Did you watch “The Mindfulness Experiment” on ABC Catalyst?
My teacher, mentor and colleague, Timothea Goddard, who led the wonderful group of people who engaged in The Mindfulness Experiment, describes mindfulness as "a deeply social activity."
For me, witnessing the challenges and then the transformations of the participants in The Mindfulness Experiment, at times brought a tear to my eye.
It is the transformations I am privileged to witness, in the people who take the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course with me, that provide the inspiration to teach MBSR each school term.
I recall my very first group, I’m up to group 12 now. A wonderful group of people, who had all been touched by cancer in some way. To step into my first round of teaching MBSR, with such beautiful humans who were suffering at a truly deep level, to be trusted to support, hold, guide and teach them and to share some incredibly vulnerable moments, provided a level of learning that would not have been possible in any other setting.
From this place I stepped out into the community and began to teach public MBSR courses. Each is like a new version of “The Mindfulness Experiment”. As I greet and come to know each new group of people, I never really know what shifts will be possible in whatever they are facing. Some come with an inkling of what they have signed up for, many are surprised and people often say, this course is so much more than they ever expected. I’m always cautiously curious about how immersing themselves in MBSR, with 30 hours of face to face teaching and another 30 plus hours of home practice, will shift and change their relationship with some of the difficulties they each face in life.
Who Is “The Mindfulness Experiment” for?
The people who come arrive for many different reasons and from many different backgrounds. MP’s, doctors, lawyers, students, grandmothers, mothers, fathers, plumbers, carpenters, business owners, executives, school teachers, people with fibromyalgia, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, chronic back pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, PTSD, work stress, relationship stress, grief, experienced meditator's, novice meditator's, psychologists, yoga teachers, some come for stress reduction and others out of curiosity.
Whatever the reason, most have heard about the life transforming potential of engaging in MBSR. Some have tried online courses, apps or short introductions to mindfulness and tasted a little of what might be possible. With a little taste of the potential, people become curious about the potential of really immersing themselves deeply in a face to face, group course, with a formally qualified teacher.
What people who have experienced MBSR with me say:
“...I’d highly recommend the course to others…for learning how to slow down, bring awareness to reactivity and habitual thoughts, how to accept yourself just as you are…” 2018
“… The course was life changing. There are very few moments in life that create significant shifts in your brain to bring balance to one’s life but this course offered this and a great deal more. Our fast-paced world would be a better place if everyone practiced this regularly.” 2017
“The silent retreat was a fantastic experience…I loved the whole course, it was so well run and the materials are excellent. I have completely re-framed how I view my recovery from a chronic health problem. It has been a pivotal life event for me and will ripple through the rest of my life.” 2017
“I felt very well supported through the whole course. I’m now feeling much calmer and being able to recognise anxious thoughts as they arise and attend to them with gentleness…my levels of anxiety have changed enormously.” 2017
“I believe that MBSR is so important for one’s health that it should be promoted widely; in schools, hospitals, work places…It should be shared with everyone. It has the potential to change the world.” Susan, Retired School Teacher 2016
“The course has given me greater awareness on how to deal with stresses in life and how to cope with them on a day to day basis. I strongly encourage others to do the course.” 2016
Why all the Hype?
MBSR has been taught around the world for 40 years. Much of the research referenced by app producers and those offering short introductory courses, is actually the research from MBSR. A course that requires commitment to engagement in classes, a retreat day and lots of home practice. Around 60 hours of training over an 8 week period. And for that level of commitment, one does expect to see some form of change.
Since I began practicing mindfulness some 20 years ago, mindfulness has become extremely popular as a fix all for life ills. It is touted as a quick fix, with some even claiming all you need to do is practice for 2 minutes to gain the scientifically validated benefits. This is simply not possible. Like anything in life, if we want to master a skill set, perhaps as a tennis, cricket, or AFL player, if we want to learn how to drive a car or play a musical instrument, there is commitment, effort and a willingness to sit, fail, learn and start again.
MBSR really is “The Mindfulness Experiment”. An experiment held in the setting of a supportive group. A place where you are skillfully guided by a teacher who has committed to a high standard of training, a level of training that asks a lot of them over many years. A setting where you get to experiment with turning towards parts of you, that you may have avoided for a very long time. A place where you can begin to nurture a new kind of relationship with those parts of you that are uncomfortable, confronting, distressing to accept. A place where you have the opportunity to be still, to listen deeply to the whole of you, connect with your-self in a caring, kind, compassionate non-judgemental way. A place where you may finally become your own best friend.
You Can Take Your Own “Mindfulness Experiment”
To find out about the transformations possible through engaging in MBSR, watch Catalyst’s “The Mindfulness Experiment” on iView.
Be in touch to find out about our next MBSR course.
For mindfulness in your workplace, school or club, be in touch to find out about an introduction to mindfulness workshop. Experience a mindfulness practices, hear about some of the science and and learn how you can take this experiment further.
Or if your workplace is up for really gaining the benefits of mindfulness, be in touch to find out about more intensive workplace mindfulness programs.
Written by Karen Haddon: Mum of two teenage girls (one who lives with the complexities of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) who love their pets, Marshmallow the Pomeranian x Maltese dog and Spice the ginger kitten, both of whom love to practice yoga and meditation with Karen (the pets, not so much the teens).
Karen teaches MBSR on behalf of Openground and supports Smiling Mind in bringing their Mindfulness Curriculum to schools across Western Australia.
Formally qualified to teach various internationally recognised Mindfulness Based Programs, including the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) and MBSR for Teens, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Mindful Schools Curriculum and Mindfulness in Schools Project .B (MiSP.B), as well as Circle of Security Parenting and Dr Rick Hanson's Positive Neuroplasticity Training.