Eight Week Mindfulness Training Programme

Welcome to the Mindfulness Training Programme which has been structured as the standard Eight Week course combining aspects of the well established MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) Courses which are taught at University Level in the UK and elsewhere. These courses were established over thirty years ago by Jon Kabat-Zinn who founded the Centre for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

You can watch a short video of Jon introducing Mindfulness Practice on the Practice page of this website.

Jon Kabat-Zinn had been practising a Buddhist form of insight meditation and saw that this could be adapted into a programme that could be applied clinically to patients suffering from depression. He subsequently created the programmes MBSR and MBCT which have since been used widely in schools, prisons, hospitals, veteran centres and the health benefits have been clinically documented over three decades. These programmes are now established as part of the health service in National Health Systems in the UK and elsewhere.

Jon Kabat-Zinn defined Mindfulness in this way: "It is awareness that arises by the purposeful cultivation of paying attention moment-to-moment non-judgmentally."

John Teasdale, one of the co-founders of MBCT, described it as follows: "The essence of mindfulness is to be fully aware of our experience in each moment equally open to whatever it has to offer and free of the domination of habitual automatic cognitive routines that are often goal-oriented and, in one form or another, related to wanting things to be other than they are."

It is based on the premise that mind and body are intimately interconnected and it utilizes methods to optimize this relationship for improved health and well-being. Mindfulness based skills are taught that can be integrated into daily life to reduce stress, manage pain, enhance sleep, strengthen positive qualities, and improve the overall quality of life.

Needless to say Mindfulness, which is essentially a form of meditation having its roots in a two thousand five hundred year old Buddhist tradition of insight meditation practice, can also be much more than a stress reduction technique. In its more 'secularized' form it is recognized as a practice both empirical and pragmatic that facilitates a deeper connection with our thoughts, feelings and emotional states that liberates us from habitual forms of reactivity and the limitations of conditioned patterns of thinking and negative behavioural routines.

To engage with this programme of inquiry and meditation does not require any previous experience of meditation. The Practice, while proven to be efficacious in dealing with depression and in alleviating stress and other negative emotional afflictions, has much broader ethical implications. Once integrated as a practice into one's daily life it has been found to be genuinely transformative, and many have found their lives undergoing a radical shift in perspective as they become more open to compassion and willing to respond in new ways to the challenges of a world in crisis.

While dealing with stress and learning to address negative or unwholesome mental and emotional states remains a primary focus of this Mindfulness Course this broader ethical aspect is one I give positive emphasis to in the latter stages of the course, and is a primary motivation for teaching the course. For Mindfulness works at many levels and I see no reason to limit the practice to some levels to the exclusion of others. Everyone will adapt the practice to their own needs and concerns in their own time, but in presenting the course the intention is to provide the full range of possibilities from simple relaxation or dealing with afflictive states to freedom from suffering leading to full liberation of heart and mind and living with clarity, wisdom and compassion.

If you wish to enrol in an upcoming course please read the information below and follow the instructions for registering for the course.

In addition to the information provided on this page there is a brief introduction to Mindfulness Practice in the booklet which you can find by going to the Menu Page and clicking on "Mindfulness Booklet". If you wish you can download this pdf and save it in your system.

In addition to the above mentioned Booklet I have added another file which may be of interest: The Mindful Nation UK Report. This was launched in October 2015 by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to look into Mindfulness Practice and its potential benefits in the health, education and criminal justice sectors. It is worth reading this to see how much work has gone in to assessing the potential benefits of the practice for improved health and wellbeing in line with National Institute For Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines. You can download this file and save it. Here are some extracts from The Mindful Nation UK Report:

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness means paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment in the mind, body and external environment, with an attitude of curiosity and kindness. It is typically cultivated by a range of simple meditation practices, which aim to bring a greater awareness of thinking, feeling and behaviour patterns, and to develop the capacity to manage these with greater skill and compassion. This is found to lead to an expansion of choice and capacity in how to meet and respond to life’s challenges, and therefore live with greater wellbeing, mental clarity and care for yourself and others.

