Tag Archives: Carelse

What participants have said about the MBSR course

The MBSR course takes place with a small group of people - about 10 to 14 participants.

The MBSR course takes place with a small group of people – about 10 to 14 participants.

I really appreciate getting feedback from participants.  It helps me develop as a mindfulness teacher, appreciating where things work and tweaking bits where need be too.  It helps me ensure that what you are getting what you wanted from the course and that the teaching is adapted to your needs.

You may view the feedback on the the MBSR webpage where there is more information about the course.  I also include it here:

What have participants said about the course?

“I really enjoyed the fact that we were quite a small group. I know other people who have completed the course in much larger groups and I was pleased to find out ours was smaller. I valued most the discussions, reflections and sharing of ideas / experiences and this was enabled through your facilitation and also supported by being part of a small group. I feel I have benefitted both personally and professionally from attending the course.” (Educational Psychologist).

“I appreciated the structured well organised weekly sessions and practise of the mindful techniques to help manage stress and be more relaxed.I particularly liked the simple 3 Minute Breathing Space, which has been my ongoing regular practice that has helped me cope better in some ways.
I am more aware of being vigilant to my thoughts, feelings and actions with the aim to choose how to respond, rather than to simply react to everything. The excellent course handouts were in context with each practical session, that gave meaningful explanation and purpose for benefitting from the MBCT practice.”
(Yoga Teacher)

“I enjoyed the course and have continued to put it into practice within my daily routine. I enjoyed listening to other people’s opinions, challenges and strategiesI would recommend this course for anyone trying to open up their awareness of mindful meditation. I have found that I am less reactive to situations and more aware of my actions as a result.” (Speech and Language Therapist).

“I would recommend [the course] to anyone, particularly within the educational field or within parenting work, where I think it has great applications. I would also recommend that they make the time for as much home practice as possible.” (Educational Psychologist).

“Strongly recommend the course. I have always been resistant to idea of group work/ sharing but a convert. Thank you for enlightening me! I liked way you supported people and kept reiterating effectively that no right or wrong way in meditation and acceptance of what was importance as it seemed to me that some attendees were very hard on themselves and this present as a barrier to them.” (Student Occupational Therapist).

I hope that this feedback may be inspiring to those considering mindfulness training.

Warm wishes, Bernadette

Mindful Meetup 12 January 2015: Feedback from Participants

There is a regular Mindfulness Meet Up in Walthamstow.  Click for more information.

There is a regular Mindfulness Meet Up in Walthamstow. Click for more information.

Last Monday, I hosted another Mindfulness Meetup in Walthamstow.  These sessions are opportunities to meet up and practice mindfulness in a group.  They are for any level of experience – from complete beginners to those who have done some training and wish to practice in a group.

This evening, eleven people came along and the session started with introductions, a short mindfulness practice and a brief discussion about what we wanted from the evening.  It turned out that nearly everyone was fairly or completely new to mindfulness.  I introduced a bit about the background to mindfulness, including how and why Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Course and something about the research evidence on the benefits of practicing mindfulness regularly.

Jon Kabat-Zinn (left) and myself, at the Mindfulness Conference in Chester in 2013.

Jon Kabat-Zinn (left) and myself, at the Mindfulness Conference, Chester, 2013.

I also mentioned a study that found that even after a couple of weeks of practice, the brain already shows measurable signs of structural change in parts that enhance positive emotion and cognitive skills.  So it can take weeks, rather than years, before we start feeling calmer, experiencing a deeper sense of well-being and better concentration.

The group also shared their reasons for wanting to learn more about mindfulness.  Some explained that they had difficulties with general anxiety and others mentioned problems with sleeping.  Some wanted to become more effective at their jobs and also to be able to ‘switch off’ from work when away from it.  All wanted to explore what mindfulness might offer to them personally.

While participation in mindfulness practices affects each of us individually, research show that regularly practicing mindfulness practice can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and improve overall health and well-being.   For example, it can improve emotional regulation, giving us skills to readjust our moods and how this in turn affects our outlook on life.  We can get better at noticing what is happening in the moment and make choices quickly, so instead of going into automatic thought patterns that perpetuate stressful, we can cultivate ones that bring more positive mind-states.  We can bring a sense of appreciation, calm, equanimity and overall well-being into more of the moments in our lives.

One of the mindfulness group sessions from the MBSR course.

One of the mindfulness group sessions from the MBSR course.

The rest of the evening was about practicing.  We were able to start glimpsing into how the mind behaves – that it wanders, quite automatically – and how to notice this and gently and kindly guide the attention back to the chosen focus (the feet on this occasion).  This is a fundamental practice in the process of cultivating mindfulness.

