You may have noticed that there has not been a HeadRest newsletter for almost 6 months. My mum had a small stroke just a couple of weeks before the April course was scheduled to start. Another meditation teacher offered to take my enrolments, and I gratefully stepped back, creating space to spend more time with my mother. After 5 years of non-stop teaching, I took 2 terms off MBSR. No facilitating courses, no blogging, no newsletters. After 3 months, my mum was doing well, but I was struggling not wanting to return to teaching.
"Even before smartphones and the Internet, we had many ways to distract our selves. Now that's compounded by a factor of trillions." Jon Kabbat-Zinn
Thich Nhat Thahn says, "We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive".
I’m always struck by how our devices have somehow crept in and often taken the place that should be held by an intimate other in our lives. Our phones live right next to our beds at night,get checked in with many, many times a day, and we miss them, sometimes desperately when they are not there.
Written by Michelle Carpenter
ABC Catalyst filmed an MBSR class in Sydney in late 2018 and this screened in early Feb. I was impressed to see how many personal stories and how much of the research they were able to cpature and present in just 1 hour. The courage and determination of the participants was humbling, and I found myself cheering them on throughout the program.
It's still on Iview and worth watching if you've done an MBSR course before or if you are contemplating one. I won’t give away too many spoilers but will share 2 things that stood out for me.
I teach Mindfulness based Stress Reduction an intense 8-week mindfulness course for stress reduction. I'm often asked, "how did you end up writing a much shorter introductory teachers course and why do teachers need a course- when they can use apps for themselves and their student?" Here's what happened?
In 2014, I found myself teaching the gold standard Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course in the library of Wilkins Public School, my son's new school.
Michelle Carpenter has been a school teacher & a leader for over 25 years. She is now teaching the HeadRest Mindfulness for Teachers course. She's written a few words on what draws her to mindfulness in her personal and working life.
I was drawn to meditation many years ago through an interest in Tibetan Buddhism, long before mindfulness hit the mainstream. I loved the teachings about how we could train our mind to become kinder, wiser and more emotionally balanced. Over the years I have continued to study, meditate and try to apply what I have learned from numerous wonderful teachers; sometimes successfully and sometimes not. If nothing else I am more accepting of my own humanity.
I'm getting very excited about the screening of "The Mindfulness Experiment" on ABC Catalyst this coming Tuesday 19th Feb, 8.30pm.
I'll be sitting nervously with those who attended the class watching to see what Catalyst has to report. I'm hoping that the richness of this 25-30 hour course is captured in just 1 hour.
I'm wondering what the participants will say and whether the scientific results the Catalyst team gather, will match up with my anecdotal experience and past research into the course.
"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom" ...Victor Frankyl
Humans are experts at making judgments. Our smart brains are always making decisions. 6.30 am- yes time to get up. Should I go to the gym - No, it’s too comfy in bed. Should I do some morework on that presentation? Yes, I’m worried others will be critical. What do I need to do to make it perfect it?
We make judgments all of the time. Our lives depend on them. While they are an essential decision-making tool judgments can get out of control if used in unhelpful ways. I got it wrong, I'm such an idiot! What will they think of me…I had better work non-stop! In our mindfulness practice, we attempt to cultivate a non-judging attitude. Why and what does this mean?
Have you ever wondered what an MBSR course is really liked? Contemplated booking in but not been certain about it?
ABC Catalyst have filmed an MBSR course. This screens next week on February 19. Our next course starts the week after. So watch and be inspired.
The course was filmed in late 2018. Fourteen people with diverse backgrounds and life experience bravely signed up to be filmed on their journey through the course. I met the Catalyst MBSR class in week 3 of their course when I filled in for their wonderful teacher Timothea Goddard and will be witting with them as they watch the screening.
“Instead of fixating on the peaks of civilisation, we need to pay attention to the foothills’ ... Fans Wels, a Dutch biologist
Do you remember Week 4 in MBSR when we talked about how the design of our human brain leaves us prone to stress? In the compassion course, we go into more detail on our brain by learning about our 3 emotional regulation systems, the safety system, the drive system and the soothing system. The course focuses on how we can can compassionately care for ourselves by getting to know all 3 systems and learn to intentionally activate the soothing system.
But first a quick, recap on the story of our 'Triune brain'…Our species evolved over millions of years, and much of the structure of our brain evolved in pre-human existence. Our current brain has 'old' reptilian and mammalian parts and a 'new' homo-sapien section.
"The richness of present-moment experience is the richness of life itself. Too often we let our thinking and our beliefs about what we “know” prevent us from seeing things as they really are. We tend to take the ordinary for granted and fail to grasp the extraordinariness of the ordinary"…Jon Kabbat-Zinn
Life is made of many moments, and if we miss the moments, we lose much of the richness in our lives. When I first learned to draw it took a long time to learn to unsee. My ideas of what a body looked like, a house looked like, and a tree looked like got in the way of seeing what was really there. I had to unlearn seeing.
To see with a beginners mind, is to see as if for the first time. When I began to do this, my drawings begin to reflect what was in front of me rather than the very flat and stereotyped representations that lived in my mind.
Tienne Simons is a therapist and the founder of HeadRest Mindfulness training. She did her training in MBSR when she became convinced that the program was not only a useful add on to therapy for many but sometimes a more appropriate way to support people than counselling. She has had a mindfulness practice for about 30 years- well nearly!