Tag Archives: mindfulness

The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs S2E1 on BBC1: how mindfulness can help children with ADHD and their families

Last autumn, I had the fun and privilege of being filmed with Drs Chris van Tulleken (@DoctorChrisVT), Susan Bogels @SusanBogels and Esther De Bruin as part of a documentary “The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs” filmed by Raw TV, an award winning production company, for BBC One.

with the drs

(From left to right) Dr Chris van Tulleken (right), me, Susan and Esther after the last session of filming with the parents and children.

I worked with Susan and Esther, the founders of MYmind an intervention that uses mindfulness to help children with ADHD and their families.  My roles was to run the mindful parenting sessions for the parents.  This took place while the children were learning mindfulness with Susan and Esther in another room.  I also created the audio recordings that the parents listened to with their children at home so that they could continue practicing mindfulness during the week, between the sessions.

I am proud and delighted that we were able to help parents use mindfulness to help their children with ADHD develop attention skills, improve emotional regulation and be better able to manage in school.

The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs Series 2 Episode 1 aired on BBC yesterday and if you live in the UK you can still see it on iPlayer here.

It was wonderful to work with the parents of the children and share part of their journey with mindfulness and I hope that their experiences may be shared with others.

photo with parents

Here I am with the parents who were part of the documentary.

If you are interested in the mindfulness training programme, MyMind for ADHD, you can find out more here.  I was involved because I took part in this training and have experience teaching mindfulness in schools and to children and families.

If you are interested in knowing more about mindfulness, MYmind and ADHD for children and their families, please get in touch with me.


What is MBSR? #mindfulness #MBSR

Mindfulness group 06A

Practicing mindfulness regularly helps enhance neural pathways in the brain, developing a deeper sense of peacefulness, calm and focus.

What is Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, aka MBSR?  This is the topic of tomorrow night’s Mindfulness Meetup – a taster session being run by Holistic Education CIC.

Substantial research shows that practicing mindfulness regularly can help reduce stress and enhance well-being, confidence and positivity.  Mindfulness is essentially a particular way of paying attention, on purpose and non-judgementally that can enhance the awareness of our experiences, moment by moment.  One of the best ways to learn to practice mindfulness regularly is to attend an MBSR course.

MBSR was originally developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre (USA) in the 1980s. It is a well-researched and evidence-based mindfulness programme that aims to help participants to develop confidence and skills in practicing mindfulness.  It consists of eight sessions (each between 2 and 3 hours long) and an additional all-day of practice.  It includes theory on how mindfulness works and opportunities to practice.  Home practice is an important part of the course and audio files are available to help with this.

Holistic Education runs regular MBSR courses following training by the University of Bangor’s Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice and the UK Network of Mindfulness Teachers Good Practice Guidelines.  The next MBSR course will be on Monday evenings from 6:30pm to 9pm from 18 Jan to 14 Mar 2016 (no session on 15 Feb). Included in the course is an Introduction and Orientation session (11 Jan 2016) and a Mindfulness Practice Day, Saturday 6 March 2016, 9am to 3pm.

Eventbrite - Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in Walthamstow Jan to Mar 2016

Day Workshop on Mindfulness for Educational and Child Psychologists and those working in schools: an update

Work with children includes using drawings to help them to express their experiences of mindfulness.  Here a child drew how he felt relaxed and comfortable all over his body.

Work with children includes using drawings to help them to express their experiences of mindfulness. Here a child drew how he felt relaxed and comfortable all over his body.

Educational and Child Psychologists have an essential role in schools and work with school staff, families, children and young people.  They apply psychology in a range of educational contexts to help children and young people make progress with learning.

Difficulties with learning may be due to factors that cannot be changed, such as autism or medical needs.  However, they may be also due to factors can be changed – such as the ability to pay attention and regulate emotions. Substantial research evidence shows that mindfulness, a form of training in body-mind integration, can help improve attention, learning potential, working memory capacity and mental health and wellbeing.  Those working in schools can help children and young people become  better able to manage difficult feelings, such as anger, anxiety and low mood.

This workshop is an opportunity for educational and child psychologists and others working in schools to learn about mindfulness and how it can be used as an intervention in schools.  It provides a theoretical and practical overview of mindfulness, including the research evidence for its benefits.  It gives an insight into how mindfulness training may be adapted for those with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and includes information on the Mindfulness-based Awareness Training (MBAT) intervention that was developed through doctoral research. Though training and support on how to integrate mindfulness into their lives, children and young people can enhance their potential to pay attention and learn.

To learn more about this and to attend a workshop, click here or contact me by email.

Best wishes, Bernadette

Mindfulness Meetup 13 April 2015: Participant Feedback

Practicing mindfulness regularly helps enhance neural pathways in the brain, developing a deeper sense of peacefulness, clam and focus.

Practicing mindfulness regularly helps enhance neural pathways in the brain, developing a deeper sense of peacefulness, clam and focus.

On Monday 13 April, I ran another Mindfulness Meetup session in Walthamstow.  Here is some of the feedback:

[I gained] “sense of peace”, “understanding of the rapidity and quality of thoughts”.

[what went well was] “being aware of every part of my body – appreciation”. “Mind slowed down – relaxation”.

“I liked how it flowed and clock time seemed to be irrelevant for the whole evening. Useful and relaxing approach to body and mind feel more accepting of my mind!”