Finally, we journeyed into a longer, sitting practice for 20 minutes, as agreed by the group. Because we had gone over the essence of the practice, there was an opportunity try this is relative silence, with only a few prompts.   The focus was on cultivating mindfulness of ‘body’ and ‘breath’, with a gentle friendliness towards experiences, as best as we can.  The room went beautifully quiet, still and focused, with a gentle sense of peacefulness.

At the end, a short evaluation form was completed. The feedback was really positive and I have included a few quotes here for you:

Good intro + overview.  I am not alone.”

“People were very open about reasons for attending.  This relaxed me.”

“There is a wide-spead need for this sort of training.”

“It felt comfortable.  Good to be able to be completely quiet/ still.”

“I enjoyed meeting like-minded people and meditating in a group for the first time.  Instruction was useful and definitely considering attending the course.”

“Allowed myself space to reflect on why I might be here.”

“Able to learn strategies for relaxation and how to connect with yourself by focusing on your feet/ breath.

“Completely new to mindfulness.  Enjoyed the practice session.”

“I was able to relax more fully than I feel I’ve been able to for some time.”

MailinglistI hope this inspires you to come along to the mindfulness training offered by Holistic Education and the Mindfulness Meetups in Walthamstow,  For regular updates, please join our mailing list.

Best wishes, Bernadette

Paws .b: New mindfulness course for primary schools

Today, I met up with a group of teachers who had trained to run Paws .b course, a new mindfulness course for pupils in primary schools.  In August this year, we had met in Bangor, Wales for 3 days of training to deliver this programme.  Following a pilot programme in April, this was the first time the updated training programme had been delivered.

Paws .b is a well structured and evidence based mindfulness programme for pupils in primary schools.

Paws .b is a well structured and evidence based mindfulness programme for pupils in primary schools.

Paws .b course was developed by mindfulness teachers who also had experience teaching in schools, as part of the Mindfulness in Schools Project, a “non-profit organisation whose aim is to encourage, support and research the teaching of secular mindfulness in schools”.  The training involved going through the Paws .b programme session by session, giving us a clear picture of the structure and the thinking behind the course.  One thing that I really appreciate is its in-built flexibility: it may be delivered as either 6 one-hour sessions or as 12 half-hour ones.

Of all the mindfulness exercises we learnt my favourite was the “petal practice”.  Here, you move the fingers of one hand or both hands in time with the breath.  This involves bringing the fingertips of each hand together while breathing in and opening up the palm of the hand, like an opening flower, while breathing out.  I found it quickly and easily anchored the attention on the breath and sustained it there.  From here, the wandering mind of automatic thinking and reactivity could be gently settled and stilled and a calm peacefulness enabled to emerge.

Over the three days, there were ample opportunities to get to know each other and share our backgrounds into mindfulness.  All of us had done an 8-week mindfulness training programme, such as Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and had an established mindfulness practice; this was the main prerequisite for the training.  I also learnt that despite coming from a variety of backgrounds, including schools, clinical, therapeutic and business settings, we also shared a confidence in mindfulness as a way to promoted mental health and well-being and desire to share this with children.

Since the training, many have started running the Paws .b course in schools across the country and beyond.  Today was wonderful in terms of being able to catch up  in a small group, and share about our experiences of doing so.

For more information on Paws .b by Holistic Education, click here.

Taraloka and the “Wisdom of the Awakening Heart” retreat (July 2014)

During July this year, I was priviledged to be at the “Wisdom of the Awakening Heart” Retreat at Taraloka.  It was led by Vijayamala and Maitrivajri, two ordained Buddhists from the Triratna Buddhist Community.  I realise that it is beneficial to attend retreats regularly to develop my own practice of mindfulness and meditation.  In the past, I had attended classes by a range of teachers.  I noticed that I found Maitrivajri’s style of teaching meditation to resonate with me and for that reason I chose this particular retreat.

Taraloka is a beautiful retreat centre in Shropshire, run by members of the Triratna Buddhist Community.

Taraloka is a beautiful retreat centre in Shropshire, run by members of the Triratna Buddhist Community.

The retreat ran for seven days and each day involved several hours of meditation, starting at 7am with a 90 minute session before breakfast.  After breakfast there was a talk and another 90 minute session before lunch.  In the afternoon, there was a third practice before supper and a final one before bed time.  So each day, apart for helping out in varioius community related activites (such as helping to make a meal or with tidying up), there was ample opportunity to develop meditation experience.  The retreat was also held in silence, from the second day to the second last day, allowing five days of no speaking (or speaking limited to essential moments) except during the two 10 minute meditation reviews, which for me, were on the third and 5th days of the retreat.  I also enjoyed running each day and doing some yoga, and altogether this helped deepen the experience of being.

