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Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust
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Mindfulness is a practice drawn from the ancient Buddhist traditions which is non-religious and does not conflict with science or any other culture. Mindfulness is the intention to stay in the present moment and experience each moment as richly as possible by utilising all of our senses i.e. touch, taste, sound, smell and vision. This requires the ability to direct our focus to where we choose it to be. So instead of it straying into the past, or leaping to predict the future, our focus is consciously drawn back into what we are doing NOW.

The moment of mindfulness is noticing that the focus has strayed, where it has gone and choosing to bring it back to the present moment. This can happen repeatedly, over and over again and is an on-going process. To apply this to everyday life means escorting the attention to what is happening right now. This sounds very simplistic, but for those of us who are inclined to spend much of our time ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, it can be very difficult indeed.

Mindfulness is a skill we can incorporate into our daily life if we choose and helps us to break old automatic pilot unhelpful habits and respond in a more skilful way. We tend to live a lot of our lives on automatic pilot which means we are not consciously aware of our choices and actions. We can therefore engage repeated patterns of behaviour that are not helpful without even realising that we are doing so. Mindfulness helps us to develop awareness in our thoughts, feelings and body sensations which are an anchor to the present.

How Do We Learn and Practice Mindfulness in a Group?

  • The main method of learning mindfulness and practising the skills is by formal meditation.
  • Meditation is swathed in myth and assumptions, so let’s first clarify what is meant by this.
  • It does not require us to sit cross legged on the floor, wreathed in incense and chanting!

The MBCT Group format includes an orientation session a week prior to commencement of the treatment sessions. It is an opportunity to meet and greet, sample meditation practices and clarify any questions you may have. This is then followed by the eight week course, each session lasting for two hours. All sessions will be at the same time and place for continuity and the group is closed to new members following the first session. The group will be conducted by a qualified Mindfulness teacher plus a co-worker. There will be an evaluation at week four to see how group members are getting on.

A significant part of the group content will be guided meditation practises which will inform your home practice and is the vehicle for starting to embed the skills of mindfulness. The meditations will mainly be whilst seated in chairs, but will also include some simple stretching exercises and mindful movement. All mindfulness meditation practices are always followed by reflective inquiry which serves to clarify and enrich the learning and experience of meditating.

Please be assured that at no time will group members be required to participate in verbal or meditation practices if they do not wish to do so. There will be guidance for alternative ways of participating or the option to simply watch and follow the exercises, whichever is more comfortable for you.

Kindness and compassion are embedded in Mindfulness and will be a core element of the course. Participants are encouraged to notice and give themselves permission to meet their needs, whatever they may be.

There is a particular emphasis on learning to come back to the present moment and ground yourself in your body by focusing on sensations or “the felt sense.” The body is always in the present moment and does not distort experience; therefore it is a reliable anchor to the present and provides us with important information about what is happening for us moment by moment. By coming into our body, we are required to shift our focus from our thoughts which may often be confused, chaotic and distorted.

We are learning to focus our attention on heart, body and mind which provides us with valid and helpful information. This serves to increase our awareness of self in the moment and enables us to make wiser choices about how to respond in any given situation.

Home Practice

An integral component of the MBCT group is the home practice connected to what is learned in each session.

You will be equipped each week with homework sheets and a guided practice CD so that you can practise at home on a daily basis.

It is most beneficial if you set aside 30 minutes a day, just for yourself, in which to practice one of the meditations and to write your reflections on these practices and other exercises that we encourage you to do.

Mindfulness is a skill like any other and requires frequent repetition and practice in order to improve. The formal meditation practises will help you to extend your awareness into daily mindful living, whatever you are doing or wherever you are.

Lastly, there is no right or wrong way to meditate or be mindful. You will quickly learn that it is in the nature of brains to wander, which they do repeatedly! The art of being mindful is to notice this, over and over again, and to gently, and without judgement, bring your focus back to the present moment and the task that you are currently engaged in.