Typically mindfulness practice involves sitting with your feet planted on the floor and the spine upright. The eyes can be closed or rest a few feet in front while the hands are in the lap or on the knees. The attention is gently brought to rest on the sensations of the body - the feet on the floor, the pressure on the seat and the air passing through the nostrils. As the thoughts continue, you return again and again to these physical sensations, gently encouraging the mind not to get caught up in the thought processes but to observe their passage. The development of curiosity, acceptance and compassion in the process of patiently bringing the mind back is what differentiates mindfulness from simple attention training.

This practice can be held for a few moments as a breathing pause in the middle of a busy day, or for half an hour in a quiet place first thing in the morning.

 

Where does mindfulness come from?

Methods for training mindfulness have long been central to the contemplative traditions of Asia, especially Buddhism. Using these methods, but freeing them from any religious or dogmatic content, Jon Kabat-Zinn began teaching his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course (MBSR) to patients at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the late 1970s. Participants were introduced to a range of core mindfulness practices:

1. Sitting meditation, body-scanning with focused awareness.

2. Mindful movement exercises as a way to help them manage the pain  and stress of their medical conditions. They were also asked to commit to a daily practice using audio guides at home.

The class-based MBSR curriculum, of eight two-hour weekly sessions, remains at the core of several programmes that have been specifically adapted to deal with different clinical conditions and contexts. Most significant of these adaptations has been the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course which was developed by three scientists in the 1990s, as a way to help patients prone to depression by building resilience. MBCT includes basic education about depression and a number of exercises derived from cognitive therapy that demonstrate the links between thinking and feeling, and how best participants can care for themselves when they notice their mood changing or a crisis threatening to overwhelm them.

 

How does it work?

Both MBSR and MBCT are based on the premise that participants can train themselves, through the meditation practices and supporting psycho-educational training, to be more aware of, and less reactive and judgmental towards their thoughts, emotions and body sensations. Key elements of this include seeing thoughts as mental events rather than facts, learning how to work skilfully with automatic patterns of reacting to stress, developing capacity to notice and enjoy pleasant events in life, and cultivating a more unconditional kindness towards yourself and others.

This allows people to develop healthier, more compassionate responses to their own experience, as well as to events in their lives and the people around them. Regular meditation practice is considered helpful as a way of cultivating mindfulness. This allows people to develop healthier, more compassionate responses to their own experience, as well as to events in their lives and the people around them. Mindfulness is thus presented through such courses as a skill to be trained in, rather like learning a new language.

 

Findings of Research

Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) have been shown to improve health outcomes in a wide range of clinical and non-clinical populations.

MBIs showed “large and clinically significant effects in treating anxiety and depression, and the gains were maintained at follow-up.”

MBIs have also consistently been found to reduce self-reported measures of perceived stress, anger, rumination, and physiological symptoms, while improving positive outlook, empathy, sense of cohesion, self-compassion and overall quality of life.

Mindfulness training is associated with reduced reactivity to emotional stimuli as well as improvements in attention and cognitive capacities.

These may be some of the mechanisms by which health and wellbeing gains are made – by relating to thoughts, emotions, body sensations and events in life more skilfully, practitioners may be less drawn into unhelpful habitual reactions and more able to make good choices about how to relate to their circumstances.

 

PERSONAL TESTIMONIES

Comments by those attending Mindfulness Sessions which I facilitated at Aromatics Spa and Planet House.

"Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to experience and learn at DEEP CENTRE. These have been indeed very interesting and interactive sessions. I look forward to our next sessions."(Brenda, Physiotherapist)

"Thank you so much for the invitation. It was simply wonderful. I will bring some friends on Saturday.  I am glad to be part of this compassionate lot." (Chebet)

"It has been my pleasure. The sessions were also at an opportune time for me personally. I liked the connection I felt in the last session during the interactive session, that was neat! I also look forward to seeing how we can package this for corporates in the coming year."(Joyce, Manager AAR)

"The Mindfulness Practice has been really helpful to me, in terms of controlling anger, and fully feeling and experiencing emotions without letting them weigh me down. I have also been able to own my own feelings. This has improved my overall relationships with my family, friends and even strangers. Thank you." (Grace Njenga)

“Last year, after years of juggling family, travel and work abroad, I burned out. I’d heard of burn out but had no idea how debilitating it can be. It was as if my body decided to take matters into its own hands and, after months of struggling, came to a halt. I was exhausted, depressed, suffering from chronic back pain and panic attacks at the slightest sign of stress. I lost weight and couldn’t face food, but had to make myself eat every few hours just to function. Medical tests showed nothing was physically wrong; on paper I was fit and healthy, but in reality I was a wreck. The diagnosis was adrenal fatigue caused by chronic stress - or classic burnout. “The problem”, as my doctor put it succinctly, was “from the neck up”. My mind was the root of my problems, and the answer to their solution.

