8 week Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course
Mindfulness benefits us in four ways: body awareness, self-awareness, regulation of emotion and regulation of attention.
Research into the neural effects of taking an 8 week mindfulness course found that after 8 weeks participants showed brain changes similar in nature to those seen in people who had meditated for a life time.
Rinske Gotink and her colleagues used 30 relevant studies that used MRI or fMRI brain imaging to look at the effects of mindfulness training on brain structure and function, including 13 randomly controlled trials. The changes that these studies found in brain activity and behaviour all appear to be consistent with the idea that mindfulness helps your brain regulate your emotions. To read the research click here
To get these benefits does not require dedicating hours to meditation. Ten minutes a day is enough. University of Pennsylvania research into how mindfulness could improve thinking under stress used a group of marines prior to deployment into Iraq. They found that those practicing for ten minutes a day or more were able to maintain their mental abilities under stress, whereas those who did it less than ten minutes or the control group could not. A separate study taught mindfulness to psoriasis patients, often associated with stress, resulting in a four times faster recovery than the control group
Here are a few other areas a short mindfulness course has been found to help
Improved focus and attention and ability to withstand stress: Wake Forest University researched how four 20-minute mindfulness sessions could have a beneficial effect on cognitive abilities. The mindfulness practitioners performed significantly better than the control group at maintaining attention and performed especially well at stressful tasks under pressure.
Recovery from Addiction: Yale School of Medicine found that 20 minutes of mindfulness training per day was more effective in helping smokers quit than the currently approved treatment of choice recommended by the American Lung Association. Over four weeks there was a reduction of 90% in the number of cigarettes smoked, from 18 to 2 per day. With 35% quitting entirely. After 4 months 30% were still not smoking.
Reduction in anxiety:University of Massachusetts Medical School found that after attending an 8-week course specific to generalized anxiety disorder 90% of the participants reported significant reductions in anxiety. This was supported by research from Stanford University, which found that activity in the anxiety center in the brain – the amygdala – was reduced by those practicing mindfulness.
Pain management: Wake Forest University research found that four 20-minute sessions of mindfulness reduced pain sensitivity by 57%, a greater amount than that achieved by morphine. University of Manchester research found that the more meditation the subject had done the less they experienced pain and they found less neural activity in the anticipation of pain than in the controls. It seems this may be due to mindfulness aiding the ability to be present in the moment rather than worry about the future.
Emotional stability: Regular meditation has also been found to benefit emotional stability through its effect on the hippocampus.
Increased immune response: University of Wisconsin-Madison research injected the flu virus at the end of an eight week mindfulness course and found that participants had a stronger immune system compared to the control group.
Relaxation:Mindfulness activates the ‘rest and digest’ part of our nervous system, and increases blood flow to parts of our brains that help regulate our emotions, such as the hippocampus, the anterior cingulate cortex and the lateral parts of the prefrontal cortex. Our heart rate slows, respiration slows and blood pressure drops. A Harvard researcher named this the ‘relaxation response’.
Anti-aging: University of California, Davis, research found a higher level of telomerase after a three-month retreat. This enzyme, linked to longevity, is found in those who live to over 100 and it seems that mindfulness helps to strengthen it. The natural decline and degradation of telomerase leads to the damaging of DNA which causes ageing. Think of it as being like the plastic on a show string that stop sit from fraying. When the plastic breaks the shoe string starts to fray. In the same way when the telomerase degenerates the DNA starts to be impacted. For a detailed discussion of the search into this click here
The last places are now available on the 8 week MBCT mindfulness course starting on Thursday 3rd May. Contact me to book your place.
This is a closed group of up to 16 people. Particpants commit to attending all of the sessions so we quickly build up a sense of trust and connection.
June: 7th, 14th, 21st
Silent practice day. Date to be confirmed.
Chadswell Healthy Living Centre
Lower Ground Floor, Chadswell
£295 (£200 concessions for unwaged, students and those in need)
Booking confirmed on receipt of full payment.
To book email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Call: 07910 224 560
Or use the contact form at the bottom of this page to book or make any enquiries.
I have been teaching this course since 2012, below are a few testimonials from previous participants:
“For me you made Mindfulness real and human, related to the pain, feelings of not belonging , of isolation or inadequacy that we may feel in life and then taught me how through Mindfulness I could have a choice and freedom from suffering.
My thoughts or the emotions they stir within me do not have to control me or dictate who I am, or have become, I have the choice to see them for what they are just passing thoughts that come and go like sensations in my body, I can notice them but from a distance and not let them consume me and all that I could be in life. Meeting you and having you for my tutor in Mindfulness has been hugely life changing for me.”
Sandra (2016 course participant)
‘Throughout the course, Nick provided participants with a series of meditation tools including body scanning, guided meditation and group discussion, all of which are very useful for applying in everyday life.
