

Mindful communication happens when we are truly present in this moment with curiosity, kindness, and compassion. We listen with an open, non-judgmental heart to the other person.

In class we explore a recent stressful communication, using the exercise to see feelings more clearly, identifying our patterns of communication and practicing expressing ourselves accurately.

With Mindfulness we cultivate the capacity to stay balanced in relationships. We become more flexible and recover more rapidly in challenging interpersonal situations. In class we use an aikido exercise to illustrate different communication styles.

 

EXERCISES

Standing yoga.

Sitting Meditation with less instruction (40 mins) breath, body, sounds, thoughts, emotions, open awareness.

Aikido communication exercises.

 

HOME PRACTICE

Sitting meditations (40mins), Body Scan, MindfulYoga Alternate these practices through the week.

Three Phase Breathing Space practice this at regular intervals during the day.

Three Phase Responsive Breathing Space, practice when needed.

Notice how you are relating to others.

 

The afternoon will start with a mindful lunch. An opportunity to eat your picnic lunch mindfully and prepare for an afternoon in silence with extended guided practice.

This helps to cultivate a sense of mindful presence and being open to any experience; an opportunity to practice mindful attention and immerse oneself in longer sessions of focus and quiet.

 

SESSION SEVEN

MINDFULNESS IN DAILY LIFE

&

BRINGING AWARENESS TO TIMES OF DIFFICULTY

  

LINKING MOOD AND ACTIVITY

Recognising how our activities interact with our mood and well-being helps us to make wise choices about which activities we choose. Learning to take action based on present moment experience is key. This is how we take care of ourselves, with kindness.

 

This lesson is about integrating mindfulness practice more fully and personally into daily life.  We are asked to purposefully reflect on life-style choices that are adaptive and self-nourishing as well as those that are maladaptive and self-limiting.

 

EXERCISES

Sitting meditation – Open Awareness and the breath as anchor.

Questions about communication from Session 6

Discussion of what we take in; food & other sensory experience.

Loving-kindness meditation.

 

HOME PRACTICE

Practice own choice of body scan, yoga, walking and/or sitting for 45 mins, without using recordings (or alternate between recordings and own practice)

Informal practice of being as awake and aware as possible throughout the day.

 

SESSION EIGHT
MAINTAINING THE MOMENTUM

Keeping up the momentum of intention and commitment developed over the course in formal and informal meditation practice.

Review of supports to help integrate the learning from this program over time: books, recordings, graduate programs, free sessions, webinars, apps, retreat centres.

 

EXERCISES

Longer less-guided sitting and moving practices.

Guided reflection – learning from course, goals for future.

Discuss course e.g.  expectations, hopes, learning, costs, future.

Feedback forms.

Final meditation, acknowledge group ending.

 

HOME PRACTICE

A programme that you choose for yourself and the option to team up with a meditation buddy.

This may sound like the end of something but it is in fact the beginning of taking a mindful approach to life and there is no limit as to what can evolve.