Mindfulness is about present-moment awareness as opposed to automatic or habitual ways of experiencing life.
How would carers benefit from attending this course?
This course helps carers to develop a different relationship with the circumstances they find themselves in and new skills to deal with them. This way, experiences become less overwhelming and carers can remain steady through ups and downs of life as a caregiver.
What are the benefits?
People who successfully complete the entire course, and take part in the exercises as directed, typically experience:
- A better understanding of stress and helpful ways of responding to it
- Reduced worry, anxiety and low mood
- Enhanced emotional control, resourcefulness, and resilience
- A greater capacity for relaxation and calmness
- Improved self-confidence and creativity
- Improved communication and relationships
- Better sleep quality
- More effective use of time and productivity
- A greater motivation to maintain a routine of physical exercise like walking or stretches
What does the course involve?
This is an experiential course. This means that during the course carers are encouraged to try out different mindfulness exercises akin to meditation both during the session and at home. By the end of the course they can decide which practices work best.
Please note that this is not a relaxation drop-in class or group therapy. Although, the course is psycho-educational in nature, i.e. it will help carers to understand better their states of mind and emotions.
Each week of the course has a theme:
- Week 1 – What One Resists Persists
Much of our stress is exacerbated by our resistance to unpleasant experience, and what we resist tends to persist. So we are caught in a trap: the more we resist the more it persists! This session helps to explore how we can develop new ways to relate to our experience. It will help to understand how to lighten our load considerably, allowing us to get on with our life quite happily, even though it’s not completely sorted. (And will it ever be?)
- Week 2 – Coming to Our Senses
When we’re stressed we naturally try to do something about it, and this usually entails thinking – problem-solving. This can quickly escalate into over-thinking the situation we are in. This thinking never stops – not even at night! This session helps to explore our thinking habits that keep us in a stressful mode and are counter-productive. An important aspect of mindfulness practice is to learn to pay more attention to details of our experience which often go unnoticed included messages from our senses – body sensations, sounds, sights, tastes, etc.
- Week 3 – A Penny for Your Thoughts
Continuing from last week session, we’ll consider which type of thoughts are one of the main causes of stress and trapping us in a loop. But what to do? We can’t just stop thinking! One of the skills you’ll learn is to notice thoughts as they arise in your mind and let them go. This is a liberating insight for people who attend the course.
- Week 4 – Your Buttons Don’t Have to be Pressed
Life, as you know, isn’t easy. Caring responsibilities, financial worries, communication issues and difficulties in our relationships with people care for, other family members and friends. These are some of the issues experienced by care-givers. Mindfulness doesn’t make everything nice and smooth and easy. Rather, it enables us to develop skills and inner resources to cope better. Some people learn to flourish – in the midst of the sometimes difficult and messy aspects of life? This week you will have the opportunity to explore what is like to not allowing certain situations to ‘press our buttons’.
- Week 5 – The Pleasure of Small Things
Not that life is unremittingly difficult either! There’s pleasure, enjoyment, beauty and love out there too. However, carer-givers need to quickly spot well things are not going. This can become so habitual that we forget that good things are happening too! This is so after long periods of illness and difficulties. On this week of the course you will exploring widening your gaze a little?
- Week 6 – The Tender Gravity of Kindness
In a way the word mindfulness gives a wrong impression. People often associate the mind with the head, with the brain, with cool, analytical thought. In this session, we are exploring how mindfulness is not about being cool and detached, but more about stepping back through gentle awareness of the situation.
- Week 7 – Meanwhile the World Goes On
When we – or people around us – are having a hard time it’s easy to become preoccupied with pain and suffering. Is this part of the trap we find ourselves in? How to develop a new way of relating to such experience that can effect your state of mind and body?
- Week 8 – Let Life Live Through You
On the final week of the course we review everything we’ve learned and practiced, and we look to the future. The course only works to the extent that we practice. Now that we’ve come to the end of the course, how will carers continue to practice and continue to benefit from it? We discuss ways of keeping inspired and reviving our inspiration when it flags. And we encourage you to look after ourselves in the future. This isn’t ‘selfish’, it’s sensible. After all, if you’re going to be any help to others, you have to be in pretty good shape yourself!
Each week we introduce a practice or develop one that you’ve learned previously.
- The Body Scan, which helps us to pay attention to the various sensations in the body.
- The Mindfulness of Breathing where we rest our awareness on the sensations of the breath entering and leaving the body.
- Mindful Movement, which is a kind of moving meditation. Simple stretches, not so much to get fit as to really pay attention to what each movement feels like.
- The Kindness Meditation, which helps to manage self-criticism. If you can never live up to your high expectations, will you ever be able to relax? Research has shown that being strongly self-critical does not help us to change for the better.
- One Small Thing. In addition to the more formal practices listed above, each week we introduce a small – ‘micro’ – practice that you can do in the midst of your everyday life.
“We can’t always choose what happens to us or how other people behave, but we can learn to have more choice in how we respond to life’s events”.
What are the course requirements?
Carers will be invited to:
- Attend all 2-hour weekly sessions
- Participate in group discussions, practical exercises, and guided meditations
- Establish a daily practice, which will include formal exercises like seated meditations, moving meditations, simple stretches and walking – and will entail listening to audio files for at least 20 minutes a day
- Read hand-outs and fill in logs and take them to the sessions – if possible