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Mindfulness – open introductory course for Dartford. Begins Thursday January 18th

December 5, 2017

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Another course! And so nice already to have people waiting for it to be announced, or making word-of-mouth inspired queries about when there will be another one. Even better is that we now have free monthly ‘Drop-In’ sessions for people who have attended my past courses. This allows people to share experiences, request and try new things, or get the support and motivation to re-start after a gap in their practice. It marks the very beginning of a little mindfulness community in Dartford. Something I’ve long hoped to cultivate.

So… in January we start another gentle 5-session introduction to Mindfulness based on a workplace course developed by Mindfulness at Work. As on each past occasion, they 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.

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Course Dates and Times:
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Thursday 18th January at 7:30pm, then each of the following four Thursdays at the same time [January 25th and 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.
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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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£60 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]
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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 packs to prepare.
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I can take payment at, or immediately after, 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.

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.
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What is Mindfulness?
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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.
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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 in turn can improve your physical health, by reducing the damage that stress can do to our heart, circulatory system, immune system and digestion. More generally, it 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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“Mindfulness at Work”… so is this just a work thing?
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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.
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What happens on the course?
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The course is informal, welcoming and fun – but also purposeful. The sessions use Explanation, Experience and Enquiry. I will explain 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, and discussing, together 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 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, if you are in the mood, some time that day.
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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???
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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, should 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 one is something many of us forget to have.
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Other details:
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I can give people other information when they sign up but, just in case.
There is parking nearby in the Market Place (by Iceland), Market  Street (alongside the park), Overy Street, Acacia Hall (gates close 9pm) and Darenth Road. Many of these are free after 6:30pm. 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.
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Any suggestions or questions please contact me via the methods given above.

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