So started my journey into mind-body medicine, which led me to psychotherapy and mindfulness. On the recommendation of my psychotherapist, I signed up for David’s course in mindfulness-based stress reduction. It proved to be a lifesaver. I had no idea what mindfulness was, and although I’d done some meditation I didn’t understand its power or feel I was doing it right. After just a week I could already feel the benefits of the daily guided meditations we learned. I came to understand there is no right way or wrong way to meditate. I felt more at peace than I have in years. I looked forward to our Saturday afternoon sessions with their mix of teaching, philosophical and ethical insight, in-depth discussion and meditation. David’s decades of experience, knowledge and practice brought a unique depth to the sessions. This wasn’t “meditation light”; it was the real deal.

Mindfulness has given me peace of mind and tools to deal with the stresses of daily life. I no longer suffer from panic attacks or back pain, and my weight has normalized. Every day I look forward to the quiet time when I meditate, still my mind and relax. Mindfulness together with psychotherapy has given me my life back, and for that I’m eternally grateful.” (Rosalind Jackson, Greenpeace Activist)  

 

Testimonials from the Four Week Course facilitated at Hob House, Kitisuru over four Saturdays April-May 2018 (20 hours of group instruction and Home Practice exercises).

“Mindfulness training was an awakening experience in my life.  It brought to my attention the knowledge that I need to operate from the awareness of my thoughts, feelings and sensations, because all these interact and determine my present state. Mindfulness, I learnt, transforms life and that we have to let go of the past and its insecurities, blind spots and defenses, to be able to connect to the present and the emerging future. There is need at all times to be aware of the source of where I operate from and to be conscious and mindful.

I loved the poems and the insights used throughout the training, a special one that I will carry throughout my life is “I don’t have to hide the cracks, I have to make them shine”, this was really motivating. The meditation was awesome I clearly remember the sound of the bell and the RAIN meditation specifically was so refreshing, renewing, washing away fear, bringing freedom and enhancing one’s worth. This was powerful. I now have a tool that helps me pay attention to myself. This was a very awakening and insightful experience.

Learning to travel lighter in life without fear, anxiety, shame, shadows, boundaries and beliefs that impede our present day functioning was clearly elaborated….. I learned that anger, one of the negative emotions people struggle with, is not caused by other people but by our judgment. The insight that thoughts take on a reality they don’t have made me conclude that thoughts need not overpower and overwhelm me and since the heart is connected to the thought there is need to take care of the heart and listen to the body.

Mindfulness training has made me more committed to my work and I believe it will make me a better person as an individual, parent, teacher, trainer and counseling psychologist. I am happy that I have moved a step forward in my life and practice of counseling. I have so far used the seven attitudes (being aware, acceptance, letting go, patience, being in the present moment and trust of one’s worthiness) in my counseling sessions and it has been powerful. The conclusion of the training with what we need today: an open mind, an open heart and an open will, with a resolve to draw from a higher power, trust and love crowned it all. As a counseling psychologist many of the concepts in the training aligned with what I do, it was therefore very refreshing.

As a trainer David, was clear, gave relevant examples and explanations and was himself aligned to the present moment. He was committed all through to the training and the tenets of mindfulness and sent to us all the supporting documents for the homework.  I am very grateful that I had this opportunity, it was indeed worth the time. It was transformational and has given me the confidence to live a better and balanced life. Thank you David Beatty. At USIU Africa we greatly appreciate your effort.”

(Lucy Kungu, Head Student Counsellor, United States International University Africa, Kenya)

"I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude following the Mindfulness course. This was a life changing experience for me.

I have been very skeptical about meditation because I thought that it was an Eastern Religious practice, however after the first day at Hob House, things have been different. I am now quite at home with meditation. 

I am still struggling with the challenge of finding a specific time to meditate, but my constant Mindfulness experience that makes me conscious by choice have brought great relief to my life. I am finding it increasingly possible to get time out, in the course of my day, and focus on my breathing. 

