Experience of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

This mindfulness novice gets serious

It is a while since my last blog on Mindfulness and a lot has happened. I have really noticed a difference in my mood, and reactivity to situations. I find I  notice my mood change and feel equipped to control it before I do something I might regret. My whole family is calmer and we are able to voice our emotions better without feeling vulnerable.

I have used Headspace a lot but also some other resources available on YouTube. You might want to experiment yourself. I like meditating to chanting and more often than not do it in silence.

I have done a lot more training and reading and I want to tell you a little about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course.

What is MBSR?

The 8-week MBSR course is a standardized course shown to improve symptoms of anxiety by using mindfulness techniques, and  daily meditations over an 8 week period. It involves attending group classes for 2 hours each week and some homework. The homework increases awareness of our feelings and responses to everyday situations. We were encouraged to keep a diary,  to think of an event that happened that day and reflect on how we felt physically and emotionally. The mindfulness course encourages us to get in touch with our bodies a lot more, to notice where we might feel things in our body and yoga is treated as a mediation practice. Other meditations vary from  20 minute sitting meditations, to a 45 minute body scan meditation usually done lying down. During the course there is a little taught theory but mainly discussion and sharing of experiences. I found the majority of the attendees had a little knowledge of mindfulness and were curious to see if it would benefit them.

The course has no religious or spiritual content so you don’t need to know anything before hand or have any religious beliefs.

There is a lot of research to show it works and is becoming more accessible through work, schools and the NHS. For more information The Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice has a comprehensive web site

Why did I attend this course?

I wanted to know more about Mindfulness, quite simple. I felt it had already impacted on me, increasing my self awareness . Self awareness is important in counselling and it seemed a good idea to learn to combine  counselling and mindfulness.  I could teach mindfulness to those clients who wanted to give it a try. After doing some googling I discovered the main training institutions that provide training and endorse the Good Practice Guidelines say all trainees should have completed this course.

What did I experience?

The course leader, Sally was lovely. We met in a quiet converted house on the outskirts of Huddersfield, and meditation equipment, mats and cushions were already there. There were always lovely smells of incense or candles to welcome us.

There were 11 in the group, mainly women, who came from all sorts of backgrounds. Some had suffered stress and anxiety for a long time, many years and had taken time off work due to its severity. Others were still managing to ‘live normally’ but their relationships were suffering as a result of short tempers and erratic behaviour. Others, like me wanted to use it in their work to help others.

We did a lot of small group work, talking to one other person but there was no expectation to share within the larger group unless you wanted to. However it became apparent really early on that the more we were prepared to share the more we learnt about how mindfulness was working for each of us.

There were 1 or 2 meditations in each class, and the ones we did in the session were the ones we were encouraged to do during the week at home. Sally would give us a recording of this to use at home.

Over the 8 weeks everyone felt different. More present in their life.

I had a great experience and would recommend it.

I am looking forward to some retreats and more training.