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Mindfulness Connected – Mark Leonard

November 5, 2018

I am taking a few moments to write a very brief appreciation of Mark Leonard and his work to use mindfulness training as a catalyst for team building and workplace cultural change.

Over the years I have only managed to grab the odd face to face conversation with Mark at conferences, and then to exchange a few mails or social media comments. But I have always been struck by his conviction that mindfulness, thoroughly blended with work on organisational culture, can [my paraphrase – I apologise] be tough on stress and and tough on the causes of stress.

As a member of the Potential Project organisation you would think that I would regard Mark as a “competitor”. Not least because Potential Project also seeks to effect changes to workplace culture by working with some of the world’s most senior business leaders [ see The Mind of the Leader ] and also because we teach mindfulness to people in the context of their team or business. But we also have the concept of co-creators. These are people who see the same potential (sic) for mindfulness and who are advocating it not just as their business, but because they see it as one of the most powerful change agents available to us, in a difficult world. I definitely see Mark as a co-creator. [ I also see this, by the way, in the charity that is the Mindfulness in Schools Project ]

Mark was involved in establishing the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, within Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University, and in bringing the seminal ‘Frantic World’ mindfulness course into the workplace. I then watched with admiration when Mark founded mindfulness4change.org and made explicit his manifesto for mindfulness as an agent of organisational and social change – going on to found Mindfulness Connected.

Mark’s subsequent work with staff at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH) has become a case study for the concept of teaching ‘Group Mindfulness’. I was fortunate to see a presentation at the 2017 Mind and Matter conference by Mark, his team, and the team at the ROH that he had worked with . This included videos from other ROH team members. It painted a striking picture of the ‘virtuous circle’ between the value to the individuals of learning mindfulness as members of a group, and the value to the team/Department of being influenced by mindfulness. All in a very practical and robust way.

I think Mark is one of the leading voices currently advocating mindfulness as social change – and the scope for mindfulness teaching, and practice, to become a social movement in the UK and, indeed, in the West. It is a courageous position to take, in an ultimately  commercial environment. Tune in to Mark. Whether you ultimately agree or disagree with him, or his approach, he will challenge and develop your relationship with mindfulness… as a teacher or as a practitioner.

Body Scan (X-Ray)

November 3, 2018

Mindfulness of Breathing

November 3, 2018

Taking a short pause

November 3, 2018

It’s back! Does that make it a ‘#retweetup’? Come and try the #dartfordtweetup, Wednesday 6th June. Malt Shovel, Dartford 7:30pm

May 14, 2018

A few years ago I tried out something called the Dartford Tweetup. It was a bit of a shot in the dark. I’d previously seen groups of people, who had been talking on Twitter about some shared interest or other, brought together in face to face meetings all around the world. These were called ‘tweetups’ and most often took the form of business networking events.

But when I saw lots of people tweeting about life and changes in Dartford, many of whom had never met each other face to face, I thought the same thing might work for that.

The result was quite a lot of pub-based gatherings, about a month apart – varying from big turnouts to a small band of ‘usual suspects’… me included. During the short life of the Dartford Matters blog I teamed up with the editors and re-christened it ‘Dartford Natters’. [Yeah – I know. But I think that did attract a few people who had previously found the whole ‘tweetup’ idea a bit nerdy]. Then Dartford Living started running the ‘Dartford Living Live‘ events and I thought that the inclusion of voluntary organisations might make the #dartfordtweetup a bit surplus. So the tweetup twittered out.

But it seems everyone, including the guys at Dartford Living, think there’s room for both.

So here’s the proposition. If you are interested in community activities and new developments or change in Dartford, if you are one of the people who keeps local social media groups going, if you run a voluntary organisation or project in the area, or if you just want to meet other people with those interests – come and give it a try.

7:30pm at the Malt Shovel in Dartford on Wednesday June 6th. A couple of hours of informal chat and a few drinks. No agenda, no proceedings, no record, no public speaking… just unhurried conversations and new connections.

If it’s a success, I’ll fix up another – maybe every two months?

