Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – Qualified Teacher
“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 Frankl
This post is a celebratory one. After a 2 ½ year personal & professional journey, 200 study and practice teaching hours and having just completed my 2nd intensive 10 day Teacher Training Retreat at The Mindful Academy near Valencia in Spain I am now qualified to teach their 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course. A big thank you to my excellent teachers Bohdin and Kathy Ward and to my co-students for their incredible levels of support and inspiration. Time now to reflect on everything I’ve learnt and start planning my first Mindfulness Taster Sessions for Autumn 2015.
In the meantime here is just a small selection of key learnings from my Mindfulness studies which I hope you may find intriguing.
If you are interested in learning more about how to cultivate The Mindful Approach to life and to business then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my page Mindfulness Training at Work
Thoughts are not Facts – they are just mental events. Pulses of activity in the brain. By training ourselves to simultaneously observe and experience our thoughts, we can begin to choose which ones to just look at, and which ones we want to look from – and then translate those ones in to Actions.
We are not designed to experience long-term stress and it is incredibly toxic to us. The “fight or flight” response evolved to keep us safe from short term danger – think attack from another person or a large animal – you fight or you flee, it’s over in minutes, your body and brain switch back to “I’m OK”. In the 21st Century we are activating our stress response every day multiple times a day – think traffic jam, late train, email in-box, too many meetings, missed train home, large bill on mat, bad news story etc. etc. We get stuck in the loop. The “high” we get from adrenalin and other physical responses when we experience short term stress situations helps with our focus and quick thinking and nothing wrong with that. Stress in short sharp bursts is fine. But when we lose the ability to switch off our stress response then bad stuff happens to our brains and our bodies. It’s like driving a car stuck in 5th gear all the time and expecting to get round corners safely. And wondering why we crash. We need to re-learn how to skilfully change gears again.
Our subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between things we imagine and things we actually experience. This is why when we remember a scary or stressful event or watch an unpleasant News story we experience sensations such shallow breathing, tightness in the chest or tightening stomach. Your subconscious mind constantly communicates with all of the cells in your body, and the cells, in turn, communicate with your subconscious mind. So when we continually replay unpleasant events in our minds (or on our screens) we are feeding in to the stress feedback loop.
WHAT WE RESIST PERSISTS
The more we try and push negative thoughts, emotions or physical sensations away or avoid them by distracting ourselves away from them the longer they will last and the more destructive they are likely to become.
In order to protect us evolution has left us with a “negativity bias” – in the words of Psychologist Dr. Rick Hanson “the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones.” In other words we obsess and then tell everyone when someone cuts us up on a roundabout but quickly forget when someone stops and lets us through in to traffic. We have a tendency to brush off compliments and dwell instead on any criticism. We need to deliberately practice absorbing our good experiences to form the new habit of A. noticing and B. appreciating what is already there for us.
Through cultivating a Mindful approach to life we are able to become more aware of who we are and how our minds work. We adopt attitudes and practice meditative techniques which are highly counter-intuitive to our Western competitive, goal orientated culture and by doing so we somehow create more choice for ourselves on a moment to moment basis.
“If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing. If we don’t really know where we are standing… We may only go in circles…”
― Jon Kabat-Zinn,