1. Show up fully for life.
Gary led a busy life. He spent hours planning and ticking things off his to-do list. At the end of the day, he was exhausted and still ...
From week 1 of MBSR, he began to...intentionally shift his focus away from thoughts and to appreciate experiences as they occurred. Gary began to notice details in his environment, the exquisite taste of food and his emotions. As he became more aware he made more choices and gave attention to things that nurtured him. We laughed with him as he kept saying, ‘Wow, I am more and more here’.
2. Enrich your connections
Jane is a busy woman. She works three days a week and cares for two kids. She said, "I'm rushed, an expert in multitasking, distracted and too often grumpy. Jane wanted to catch more tender and precious moments with her kids. She found many fellow travellers in the group.
As the course progressed, Jane began to find joy in small things, and as she calmed so did her children. At the end of the course, she said, ‘the structure of my life hasn’t changed much but it is richer in quality. I’m enjoying my kids and they are enjoying me. Our connection is deeper.
3. Improve concentration
Gary was constantly being told that he did not listen. Friends complained. People at work often got annoyed with him. He knew his mind was often elsewhere and that it was hard to be in the moment.
In week 6 of the course, he told us that friends were starting to notice he was different; more present, more fun, and more connected. Gary then told us he had a lifetime diagnosis of ADHD. He didn’t expect his difficulties with concentration to change in the course…but they did. As his capacity to pay attention improved, so did his capacity to relate.
4. Get some space from an overly busy mind
Elaine worried a lot. The more she meditated, the more agitated and uncomfortable she became -her worries followed her into the course. Elaine worried that she doing meditation wrong and was highly self-critical. She noticed that when she wasn’t worrying about meditating she was worrying about work, friendships, what she had to get done, things that had happened in the past, and problems that might arise in the future.
As Elaine became familiar with her repetitive patterns of thinking, observed them in meditation, and discussed this in class she noticed she had begun to take these thoughts less literally, to feel less harried and more alive. After MBSR she booked in for a self-compassion course. She said, "it is such a relief to approach myself with friendship".
5. Navigate the difficult
Jani had a serious illness and was living with an uncertain health prognosis. She often worried, and this left her stressed and sleepless. She coped by taking medication and trying to distract herself with activities, spending much time online.
When she began her course, she took on her mindfulness practice with great commitment and began to notice the moments her anxiety began to arise and the thoughts that fed her understandable fear. She realised that when she mindfully redirected her attention to either her breath or sensations in her body, her anxiety would eventually settle with time. This was very different from distraction.
Jani's sleep began to improve. She rang me 3 months after the course finished telling me she had been in hospital. She said, ‘the practices I learned allowed me to be calmer, and to better manage the pain’.
Book an MBSR course
Headrest run MBSR courses in Marrickville in Sydney’s inner-west and you’ll have me as the group leader. The courses are fun, informative and you’ll learn a lot. There’s a mixture of formal mindfulness training or ’meditation’ and informal mindfulness for daily life, as well as discussion, acivities and psycho-education. Courses run 4x a year. Our next course begins Aug 8 and the early bird discout ends July 11. Booking is through www.headrest.com.au.