MBCT Week 1
Many thanks to all of you for attending week one of the Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy course. Below please find a link to the audio files and some resources which I hope you find helpful. Also for those of you that weren’t able to attend this week please find a summary and I look forward to welcoming you next week :)
First of all lets start a reminder of what mindfulness is:
It’s my job on this course to support you with your home based learning. Our weekly classes will hopefully be an introduction to the aspects of mindfulness you can explore in your own time and at your own pace.
This week for the home study it would be great if you could:
1) Get yourself a notebook to use as your mindfulness diary to record your experiences and learnings (this is for your personal use only and you will never be asked to share your experiences unless you’d like to).
2) Spend a few mouthfuls of one of your meals this week “mindfully eating”. For those of you that didn’t attend the class please find yourself a raisin and complete the raisin exercise below! You may find it interesting :). Please record your experience so that we can discuss.
3) Choose one routine activity in your daily life and make a deliberate effort to bring moment-to-moment awareness to that activity each time you do it, just as we did in the raisin exercise. Possibilities include waking up in the morning, brushing your teeth, showering, drying your body, getting dressed, driving, taking out the rubbish, shopping, etc. Simply focus in on experiencing what you are doing as you are actually doing it.
4) Listen to the Body Scan Exercise for at least 5 out of the next 6 days. You can do this either sitting or lying down. Again please write a few lines about your experience, particularly noticing where your mind wandered off to and how frequently you brought it back.
REMEMBER WATCH & OBSERVE THE MIND AND WHERE IT WANDERS BUT DON’T JUDGE!
What we covered
This week we had a look at how frequently the mind drifts off into automatic pilot. When we ate the sultana or the malteser you may have noticed that your experience was completely different to when you stepped into the here and now and out of auto-pilot. Equally with the body scan we were able to notice how frequently the mind wandered away from the present moment and how using the breath we could return back to the focus of our attention.
Here are a few notes on automatic pilot:
An introduction to automatic pilot
In a car we can sometimes drive for miles “on automatic pilot,” without really being aware of what we are doing. In the same way, we may not be really “present,” moment-by-moment, for much of our lives: We can often be “miles away” without knowing it.
On automatic pilot, we are more likely to have our “buttons pressed”: Events around us and thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the mind (of which we may be only dimly aware) can trigger old habits of thinking that are often unhelpful, and may lead on to worsening mood.
By becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, from moment to moment, we give ourselves the possibility of greater freedom and choice; we do not have to go down the same old “mental ruts” that may have caused problems in the past.
In increasing our awareness of autopilot, we can respond to situations with choice rather than react automatically. We do that by practicing to become more aware of where our attention is, and deliberately changing the focus of attention, over and over again.
To begin with, we used attention to eating the raisin to explore how to step out of automatic pilot and notice what it feels like to have a “beginners’ mind”. We then used attention to different parts of the body as a focus to anchor our awareness in the moment and training ourselves to put attention and awareness in different places at will. This is the aim of the body scan exercise. By practicing it at home for this week’s homework you will start to increase this awareness of autopilot which is the first and most important step in any mindfulness practice.
Here are the official audio files for the sessions we ran last night (not my voice!). I have also included a you tube link to a 15 minute body scan if you would think a shorter one is more realistic for you :)
15 minute body scan with Prof. Mark Williams:
Here are a couple of great you tube clips. The first is a great 10 minute TED talk by the awesome Andy Puddicombe (former buddhist monk and founder of headspace) on mindfulness. The second is Professor Mark Williams (founder of MBCT) reading “Hokusai Says” a poem that gets the heart of what mindfulness is all about!
A Mindful Poem
This was the response of an amazing 85-year-old woman from Kentucky, when asked how she would have lived her life differently…
If you’d like to read a little more about mindfulness here are some of my favourite books on the subject:
Peace is every step by Thich Nhat Hanh
Practicing the power of NOW by Eckhart Tolle
MBCT for dummies by Dr Patrizia Collard
This one is written by my trainer and is a great supplement to the course :)
A great film!
If you’re interested in the latest research into mindfulness and how our state of mind can impact our health and wellbeing I can highly recommend the film below (you have to buy the whole film but the clip is worth a look).
And remember …
Thank you for coming along and I look forward to seeing you next week.