NB: Although I have become a member of Dartford Labour Party since the last lot of tweetups, these occasions are and always were intended not to be a big ‘P’ party-political thing. Though if conversations touch on important local topics, it’s likely to get small ‘p’ political. And the old #dartfordtweetups certainly attracted a few ‘twitter curious’ Councillors and candidates from several parties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mindfulness – open introductory course running in Dartford. Begins Thursday 12th July – 7:30pm

May 1, 2018

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These courses are now pretty frequent, but I think it’s going to be the first time in a while that I’ve run one in the midst of the summer – and primarily during the school holidays. Summer evening sessions tend to be particularly relaxed and positive, because it’s warm and it’s light outside.  As ever this will be a gentle introduction to mindfulness based on a workplace course developed by Mindfulness at Work, who have kindly agreed for me to use the ‘Mindfulness is Now’ [MiN] course, normally run for business clients. The fees are around a third of that usually charged to businesses for an identical course. I think about 100 people have now completed this course in Dartford. And a number keep returning for the free monthly “drop ins” to refresh and share their practice.

It’s a course of five 1hr sessions, each one week apart, with home practice in between. This is supported by audio downloads, e-mail prompts and a printed pack.

Lots of info below. Both the practical stuff, and also answers to questions I am often asked about the course. The latter really boil down to, “Yes, anyone can do this. It’s simple to do. It’s completely secular. It will make a difference to your life, possibly quite quickly. It’s based on workplace training, but is for everyone and applies everywhere. The sessions are always friendly and supportive. If you have a known diagnosis for, say, depression or anxiety, make sure you read my “Important Note” below.
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Detailed Course Dates and Times:
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Thursday 12th July, 7:30pm-8:30pm, then each of the following four Thursdays at the same time [i.e. July 19th and 26th, August 2nd and 9th]. The one hour sessions start at 7:30pm sharp, so please arrive in good time, particularly on the first evening.
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Location:
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Holy Trinity Church Hall and Cafe, High Street, Dartford. DA1 1DE. Access is via the cafe a few yards to the left of the main church doors.
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Cost:
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£70 for the whole of the five week course including sessions, printed notes, audio downloads and e-mail ‘daily prompts’.
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[16-18 yr olds – £20. Returning participants from previous courses wanting a refresher – £20. Other concessions, case by case.]
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How to sign up:
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Please e-mail me on nick[at]soshall.net or call/text me on 07958 516967 to reserve a place. Similarly, please get in touch if you want to find out more about me or the course. You can just turn up on the first night – but advance booking ensures you won’t miss out, and that I know how many printed packs to prepare.
.
I can take payment at the first session – by cash, cheque [payable to SoShall Consulting Ltd] or I can give you bank details for internet payment.
.
The course is not open to under-16s.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please also consult with your GP or other professional, before taking this course, if you are currently receiving help with a condition such as depression or anxiety. Mindfulness can be very helpful, but needs to be in conjunction with other interventions and support. Similarly, please consider seeking professional advice if you believe that you may be at risk of such a condition. This course is a gentle introduction, not therapeutic, and it should not be the first, or sole, resort for someone who feels they may be unwell.
.
.
.
What is Mindfulness?
.
Mindfulness is something that you do, something that you learn by practicing regularly and can then apply throughout your day. It’s a way of approaching life which helps you to focus on what’s happening right now, without judging or getting stuck in habits and assumptions. This is an antidote to mulling over what has happened in the past, or worrying about what might happen in the future. It helps us to obsess less about whether we are doing well, doing the right thing, look OK to other people or deserve to be happy. This course makes you aware of how our thoughts and actions can just bundle us through the day on a kind of ‘auto-pilot’. Mindfulness offers us an alternative – pausing more often and making conscious decisions rather than just reacting.
.
The results include reduced stress, better focus on one thing at a time, a clearer mind and better interaction with other people. These in turn may improve your physical health, by reducing the damage that stress can do to our heart, circulatory system, immune system and digestion. More generally, mindfulness can help you to be happier and to appreciate more of life’s minutes – rather than just fast forwarding to the next ‘good bit’.
.
A good description of Mindfulness can be found on the Frantic World Website. The authors Danny Penman and Mark Williams have had a leading role in developing Mindfulness in the UK, and I will tell you more about their books on the course. But here’s what they say about Mindfulness.
.
.

