FAQ Mindfulness For Stress Course
Who are Breathworks?
Breathworks is a founding member of The UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teacher Training Organisations representing the leading mindfulness teacher training organisations in the UK. Other member organisations include Bangor University, Exeter University and Oxford University.
Our Breathworks Mindfulness for Stress programme is an internationally recognised course that was developed by Buddhist teacher and Breathworks founder Gary Hennessey (also known by his Buddhist name Ratnaguna). Although the meditation practices are rooted in the Buddhist tradition, this is a secular programme and there is no ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ teachings during the course.
Do I need any previous experience?
You do not need to have had any meditation experience beforehand but if you do have experience that is also fine.
Will I have to speak about my experiences?
No. It’s great if people like to talk about their experiences of the meditation practices, indeed this is one of the benefits of being in a group, but no-one expects you to say anything.
Will I need to do homework?
To get the most out of the Mindfulness for Stress course we ask each participant to undertake 20-30 minutes of home practice every day. You will be provided with guided mindfulness meditations and a workbook to assist with this.
Do I need special equipment?
You do not need any special equipment to attend one of our mindfulness courses.
Do I have to sit cross-legged?
Nobody will be asked to sit cross legged. Comfortable chairs will be provided and we will also spend some time exploring the right meditation posture for you.
Can I join the course part-way through?
No. Our eight-week courses are designed to introduce you to mindfulness practices step-by-step, and to get the most benefit it is important to attend all of the classes.
What if I can’t attend all of the dates?
To get the most benefit out of the course we would recommend that you attend all eight classes. However, if it is unavoidable then missing a class is fine.
What’s the difference between Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)?
MBSR was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, in the University of Massachusetts Medical School. It applies insight meditation techniques, which have a Buddhist psychological framework in a secular format. MBCT for recurrent depression was developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale. MBCT for recurrent depression represents an evolutionary development of MBSR within a cognitive scientific theoretical framework. It has proven effective in clinical trials for preventing serious recurrent depression and is approved and recommended in the UK by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).
The Mindfulness for Stress course is founded on practice-based research and combines key elements of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
Upon completion of the course can I teach Mindfulness?
No. Although this course is aimed at the general public it is also has the added benefit of being a prerequisite for anybody wanting to train to become a mindfulness teacher. Our 8 week Mindfulness for Stress course is recognised by many of the major mindfulness-based teacher training organisations as a prerequisite for anybody who wants to train to become a mindfulness teacher. After completing our 8 week Mindfulness course you will need to contact one of The UK Network For Mindfulness-Based Teacher Training Organisations and enrol on a Mindfulness teacher training course.
On completion of our Mindfulness for Stress course you may want to enrol on our post graduate Mindfulness Based Compassionate Living course.
Return to our Mindfulness for Stress page
What Is covered each week?
Each week of the course has a theme:
Week One: Learning to Choose. Much of our stress is exacerbated by our resistance to unpleasant experience, and what we resist tends to persist. So we are caught in a trap: the more we resist the more it persists! Mindfulness allows us to accept experience rather than reacting to it, which – paradoxically – allows us to let go of it. This lightens our load considerably, allowing us to get on with our life quite happily, even though it’s not completely sorted.
Week Two: Coming to Our Senses. When we’re stressed we naturally try to do something about it, and this usually entails thinking – problem-solving. The trouble with this strategy is that it doesn’t work very well! In fact it’s more often than not counterproductive. Thinking about our stress keeps us stressed! An important aspect of mindfulness practice is to pay more attention to our senses – body sensations, sounds, sights, tastes – which brings us back to our actual experience in the moment. This greatly reduces stress.
Week Three: Working With Thoughts. Thoughts are one of the main causes of stress, trapping us in a loop in which we try to solve our problems, while the very act of trying to solve the problem keeps us tied to the problem. But what to do? We can’t just stop thinking! One of the skills you’ll learn is to notice thoughts as they arise in your mind and let them go. This is a liberating insight for people who attend the course.
Week Four: Working with Difficult Experiences. Life, as you know, isn’t easy. Financial worries, issues around the way we earn our living and with work colleagues, difficulties in our relationships with family and friends – who doesn’t have them? Mindfulness doesn’t make everything nice and smooth and easy. Rather, it enables us to develop skills and inner resources to cope better – in fact to flourish – in the midst of the sometimes difficult and messy aspects of life. Learning how to be with unpleasant, difficult experiences without allowing them to ‘press our buttons’ is a key skill that you’ll learn.