The knowledge that even my pains are transient has helped me to focus on anything that I wish without being disabled. 

Thanks for taking time to educate us and being patient with me and my colleagues."

(Patrick Obel, Student Counsellor, United States International University Africa, Kenya)

“I attended David’s Mindfulness Program and learnt so much about myself and others. The program was amazing as it had a great balance of information, discussion and practice. During and after the course, I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation, which has helped me with my anxiety, confidence and focus. It has changed how I behave on a daily basis. It has really been life changing and I can’t thank him enough."

(Rekha Kent, UK Trained and Accredited Leadership Coach, Facilitator and Consultant, Redstone Consulting Ltd)

 

As the Mindfulness Course progresses and we nurture a more kindly, warm and intimate relationship with who we are we become more open to new possibilities that were previously occluded by our habitual patterns of thinking. Mindfulness Practice, while recognizing that the realm of possibility is ever present as human potential, is firmly rooted in a realistic approach that fosters insights grounded in experiential awareness of our actual condition, rather than wishful thinking. Thus the practice liberates by nurturing our innate capacity for creating a space of clarity disentangled from the automatized cognitive routines that often predetermine our actions or frustrate the realization of legitimate desires by not attending sufficiently to our motivations and to the nature of longing itself as an integral aspect of the Human Condition. This inevitably involves a process of inquiry into the sources of our conditioning, both internally and externally, and perceiving the links between them.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that nurtures a particular kind of attentiveness needed to comprehend the attitude in the mind with regard to present experience as it arises. It is an awareness we bring non-judgmentally to the inclinations of the mind in relation to experience and the actual nature of our motivations so that our actions are performed with lucidity and clear perception.

 

The Foundations of Mindfulness Practice

You might be considering engaging with this programme of Mindfulness Practice for a variety of reasons. Many people come to meditation programmes because there is something unsatisfactory in their lives. They may be suffering from stress, from overwork, or from various issues in their lives that are creating stressful conditions that at times seem overwhelming. They may be suffering from frequent periods of depression. They may come because they are having some kind of difficulty in their relationships. Or they may be suffering some kind of loss, for example grieving over the recent death of a loved one. Or they may be dissatisfied with their job, and be uncertain as to what step they should take next in their life, or feel they need to change their career but are afraid to take the first step. Or they may have achieved a certain satisfying level of material security, and feel generally happy with the progress of their lives but nevertheless they register a constant nagging sense of 'something that is missing', a lack, deficiency, or sense of dissatisfaction that haunts even their better moments.

The Standard Eight Week Course is structured around four modules so that we attend to each aspect of experience before moving on to the next. The modules are based loosely on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Practice:

1. The Body: In the first two weeks we will focus on being grounded in our bodies through giving attention to the breath. This is the most basic foundation level upon which all the other levels depend. We take our breathing for granted because it is an autonomic process, like our heart beat. By giving attention to our breathing we can cultivate a certain stillness from which we can observe the activities of our minds. We come to see how often we operate on what is known as the 'autopilot'. We will perform various exercises to nurture awareness of this, an awareness of bodily sensations, and awareness of bodily form.

2. Feelings: In weeks three and four we will focus attention on feelings, whatever arises in the present moment during sitting meditation: feelings of sadness, gratitude, melancholy, anger, joy or happiness, so we can experience whatever arises without clinging or suppressing. We will cultivate an attitude of non-judgmentalism towards whatever we are experiencing, and we will learn to discern between reacting and responding.

3. Mind: In weeks five and six the focus will broaden moving from guided meditations on breathing, sensations, sounds and feelings, to observation of mental formations, such as habitual thoughts and ideas that arise, and cultivate a non-judgmental awareness moment-to-moment without identification with the habitual narratives we have constructed in the past. We become aware less of the content of thoughts than of the act of thinking itself. We learn to recognize thoughts and emotions for what they are, as simply mental events.

4. Ethical Aspect: In the final two weeks we will conclude the course by reviewing to what extent the previous three modules have contributed to nurturing more wholesome attitudes over unwholesome attitudes, and the broader implications of this as we develop the art of living mindfully. We will focus on core values that each participant can nurture in their own lives. We will inquire into the applications of mindfulness in dealing with conflict. We will focus on recognizing stress indicators and the application of action strategies, on the need for acceptance and change, and the nurturing of self-compassion and compassion for all sentient beings through the practice of loving kindness meditation.