The meditation practices and talks were on an aspect of Buddhism called the “Mandala of the Five Prajnas”.  The Prajnas (or ‘wisdoms’) are qualities that are beyond words and which need to be experienced to be understood, as they exist in the awareness we bring to our experiences.  One ‘wisdom’ was in perceiving things as they are, thereby coming into relationship with our experiences in an authentic way.  Another was in awareness of our shared humanity.  The third wisdom was in noticing, accepting and rejoicing in our uniqueness and individuality.  The fourth was in cultivating freedom and spontaneity in awareness.  The fifth was in deepening awareness into something beyond words, the infinite and boundless present.

Overall the retreat was a much appreciated as a opportunity to cultivate insightful and deeper aspects of awareness.  I hope that in reading this, you may feel inspired to explore the Mandala of the Five Prajnas.  For more information, please get in contact.

Here I am (Bottom left of picture) at the Wisdom of the Awakening Heart retreat at Taraloka.  It was an inspiring event that helped to further develop and deepen my meditation practice.

Here I am (see bottom left of the picture) with almost all the other participants at the Wisdom of the Awakening Heart retreat at Taraloka. It was an inspiring event that helped to deepen my meditation practice.


New term of yoga classes in the city

The British Wheel of Yoga is the largest yoga membership organisation in the UK. We are committed to promoting a greater understanding of yoga and its safe practice through experience, education, study and training.

The British Wheel of Yoga is the largest yoga membership organisation in the UK. It is committed to promoting a greater understanding of yoga and its safe practice through experience, education, study and training.

On Wednesday, 30 April, the new term began for the beginner and intermediate yoga classes that I run at the City of London Community Education Centre.  I have been teaching in this context since September 2000.  Over the last 5 years, these courses have been managed by Hackney Community College.  If you would like to enhance your health and well-being and live or work close to or in the city, there are still a few places in the classes and you are welcome to join.  if you are interested, call 020 7332 3918 or 020 7608 2753 or email adulteducation@cityoflondon.gov.uk.

These classes are a fantastic opportunity to learn about yoga with an emphasis on bringing mindfulness to the practice to develop awareness, balance, flexibility and strength.  As a British Wheel of Yoga qualified teacher, I have experience and training in adapting the yoga practices to suit a broad range of age and ability.

Samurai Shiatsu Practitioner Training for the first time in the UK

Svenja Schaper and Karin Kalbantner-Wernicke, founder of Samurai Shiatsu. who both ran the training course 11-13th April 2014, London.

Svenja Schaper and Karin Kalbantner-Wernicke, founder of Samurai Shiatsu. They ran the first UK Samurai Shiatsu Practitioner training course for qualified Shiatsu practitioners, 11-13th April 2014, London.

Following three days of intensive training with other qualified Shiatsu therapists, I’ve become a Samurai Shiatsu Practitioner.   It was inspirationally led by Karin Kalbantner-Wernicke, founder of the Samurai Shiatsu Programme, and Svenja Schaper, translator and UK co-ordinator.  We left feeling confident to deliver the School Samurai Programme to children and older adults. This well-structured programme has been delivered extensively in Germany and Austria and is also available in France, Switzerland, Hungary and the Netherlands.  This training was offered for the first time in the UK and if you would like information see the Samurai Shiatsu website or contact me.

What mindfulness can do for you

I was looking at the website for finding Peace in a Frantic World, and found this great page that outlines the main benefits of practising mindfulness in a simple way.  And another page with some recordings for those who may need them for practising.  I’m putting these on the Resources page, to pull together some of the useful websites that I’ve found.

Mindful Teachers, Mindful Classrooms

This morning, I was part of the team supporting an “Introduction to Mindfulness” session by Hackney and City Mind, in collaboration with the Mindfulness in Schools Project and Educational Psychology Services at Hackney Learning Trust.  This was an opportunity for those working in schools to find out about how mindfulness can enhance the flourishing of well-being in professional lives, schools and classrooms.

Over thirty participants joined in mindfulness practices and were introduced to the evidence-base for teaching mindfulness in schools.  It was well-received and many were interested in further training in mindfulness, such as the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courseContact Holistic Education for further information about Mindfulness Training in Schools and the .b programme.

Hackney and City MINDDot B MISPHackney Learning Trust

Mindfulness Interest Group, Hackney Learning Trust

Hackney Learning Trust

There is a monthly Mindfulness Interest Group at the Hackney Learning Trust.

Today I ran the first Mindfulness Interest Group at the Hackney Learning Trust.  It was brilliant to spend my lunch break discussing and sharing a few mindfulness practices with others.  Some had no experience, and others had done an 8-week course.  Overall, they were keen to have more opportunity to learn about mindfulness at work.

The next session is planned for Tuesday 29th April and the plan is to discuss how best to promote mindfulness in the work place.  We will also explore material from the Peace in a Frantic World book.