“Mindfulness at Work”… so is this just a work thing?
.
No. Mindfulness at Work are normally commissioned by employers to deliver this “MiN” course in the workplace – it has even won an award from the UK legal profession. The course pack reflects this workplace setting. But Mindfulness is applicable to all aspects of life, and to everyone. We always adapt the course for each audience – anyone can learn and practice these techniques, for a few minutes a day, and feel the benefit.
.
.
What happens on the course?
.
The course is informal, welcoming and fun – but also purposeful. The sessions use Explanation, Experience and Enquiry. You will learn what Mindfulness is, how it works, how to do practices, and how to apply Mindfulness to everyday life. I will also point you to other resources and activities you can use to keep going after the course finishes – because the purpose of the course is to help you start a habit that you can benefit from for the rest of your life. You will experience guided practices – typically 10 minutes – as I talk you though placing your attention on your breathing, or moving your attention around your body, and there are also other exercises to help demonstrate why Mindfulness helps. Enquiry is about reflecting together on what you experience during a practice and how your week has gone between sessions. This helps to reinforce your learning and to encourage others, or be encouraged by them, through sharing. Knowing that “it’s not just me” can be a big help!
.
You will be shown how to download audio tracks, which you can use on a mobile phone/tablet, PC or Mac, to do your practices during the week by listening to a trainer’s voice. You will also sign up for daily e-mail prompts which explain some of the applications of Mindfulness and suggest things you might try.
.
There is a printed course pack which summarises the sessions, points you to other resources and suggests ways of continuing the Mindfulness habit.
.
.
.
Is this a religion???
.
Mindfulness practices are very similar to some kinds of meditation. Meditation techniques can be found in many different religions around the world, particularly Buddhism, which seem to have evolved similar approaches to dealing with life. When modern Mindfulness was developed in the 1970s and 1980s it was deliberately made more secular, so that belonging to a particular religion, or indeed aversion to any religion, would not be a barrier to taking it up. Mindfulness is compatible with many religious principles – not least compassion towards others and towards yourself! That second is something many of us forget to have.
.
.
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Other details:
.

I can give people other information when they sign up but, just in case:
There is parking nearby in the Market Place (by Iceland), Overy Street, Acacia Hall (gates close 9pm) and Darenth Road. Many of these are free after 6:30pm. There is multi-storey car parking at the Orchards shopping centre £1 for 2 hours. Suface Parking by Aldi, at the Orchards, is free but only for 1.5 hours – which may be cutting things a bit fine. You don’t want to be worrying about getting back to your car throughout the session. Sainsburys, Instone Rd, car park is a little further away but is free after 7pm.
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Any suggestions or questions please contact me via the methods given above.

Mindfulness – open introductory course for Dartford. Begins Thursday April 19th

March 12, 2018

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Because of continuing demand for these local courses, I’m going to try to fit in four, rather than three, per year. So the next five session, weekly, course begins on Thursday 19th April at 7:30pm. As ever this will be a gentle introduction to Mindfulness based on a workplace course developed by Mindfulness at Work, who have kindly agreed for me to use the ‘Mindfulness is Now’ [MiN] course, normally run for business clients. The fees are around a third of that usually charged to businesses for an identical course. My aim continues to be to introduce as many people as possible in Dartford to the practice and benefits of Mindfulness. The timing of this particular course makes it a good one for those who are coming out of hibernation, after the cold days and dark evenings, and want to make new plans for the spring and summer.
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Detailed Course Dates and Times:
.
Thursday 19th April at 7:30pm, then each of the following four Thursdays at the same time [April 26th and May 3rd, 10th and 17th] February 1st, 8th and 15th]. The one hour sessions start at 7:30 sharp, so please arrive in good time, particularly on the first evening.
.
Location:
.
Holy Trinity Church Hall and Cafe, High Street, Dartford. DA1 1DE. Access is via the cafe a few yards to the left of the main church doors.
.
Cost:
.
£70 for the whole of the five week course including sessions, printed notes, audio downloads and e-mail ‘daily prompts’.
.
[16-18 yr olds – £20. Returning participants from previous courses wanting a refresher – £20]
.
.
.
How to sign up:
.
Please e-mail me on nick[at]soshall.net or call/text me on 07958 516967 to reserve a place. Similarly, please get in touch if you want to find out more about me or the course. You can just turn up on the first night – but advance booking ensures you won’t miss out, and that I know how many printed packs to prepare.
.
I can take payment at the first session – by cash, cheque [payable to SoShall Consulting Ltd] or I can give you bank details for internet payment.
.
The course is not open to under-16s.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please also consult with your GP or other professional, before taking this course, if you are currently receiving help with a condition such as depression or anxiety. Mindfulness can be very helpful, but needs to be in conjunction with other interventions and support. Similarly, please consider seeking professional advice if you believe that you may be at risk of such a condition. This course is a gentle introduction, not therapeutic, and it should not be the first, or sole, resort for someone who feels they may be unwell.
.
.
.
What is Mindfulness?
.
Mindfulness is something that you do, something that you learn by practicing regularly and can then apply throughout your day. It’s a way of approaching life which helps you to focus on what’s happening right now, without judging or getting stuck in habits and assumptions. This is an antidote to mulling over what has happened in the past, or worrying about what might happen in the future. It helps us to obsess less about whether we are doing well, doing the right thing, look OK to other people or deserve to be happy. This course makes you aware of how our thoughts and actions can just bundle us through the day on a kind of ‘auto-pilot’. Mindfulness offers us an alternative – pausing more often and making conscious decisions rather than just reacting.
.
The results include reduced stress, better focus on one thing at a time, a clearer mind and better interaction with other people. These in turn may improve your physical health, by reducing the damage that stress can do to our heart, circulatory system, immune system and digestion. More generally, mindfulness can help you to be happier and to appreciate more of life’s minutes – rather than just fast forwarding to the next ‘good bit’.
.
A good description of Mindfulness can be found on the Frantic World Website. The authors Danny Penman and Mark Williams have had a leading role in developing Mindfulness in the UK, and I will tell you more about their books on the course. But here’s what they say about Mindfulness.
.
.