I found Nick’s mindfulness course to be exceptionally beneficial for helping me to manage my anxiety. Given my positive experience,
I have been recommending this course to anyone who is looking to slow down, focus and regain balance in their life’
Ashley (Autumn 2015 course participant)
This course was very powerful and has been life changing. It has really helped me to focus on the ‘Here and now’ rather than getting caught up in ruminative thinking. I have a tendency to worry about the future and about events that have not yet occurred and this was making me feel very stressed. Applying the techniques and mindfulness strategies I learnt on the course I feel better able to cope and although I still feel anxious this tends to diminish more quickly.
Kensington Council 8 week course participant, 2016
I have become more aware of my surroundings and am really noticing the world. I feel that I have clearer vision and am appreciating the little things in life. I have really slowed down and realise how much I missed by rushing.
Kensington Council 8 week course participant, 2016
Finding the venue:
The Chadswell Healthy Living Centre is a 6 minute walk from Kings Cross station.
Nick has over 25 year’s experience of mindfulness practice. Initially learning to meditate when he was 20 by attending the Cambridge Buddhist Centre he then set up the University of Hull meditation society whilst an undergraduate. On graduating Nick moved into a Buddhist community in Cambridge. After three years of urban community life Nick ordained at a UK based Buddhist monastery and lived there for 6 years as a Buddhist monk.
After leaving the monastery and moving to London in 2004 Nick set up a weekly meditation group in 2009 that now attracts up to 40 member every Monday, and in 2012 completed the teacher training course for MBCT.
Nick draws on his background in Buddhist training to offer a fully secular mindfulness course for people living in the hectic modern world. This unique combination of years of rigorous monastic training with a full understanding of the stresses of life in the working world makes Nick’s courses a powerful bridge between the wisdom of an ancient tradition and the simplicity of modern secular mindfulness without any additional need for ritual or dogma.
Apart from week 1 each evening starts with a guided mindfulness of breathing meditation. The summary below shows what additional meditations are taught each week. This format is subject to slight changes and alterations
Meditation:Body scan meditation – learning to place our attention in the body.
Theme: Auto pilot. The mind often follows habitual routes of thinking. Through practicing mindful breathing we can start to notice thoughts and learn to disengage our attention from those that are repetitive and lead to negative moods.
Meditation: Body scan and Mindfulness of Breathing
Theme: What is mindfulness? A discussion drawing on your experience form the previous week.
Meditation 1: Meditating on sounds – rather than letting noises be a distraction in this meditation they are made the focus of your attention, observing them as volume, pitch and duration rather than allowing the mind to label them as pleasant or unpleasant.
Meditation 2: Mindful movement. Gentle movement exercises that allow you to practice bringing mindfulness to your experience as you move. This is important as it allows you to learn how to bring mindfulness in to an activity rather than see it as something you only do sitting with your eyes closed.
Theme: approach system versus avoidance system. We can approach a task in one of two ways and how we approach it has been found to have an effect on our creative abilities and sense of well being within the task and after it. An approach based attitude leads to more energy and problem solving abilities, whereas the avoidance mode shuts down creativity and even if the task is completed leaves you feeling depleted. The discussion this week looks at these two modes and how to use mindfulness to cultivate the more creative approach.
Meditation 1: sounds and thought. Just as sounds arise and fade away in the same way thoughts can be allowed to arise and pass away. This meditation reminds you to hold lightly to thoughts rather than allow them to dominate in the meditation.
Meditation 2: breathing space meditation. This is a short meditation which may be no more than 3 minutes long. It is often one that participants find most useful as it can be used at any point in the day as a a way of stopping and punctuating the flow of experience.
Theme: Fight, flight or freeze – a short discussion about the ancient mechanism that evolved to keep us safe at times of danger but that left unchecked can lead to ill health anddisease. Mindfulness is the means of turning this fear based survival instinct off when it is not needed and instead initiating the rest and recover mode which supports good health and recovery.
Meditation: Exploring difficulty meditation. Previously in the mindful breathing meditation the instruction was to gently guide attention back to the breath whenever you noticed it was caught up in thinking. This week we look at what to do when we notice we are caught up in difficult or fearful emotions or thoughts. Rather than analyzing or trying to find a solution, this approach encourages simply noticing what you are feeling in your body associated with the difficult thought or emotion. You can then imagine breathing into this sensation and allow the breath to hold it. This allows you to change your attitude to a difficult experience from wanting it to go to being willing to simply witness it.
Theme: Acceptance: being with difficulty rather than running from it or fighting it.
Meditation: Loving Kindness. This powerful practice enables us to explore relating to ourselves and others with an attitude of patient and loving attention.
Theme: Thoughts are not facts – seeing how thoughts can be like rumors: repeated often enough we may believe them even if they hold no truth!
Meditation: Walking meditation. Learning how to bring mindfulness in to a daily activity.
Theme: The exhaustion funnel. How negative thinking leads to a downward spiral and a discussion of CBT methods for engaging with thought so that you can regain control.
This week there is no new meditation or set theme. The time is used to meditate and discuss anything arising from participants experience of the course. The last part of the evening focuses on how to maintain practice after the course. Participant discuss in pairs what practices they found most helpful and how they intend to create a meditation routine away from the support of the 8 week course.