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Public Course: Introduction to Mindfulness. Starts June 13th in Dartford

May 3, 2019

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Summer, before the school holidays, can be a good time to get acquainted with mindfulness practice and its benefits. Summer evening sessions are particularly relaxed and positive, because it’s warm and it’s light outside. As ever this will be a gentle introduction to mindfulness. I have drawn on several years of working with groups in Dartford, and on public domain content from key thinkers such as Prof John Kabat-Zinn and Prof Mark Williams, to shape the public ‘Practically Mindful’ course.

As an associate of mindfulness teaching networks such as Potential Project, my ‘day job’ is teaching their mindfulness programmes in the workplace, for clients – many of whom are household names. However, as Dartford is my home town, I teach this public course for fees which are a fraction of what employers pay for similar training of this kind. I think about 100 people have now completed my courses 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, usually at weekly intervals, with home practice in between using audio downloads/podcasts. There is also a printed course pack.

More info below . Both the practical stuff, and answers to the questions I am most often asked about the course. But 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, please be sure to read my “Important Note” below.
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Detailed Course Dates and Times:
Thursday 13th June, 7:30pm-8:30pm, then each of the following three Thursdays at the same time [i.e. June 20th and 27th, and July 4th. Then a two week gap to the wrap-up session on 18th July]. 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:
Dartford Science and Technology College (DSTC). Heath Lane. Dartford. DA1 2LY
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Cost:
£60 for the whole of the five week course including sessions, printed notes and audio downloads.
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[16-18 yr olds – £26. Returning participants from previous courses wanting a refresher – £26. Other concessions, case by case.]
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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.
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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.
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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 this 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.
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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 thoughts and actions can just bundle us through the day on a kind of ‘auto-pilot’. Mindfulness offers an alternative to this – pausing more often and making conscious decisions rather than just reacting.
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The results include reduced stress, better focus on one thing at a time, a clearer mind and better interaction with other people. These changes may, in turn, 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’.
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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.
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“Nick, you say that you mainly teach mindfulness in the workplace. So is this just a work thing?”
No. There are many good reasons for teaching mindfulness in the workplace, but the techniques and skills are applicable to all aspects of life, and to everyone. I always adapt my approach for each audience – anyone can learn and practice these techniques, for a few minutes a day, and feel the benefit.
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What actually happens on the course?
The course is informal, welcoming and fun – but also purposeful. 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. We will reflect, 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!
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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 my voice.
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There is a printed course pack which summarises the sessions, points you to other resources and suggests ways of continuing the Mindfulness habit.
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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 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:
DSTC is accessed from the entrance in Heath Lane and there is ample free parking. On foot, if you continue to follow the slope down from the car park, you will find some steps and signage for Reception.

Approaching Difficulty

April 11, 2019

Beginner’s Mind

February 14, 2019

shadowman

Two-dimensional
Shadow Man
Enjoying a sunny walk
across the shadow
tree bridge

Stops
and waves
hesitantly to me

I know what he is
(I think)

But what does he
think of me?

A mere projection
from his realm
into the theoretical…
Third Dimension?

Or an Angel
standing in the sun?
To bring him into being

Mindfulness of Thoughts (Shorter Version)

January 8, 2019

Mindfulness of Thoughts (Longer Version)

December 6, 2018

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