Frequently Asked Questions
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention, staying present and responding skilfully to what’s happening in our lives. It helps people manage their thoughts, feelings, behaviours and relationships with awareness and compassion, leading to greater well-being and appreciation, as well as more choice in how to meet challenges. Mindfulness is cultivated by a exploring a range of simple meditation practices and approaches to living, as taught on our courses. Our approach is based on the 'gold standard' mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course, which was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachussetts medical school, and has been used for over thirty five years to help with stress, anxiety, and chronic health problems, as well as to promote resilience and flourishing. The course also includes elements of Mindfulness-Based Cogntiive Therapy (MBCT), which was developed by Mark Williams, John Teasdale and Zindel Segal as a way of helping preventing relapse in people prone to depression. The MBCT course is based on MBSR, and the two courses are very similar. An extensive body of clinical research has consistently shown that this approach to teaching mindfulness is helpful for working with a wide range of conditions, as well as for optimising well-being, and it is now taught widely in healthcare, education, workplaces and other settings.
What happens on a mindfulness course or workshop?
Participants are introduced to simple meditation practices that can help us become more present to our experience, manage thoughts, emotions and body sensations more effectively, and develop helpful responses to stress. The practices include sitting meditation, body scanning and gentle mindful movement. There are also opportunities to share experiences of the practices in pairs and in the group, and some presentation and discussion of how mindfulness might be helpful in our daily lives. On a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, there is an initial 1.5 hour orientation session, followed by 8 weekly sessions lasting 2.25 hours each, and a one-day (6hrs) retreat towards the end of the course. You are also invited to practice at home each day during the course (approx 45 mins a day). Our one-day workshops offer an introduction to mindfulness and a chance to experience some of the practices taught on an MBSR course.
Where does the course come from?
The course we teach is based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, as well as the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course, developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale at the Universities of Cambridge and Toronto. The two approaches are very closely related. The MBSR course has been used for over thirty years to help with anxiety, chronic health problems, and general well-being. The MBCT course was developed more specifically to help prevent relapse among people with a history of depression, and is now also now being offered more widely, for people with other conditions and to non-clinical populations.
Is a mindfulness course suitable for my current circumstances?
The course is designed for people who want to find ways of working with stress more effectively and increase their overall well-being and awareness. It gently encourages moving towards experiences (including difficulties) in order to be work with them more skilfully, and this can be challenging as well as rewarding. If you have mental health problems such as current depression, or are in a period of major life challenge such as recent bereavement, an MBSR course may not be right for you at this time. We ask participants to complete a short confidential questionnaire and attend an orientation session prior to starting a course. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss your circumstances.
I am concerned that I may not be flexible enough for the 'movement' or 'sitting' practices.
The movement parts of our courses and workshops are very gentle. Participants are encouraged to work within their physical limitations, whatever these may be. We offer a range of options for finding a comfortable sitting posture (eg chairs or cushions) and can work with individual circumstances to help you find what works best for you.
Do I need any special equipment or clothing?
We will provide all equipment and course materials. We recommend that you wear loose clothing to the sessions.
Can I join an MBSR course part-way through?
New participants cannot join part-way through an MBSR course. The course is experiential in nature and it is important that the group is consistent. If spaces are available it is sometimes possible for participants to join after the initial orientation session subject to an individual orientation taking place over the phone.
I am not sure if I have time for the 'homework' part of a course.
We appreciate everyone has busy lives but you will not get as much out of an MBSR course if you are not committed to the daily homework (approx 45 minutes) that we invite you to undertake during the course. We will provide CDs and other course materials to guide you in your home practice. Please talk to us if you have concerns about this.
I am concerned about being in a group situation.
It is not unusual to be concerned about working in a group. We try to create a safe and confidential environment for everyone to explore and share their experiences. There is no pressure to share in the group if you do not wish to and we invite you to notice and work within your own safety zone.
What is the maximum number of participants in a group?
For our courses and workshops we currently take a maximum of 16 participants.
Is there an minimum age limit on your courses/workshop?
Yes, participants must usually be 18 years old or over to attend our events. We are willing to consider mature 16- or 17-year-old participants on our one-day workshops, if accompanied by an adult. Please contact us for a discussion about this if you would like to attend a workshop with your 16- or 17-year-old.
What happens on the retreat day of the MBSR course?
The all-day retreat is an extended opportunity to practice and deepen what is being learned on the course. People often say it is one of the most valuable parts of the experience. If you are unable to make the retreat day for your course, it is possible to attend an alternative retreat day for any other 8-week course that we run in London or Cuckfield, West Sussex (less than an hour's journey from Central London). Please contact us for more details about this
I cannot make all the weekly course dates. Can I still attend?
We do appreciate that it can sometimes be difficult to make it to all the sessions of a course. If it is not possible to attend all of them, we recommend that you try not to miss more than one. We offer regular courses. Please feel free to talk to us about your circumstances.
Do you offer concessionary or sponsored rates?
We offer concessionary rates for those whose financial circumstances mean that they are unable to afford the course. Please contact us if you would like to apply for a concessionary rate.
I don't have / want a PayPal account, can I still pay online?
We use PayPal to manage all our online payments but you do not need a PayPal account. If you would like to pay directly by credit / debit card then please scroll down when you get to the PayPal payment page during the booking process. Below the PayPal log in section you will see a link to pay by credit / debit card which is called 'Check out as guest'. Click on this and you can then enter your payment details without an account. Alternatively, please contact us if you would like to use another payment method.
How do I train to teach mindfulness?
If you are looking to teach mindfulness we recommend that you take an 8-week course in the first instance and develop your own personal practice over a period of time. You can then look at one of the accredited teacher trainings such as Bangor, Oxford or Exeter Universities or The Sussex Mindfulness Centre. A good starting place is to look at the UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teacher Training Organisations and ensure any training you receive is from an accredited teacher.
What is the evidence that mindfulness is helpful?
Over the past few decades, trials of MBSR and MBCT have shown that mindfulness-based approaches are effective in managing stress, anxiety, and depression, and can help improve people's relationships, sharpen attention and aid emotional balance. MBCT is recommended by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) for those who have had several episodes of depression, as it has been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of future relapse.
Mindfulness-based approaches have also been shown to empower and reduce symptom perception among patients with physical health problems, including chronic pain, cancer, and gastrointestinal disorders, as well as improving immune system functioning.
What do you offer once an MBSR course has finished?
We are committed to offering ongoing space and support for former course participants to practise mindfulness. We run regular graduate practice sessions and day retreats in West Sussex for those that have completed an MBSR course, as well as residential graduate weekend retreats in Surrey.