“Easy atmosphere”. “I would like to do the eight-week course”.

[What I’ve found useful was] “the introduction of movement to keep the mind focused.”

“It was good to concentrate on the breathing.”

One of the quotes appear to be from someone who had done some mindfulness training before:”All good. Good “revisit” of body/ breath/ sound scan.will attend two emails for more “boosters” to my rudimentary daily practice.”

Would you like to come to one of the Mindfulness Meet ups?  For more information see the mindfulness meet up page.  For more information and to book on the next Mindfulness Meetup please go to the Eventbrite booking page.   Remember that there are discounts for those working in educational settings, students and those on low incomes. for more information about mindfulness meet ups and the promotional codes, please contact me.

Mindfulness Meet Up 23/3/15: Your feedback

Mindfulness Meet Up in Walthamstow are happening nearly every month.

Mindfulness Meet Up in Walthamstow are happening nearly every month.

Mindfulness Meetups started in Walthamstow in 2014.  Thank you to those who have attended so far and thanks to those who came last Monday.  These sessions are designed to get people practicing mindfulness together, whether they are beginners or experienced practitioners.

Last Monday, ten people attended, including myself: five beginners  and five who had done some training such as a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Course or similar.

We started with a 3-minute Breathing Space, a short time sitting in silence focusing on being here, ‘arriving’ into the present moment more fully as it were.  After the introductions we did a short sitting practice, some Mindful Movement and then a longer sitting practice. Here is some of the feedback:

It was a nice introduction to a variety of mindfulness techniques.

The 20 minutes at the end was good and gave me time to relax, let go.

I really focused on the ‘bringing wellness’ to particular body parts in today’s practice.  It was useful bringing that to specific body parts.

I was good listening to others and observing the difference between those new to the practice and those more experienced.

I enjoyed mindfulness in a group.

I gained a sense of “trust” – effortless effort in bringing our attention to loving ourselves, just focusing on ourselves.

I gained a feeling of calm and relaxation.

I enjoyed feeling more relaxed and felt an understanding of my body.

I learned new ways of practicing – every teacher is different.

I enjoyed the practices.  I feel I’m improving and concentrating on them.

I hope that this feedback inspires you to come along to a Mindfulness Meetup in Walthamstow, a brilliant opportunity to practice mindfulness with others.

Warm wishes,  Bernadette

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

Mindfulness Practice Day 7 March 2015

Practicing mindfulness regularly helps enhance neural pathways in the brain, developing a deeper sense of peacefulness, clam and focus.

Research shows that practicing mindfulness regularly helps enhance neural pathways in the brain, developing a deeper sense of peacefulness, calm and focus, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and improving overall well-being.

On Saturday 7th March 2015, there will be a Mindfulness Practice Day.  This is a litte ‘retreat’ for those who have had some experience of practicing mindfulness, yoga or meditation in a group.

We will be reviewing practices from the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction and Minduflness-based Cognitive Therapy courses.  The aim will be to delve into the heart of ‘being mode’ through a range of mindfulness practices, enabling us to turn towards our experiences with gentleness and curiosity as best as we can, moment by moment.

Research shows that regularly practicing mindfulness enhances neural pathways in the brain related to well-being and postive mental states and reduces those related to stress, anxiety and depression.

For more information see the Mindfulness Practice Day webpage.

Eventbrite - Mindfulness Practice Day in Walthamstow 7/3/15

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

Mindfulness in London – Opportunities to enhance well-being and develop skills to become more resilient to stress

Dr CarelseHappy New Year! Welcome to 2015 and the invitation to have a fresh start and focus on making life more meaningful to us as individuals, cherishing the time left in our lives.  Mindfulness is a way to take stock of and simple ‘be’ with where we are right here and now, moment by moment.   Research shows that it can enhance health, well-being and resilience to stress. In addition, it can help us become more aligned with longer term goals and aspirations. Here are some opportunities to learn more about Mindfulness and Yoga in London.

On Monday 12 January, there is a Mindful Evening in Walthamstow – aka the Walthamstow Mindfulness Meet Up.  It is an opportunity for people to meet up and practice mindfulness together.  This is for anyone interested, from complete beginners to those who would like a bit of a refresher or boost to their own practice.

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

Dr Carelse is a qualified British Wheel of Yoga teacher.

On 14 January, the “Yoga with Mindfulness” classes begin at the Corporation of London Community Education Centre.  This week, and next the centre will be taking bookings.  The classes will be run from 6pm to 7:30pm.

The following week, on 19th January, the next Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Course will be starting.  There has been a really positive response and there are only a few places left.

Overall the interest in mindfulness has been increasing, including in schools.  On 20th January, I will be running a 3-hour mindfulness session in a primary school to about 60 members of staff.  This is a shorter, more accessible version of the Introduction to Mindfulness Day Workshop that is part of the series of mindfulness training opprotunities that are available for those in educational settings.

.b Foundations was developed by the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP).

.b Foundations was developed by the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP).

On 26th January I will be presenting on mindfulness at a staff meeting in a secondary school, introducing further training that will be available at the school the following month.

Overall, 2015 is another year of opportunities to share this valuable practice with you and others.  By regularly practicing, we can support ourselves to sustain a level of equanimity through the inevitable changes that life brings.

For more information, including about training in mindfulness for schools, contact me.

Warm 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.