What to expect from the sessions?
Describing mindfulness sessions and what to expect from the course.
“Is mindfulness right for me?”
In a typical mindfulness session, you sit in a circle with other students, and engage in exercises, discussions and meditations. The atmosphere is always friendly and relaxed, and you can always choose whether to participate in any activity. The meditations are secular mindfulness meditation, possibly choosing to close your eyes, and participating as much or as little as you wish. You may want to meditate lying down (so bring a scarf, shawl or mat if you wish). Please consider whether you would find this kind of group challenging. For example, if you are suffering from mental illness or close recent bereavement, might you feel overwhelmed by your own emotions? Could this be hard for you in a group setting? If you are not sure, please check out this document: Is Mindfulness Right for Me, Just Now? If you are still unsure after reading this document, feel free to email me: Email Elizabeth.
Do I have to attend all the sessions?
You can drop in to any of the sessions, as you wish. Of course, attending the sessions is key to benefitting from them. Essentially, research has shown that you experience most benefit by practising mindfulness and meditation regularly over several weeks. Students find a significant increase in their ability to calm and relax, more energy for focus and attention, and increased emotional regulation and perspective (see testimonials). So yes, it is helpful to attend all the sessions if you can. However, if you miss a session, you can continue on your own with your home practice, and other resources. If you find it difficult or painful to practice, this will often be solved by discussing the problems with your meditation teacher. The original eight-week course has now been divided into six sessions, or into two stand-alone four-week courses, to make it easier to attend: Mindfulness for Grounding and Resilience and Mindfulness for Confidence and Self-Compassion. If your College offers both courses, you can attend the whole eight-week course by signing up for both courses (in either order).
What if I miss a session?
If you miss a class, please don’t worry. You can read the course materials for that session and catch your teacher at the next class with any queries. However, before you sign up we ask you to consider whether you can attend at least most of the course.
How many people are on the course?
Group sizes vary. We usually offer 20 places on these courses. Within the sessions, you work in pairs or small groups, which gives you the chance to interact with fellow classmates in smaller numbers.
Do I have to talk about my own experience?
Other than introducing yourself at the start, there is no pressure to contribute. You will be asked to consider and reflect on your experience, but it is always your choice what you share out loud. Some people find it helpful to interact, others prefer to reflect and observe, and learn best that way. It is good to know your own learning style, and trust that.
Is there any ‘homework’?
The courses usually include ‘home practice’ – designed to sustain and nourish you, as well as to build your skills and understanding of mindfulness.
Audio meditations are highly recommended: Audio and Visual Resources . Or feel free to use ones that you enjoy, if they seem compatible with the course
Background reading is also recommended, yet optional: Course Reading. As an overview, for the 4-week courses, we use the popular book:
- Mindfulness: a Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, by Mark Williams and Danny Penman (Piatkus, 2011).
My own ‘Gentle Guides’ to meditation offer another approach, with an easy and creative page-a-day approach:
- Journeys to the Deep: A Gentle Guide to Mindfulness Meditation.
- Into the Flow: A Gentle Guide to Mindfulness Meditation (forthcoming December 2023)
- Oceans Within: A Gentle Guide to Mindfulness Meditation (forthcoming Summer 2024)