Week Five: Noticing the Good Things. When we experience some difficulty in life we have a tendency to focus on it, often to the exclusion of all else, and especially the good things that are happening. On this week of the course we encourage you to widen your gaze a little and notice the small pleasures of life, which often go unremarked – the sun coming from behind a cloud and warming your face, a vase of yellow and blue flowers, a compliment from a friend, a job well done. We’re not trying to ‘think positive’, just trying to level the playing field. By noticing the good things and letting them affect us we’re working against what neuroscientists call the inbuilt ’negativity bias’ in the brain.
Week Six: Kindness. In a way the word mindfulness gives a wrong impression. People often associate the mind with the head, with the brain, with cool, analytical thought. Mindfulness certainly isn’t that. It’s simply awareness, and not a cool and detached awareness either – it’s warm, gentle, and kind. We emphasise this all the way through the course but in this week we bring it right into centre stage and introduce a kindness meditation.
Week Seven: The Social Dimension of Mindfulness. When we’re having a hard time it’s easy to become preoccupied with our suffering, and this can become a trap. In the last part of the course we take the kindness meditation further, bringing others to mind and cultivating a warm, gentle, kindly awareness towards them too. This can be difficult, especially if some of them are the causes of your current stress. However, research has shown that developing a more kindly attitude towards others has a very beneficial effect on the state of our mind and body, including the reduction of stress.
Week Eight: The Rest of Your Life. On the final week of the course we review everything we’ve learned and practiced, and we look to the future. The course only works to the extent that we practice. Now that we’ve come to the end of the course, how will you continue to practice and continue to benefit from it? We discuss ways of keeping inspired and reviving our inspiration when it flags. And we encourage you to look after yourself in the future. This isn’t ‘selfish’, it’s sensible. After all, if you’re going to be any help to others, you have to be in pretty good shape yourself!
What meditations will I learn?
All course participants will receive:
The Little Mindfulness Workbook By Gary Hennesey (Crimson Publishing)
The Little Mindfulness Practice Book by Gary Hennessey (Published by Breathworks)
USB with 18 different guided meditations
Lewis Psychology certificate of attendance
16 hours face to face mindfulness training with Brearhworks Accredited mindfulness teacher, Teresa Lewis
Each week we introduce a mindfulness practice or develop one that you’ve learned previously.
The Body Scan, which helps us to pay attention to the various sensations in the body, enabling a more ‘embodied’ awareness of ourselves than we usually have. Paying attention to the body in this way has the effect of quietening down our thoughts.
In the Mindfulness of Breathing we rest our awareness on the sensations of the breath entering and leaving the body. This has a calming effect, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Mindful Movement is a kind of moving meditation. We do some simple stretches, not so much to get fit as to really pay attention to what each movement feels like. Like the Body Scan and Mindfulness of Breathing, this allows us to get out of our head and to have a more ‘embodied’ awareness of ourselves.
The Kindness Meditation is a development of the feeling aspect of mindfulness. Many people are critical of themselves and this is an added source of stress. If you can never live up to your high expectations, will you ever be able to relax? Research has shown that being strongly self critical does not help us to change for the better. On the contrary, developing kindness towards ourselves – and self compassion when we’re suffering – helps to bring about the changes we wish to make. Then, when we’ve learned how to be kind to ourselves, we extend that to others. Kindness to self and others develops emotional resilience and is a great source of happiness.
One Small Thing. In addition to the more formal practices listed above, each week we introduce a small – ‘micro’ – practice that you can do in the midst of your everyday life. Doing something mindfully rather than without awareness, doing something slowly rather than habitually quickly, taking breaks (or at least a break!), accepting a difficult experience, noticing and letting in the good things that happen, trying to hold everything that happens within a wider perspective, responding rather than reacting to things and people. We can’t always choose what happens to us or how other people behave, but we can learn to have more choice in how we respond to life’s events.
How to contact us
You are welcome to get in touch with us before you apply for one of our mindfulness courses. You may also find the following pages helpful:
If you have any questions or would like to book please telephone our Wolverhampton practice on 01902 827808. Alternatively fill out our online contact form.