“Mindfulness at Work”… so is this just a work thing?
.
No. Mindfulness at Work are normally commissioned by employers to deliver the MiN course in the workplace – it has even won an award from the UK legal profession. The course pack reflects this workplace setting. But Mindfulness is applicable to all aspects of life, and to everyone. We always adapt the course for each audience – anyone can learn and practice these techniques, for a few minutes a day, and feel the benefit.
.
.
What happens on the course?
.
The course is informal, welcoming and fun – but also purposeful. The sessions use Explanation, Experience and Enquiry. You will learn what Mindfulness is, how it works, how to do practices, and how to apply Mindfulness to everyday life. I will also point you to other resources and activities you can use to keep going after the course finishes – because the purpose of the course is to help you start a habit that you can benefit from for the rest of your life. You will experience guided practices – typically 10 minutes – as I talk you though placing your attention on your breathing, or moving your attention around your body, and there are also other exercises to help demonstrate why Mindfulness helps. Enquiry is about reflecting together on what you experience during a practice and how your week has gone between sessions. This helps to reinforce your learning and to encourage others, or be encouraged by them, through sharing. Knowing that “it’s not just me” can be a big help!
.
You will be shown how to download audio tracks, which you can use on a mobile phone/tablet, PC or Mac, to do your practices during the week by listening to a trainer’s voice. You will also sign up for daily e-mail prompts which explain some of the applications of Mindfulness and suggest things you might try.
.
There is a printed course pack which summarises the sessions, points you to other resources and suggests ways of continuing the Mindfulness habit.
.
.
.
Is this a religion???
.
Mindfulness practices are very similar to some kinds of meditation. Meditation techniques can be found in many different religions around the world, particularly Buddhism, which seem to have evolved similar approaches to dealing with life. When modern Mindfulness was developed in the 1970s and 1980s it was deliberately made more secular, so that belonging to a particular religion, or indeed aversion to any religion, would not be a barrier to taking it up. Mindfulness is compatible with many religious principles – not least compassion towards others and towards yourself! That second is something many of us forget to have.
.
.
.
Other details:
.

I can give people other information when they sign up but, just in case:
There is parking nearby in the Market Place (by Iceland), Overy Street, Acacia Hall (gates close 9pm) and Darenth Road. Many of these are free after 6:30pm. There is multi-storey car parking at the Orchards shopping centre £1 for 2 hours. Suface Parking by Aldi, at the Orchards, is free but only for 1.5 hours – which may be cutting things a bit fine. You don’t want to be worrying about getting back to your car throughout the session. Sainsburys, Instone Rd, car park is a little further away but is free after 7pm.
.
.
Any suggestions or questions please contact me via the methods given above.