Meditation and Mindfulness
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a word we all know but very few understand. It is not something that readily can be explained in words, it is something which needs to be experienced to be understood
Words like ‘Mindfulness’ and ‘Stilling the mind’ are often used to capture some of the essence of meditation. In the Group David will take you through the preparation and the experience of meditation so that you can build that experience first hand. Some of the benefits of regular meditation are said to be:
- Stress reduction and decreased anxiety
- Reduces the noise and chatter of waking minds
- Supports the immune system
- Improved memory and ability to learn
- Feelings of peace, calmness and awareness of self
- Improves moodiness and irritability
- Improved sleep
- A sense of coming home
- A connection with the ‘self’
- A connection with the Divine.
The WHY meditation group led by David and runs on a drop-in basis, and is designed for those who wish to explore different aspects and paths in the art of mediation. During the sessions we’ll practice buddhist yoga techniques, yogic and vedantic mediations, taoist meditations, and secular mindfulness meditations. We will work with meditations on objects, sounds, visualisations, chants, yoga nidra, and meditative movement. These aspects and variations of mediation will of course come in over a period of time and we will spend enough time on each theme to allow us to really absorb the essence of whatever we are working with. ‘Breath’ will be the single theme that travels with us as we explore all of the rest.
The structure and format of the sessions will involve some simple movement of the body followed by breath centring and settling exercises, before moving into the meditation itself. They will run with an informal and light-hearted spirit that becomes applied to the meditations as we develop them. We will develop a main theme for each term so that we have the opportunity to go deeply into the core meditation over a period of weeks, but each session will be different around that main theme
You will need to have some experience of meditation to get the most out of this group, either as part pf a yoga class, as a mindfulness practice or as having done some sort of formal meditation. There is no need for any particular belief or path on your part, just come along and be open and we’ll see where the practice takes us, an open mind, a willingness to learn, and a desire to grow is all you need to bring with you.
Meetings of the Group will be held each week on Tuesday afternoons between 2:00 and 3:00 pm at the White Horse Yoga Centre. The path of the Group will develop over time and according to the needs and ability of those attending but it will start with the introduction and practice of different mediation techniques which will be led by David.
The cost of each session will be £7.00
The Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course was developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre in the late 1970s to help people deal with pain and a range of life issues that did not respond to treatment in a hospital setting. Since then, this eight week course has been adapted in an ever-increasing range of mindfulness-based interventions for physical and mental conditions, most notably Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), a treatment of choice in the NHS for the prevention of recurrent depression.
MBSR uses a combination of meditation, body awareness, and gentle movement to help diminish the tendency of the mind to rule us through impulses and habits. Through seeing our often unhelpful mental patterns more clearly, and meeting these gently and kindly, we can learn to deal with the stresses and strains of life in a new and more embodied way. Through the practices the course teaches we can learn to make choices that are more conscious and less reactive, becoming more understanding and responsive in our relationships with others, calmer. The key to success is continued commitment, rather than the one-off acquisition of a ‘technique’.
The journey of the course, taken in a group setting, is based on an agnostic understanding of Buddhist psychology and practice, with additional teaching drawing on current understanding of stress and depression. It is important to be aware, though, that it is not therapy. And if you are currently working with a Counsellor or mental health professional – or have been in the recent past – you should consult them before embarking on this course. There will also be an opportunity for a discussion with the teacher before committing to it.
Mindfulness is much better experienced than described. You will know if it works for you only by trying it; but there is now a large body of research evidence for its effectiveness. For example, researchers have found that mindfulness meditation produces changes over time in the brain’s grey matter, including in areas associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection; an early study showed that in eight weeks it improved the immune response to ‘flu vaccine.
Our MBSR course, containing elements of MBCT, is as developed and taught at the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University, the first academic institution in the world to offer Mindfulness as a Master’s level discipline. Taught in a friendly, collaborative way, it is the real thing.
The MBSR course of eight weekly two hour sessions costs £220, including course handbook, recordings of meditations, a day retreat and individual support between sessions, if needed.