About MBCT – The course was developed from the MBCT curriculum for the general public to assist participants in learning mindfulness based strategies and to establish a formal and informal practice in their everyday lives. This course is not therapy, but can be therapeutic and is suitable for all. The purpose is to teach participants how you can be more fully aware and present in each moment of your life. In essence, participants learn to be present in life just as it is, from a neutral perspective or non-judgmental perspective. This means whatever you are facing, even if it’s unpleasant, can be acknowledged and managed in the most effective way and in the long run, reduces unhappiness. As you begin to see unpleasant thoughts, feelings or experiences more clearly, you develop the ability to skilfully choose your response to them.
Learning mindfulness is not related to relaxation. Meditation can bring on feelings of relaxation and it may not. In fact, you may find that initially it is not relaxing and can be a bit stressful as you cultivate your non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. This may be based on your expectations or you could be trying too hard to achieve relaxation. The point of mindfulness is to be aware of what is present, just as it is, even if this is a feeling of unrest, tension or stress. Try to let go of any particular outcome or goal to the practice and approach things with a quality of curiosity.
Learning mindfulness for the sake of relaxation can lead to feelings of frustration and disappointment if you cling to this expectation. You may start thinking that this isn’t working and this could leads to feelings that you are not doing this correctly, which leads to the feelings of stress. Mindfulness is learning to be in the present moment so you don’t get swept away by the habitual thinking patterns and you can more skilfully choose new responses.
Participants naturally are seeking to make changes in their lives by learning to do things differently. This approach is about learning how to inhabit rather than to resolve. This may seem paradoxical, but essential what we are learning is how to deal with difficulties by changing our reactions and our relationship to them.
It is helpful to understand that mindfulness is a mental discipline and is like building a muscle by training it to be stronger. Mindfulness is something you practice until it’s something you are. Home practice is an essential part of cultivating mindfulness and an essential part of the course. Each week we are working at changing habitual patterns of the mind that have been long established. Like any conditioned, learned behaviour, repetition is the key to learning. Each week you will be assigned homework to practice in your own time. Participants are invited to practice in their own time, building up to a half hour each day over eight weeks. Tasks will include listening to guided meditations, performing exercises and keeping a journal.
Included in the workbook is the overview of each week, summary of the learning and practice points to do in your own time. Course includes workbook and guided meditation MP3s. Visit here for more information on the curriculum aims. Read about evidence on the effectiveness of MBCT on Be Mindful’s website.
Each week we learn according to a theme:
Week 1 – Introduction to Mindfulness and Waking Up From Automatic Pilot Mode
Participants will learn about the principles of mindfulness and key attitudinal foundations of mindfulness and how they can understand the purpose of mindfulness based living and how to move from automatic pilot mode into mindful awareness.
Week 2 – Relating Directly to Now
In the second week we are looking how you can directly connect with the present moment experience and the normal and natural barriers to cultivating mindfulness and how we can best overcome them.
Week 3 – Problem Solving Mindfully
Our minds are designed to search for solutions when we find ourselves in the midst of a problem. There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting things to be better, but often we reject and resist to the point that we ruminate and the snowball effect happens and we create more suffering for ourselves.
Week 4 – Recognizing Aversion
Learning your aversion signature will give you space to respond instead of react to difficulty. Being in the present moment with non-judgmental awareness takes practice. This week participants learn strategies to being more mindfully aware of the present moment.
Week 5 – Exploring Acceptance
People often contribute acceptance with passivity, submission and resignation. This week we spend time learning and cultivating the key attitude of acceptance, allowing and willingness.
Week 6 – Thoughts Are Not Facts
Learning to live mindfully in the present moment means you change your relationship to your thinking and your thoughts. You begin to learn to look AT your thoughts rather than FROM your thoughts. Participants learn handy strategies for doing so. In addition, participants learn about the Observing Self.
Week 7 -Taking Care of Yourself
Mindfulness is about looking after yourself with self compassion. This week we work on how we can best take care of ourselves in a mindful way. This includes understand your basic human needs and learning how you can meet your needs in a friendly way.
Week 8 – Living Mindfully
Bringing together all the lessons from the previous weeks into how we can take what we’ve learned into all our future moments, mindfully. This includes understanding your vulnerable nature.