These are the four basic elements that form the foundations for Mindfulness Practice. But that is not all there is to it. Once these practices are well integrated into your daily life it is possible that this process will open up a world of possibilities. At presentations I give to introduce Mindfulness people often ask 'How long does it take?' One answer is that the basic course, outlined here, takes eight weeks, or shorter version four weeks. The other more accurate answer is 'The rest of your life!' In other words these are just the tools that you can use to adapt your way of living to your deepest existential needs, the tools that are available to dismantle our inherent tendency to become trapped in habitual automatized routines (including making Mindfulness Practice another routine habit that erodes its efficacy!) and to release the mind's creative power, and our innate capacity for nurture and for compassion. You may find that over time your own path to realizing your own goals through devotion to developing your particular skills or talents, which inevitably at first tends to be self-centered, yields to an expanding sense of concern for others beyond the immediate family circle, or even a deepening engagement with the urgent issues of social justice and ecological destruction referred to earlier in this introduction.

For a while there has been a contentious debate between social activists and those who engage with yoga and meditation primarily for personal devlopment. The activists have criticised those in the personal development camp as lacking concern for social injustice or ecological devastation, while the meditation camp has argued that the activists are often motivated by anger which perpetuates the system they claim to want to change. Activists too often suffer from 'burn-out' while meditation afficianados say they need to be fully 'liberated' before they can effect meaningful societal change. However the personal work can engage with social change simultaneously, each learning from the other, and this can be deeply enriching.

Joanna Macy in her Working to Reconnect model begins with the recognition that the pain and grief we feel at the injustices or environmental destrucion we are witness to occurs precisely because we are deeply interconnected with this web of life. Opening our selves to that and embracing grief we begin the transformative journey towards deep change, personal, social and ecological. Seeing clearly what is taking place you may wish to protest against unnecessary environmental degradation initiated for private profit, or to stand up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, for those burdened by harsh and exploitative social structures. As your journey opens you to new ways of being or a wider spectrum of concerns, and as you become more receptive to a deepening appreciation of qualitative experience, it is the journey, not the destination, that counts, a journey which as it unfolds will of necessity not always be a smooth ride but which will be imbued with the strength necessary to fearlessly meet the challenges of a changing and complex world.

It follows from this insight that Social liberation implies creating the optimum conditions for other people to flourish and to lead creative and joyful lives. This means that social and economic justice, equal opportunity, and participation in community processes are paramount in the way society is structured. And by creating the conditions for achieving equilibrium between a degree of autonomy and cooperation we ensure diversity is maintained as an essential element in the sustainability of an evolving dynamic process where change is as fundamental as dependence on renewable energy. Free from notions of immutability, or clinging to past method under altering circumstances, new order always arises out of impermanence since self and society are ever in a mutually causal relationship in a dynamic and open-ended process.

 

I have offered some further reflections on the presence and nature of Awareness on the subpage to this section What is Mindfulness? There is also a video there of a talk by Peter Russell on Consciousness, Science and Non-Duality.

The basic fee for the full Four Week Course is 15,000 Kes. This includes weekly sessions of four hours each, divided into two days per week, or one afternoon. So far most participants have preferred the option of one afternoon at a weekend. You will also receive a package you by email of additional material, including some audio guided meditations and helpful links.

The minimum number of participants for a specific course is eight.

First you should send an email to this CONTACT ME page to register your interest. All who apply will then be informed of the size of a potential group so we can start. You will be asked if you wish to pay by MPESA or by BANK TRANSFER, and you will receive instructions for payment. On receipt of full payment your enrolment will be confirmed. You will receive by email a package outlining the course modules in more detail, including personal log sheets by which you can keep a record of your progress. Week by week as the course progresses you will be given exercises to practice, some guided meditations, and extra reading material applicable to that week's practice.

I AM FACILITATING A FOUR WEEK MINDFULNESS COURSE DURING MAY-JUNE 2019 AT HOB HOUSE IN KITISURU. FOR INFORMATION GO TO THE MENU PAGE 'MINDFUL WORKSHOPS' or UPCOMING MAY COURSE.

YOU CAN ENROL NOW AND REGISTER FOR THIS COURSE by calling 0722 599187 or 0788 344037, or by using the CONTACT US PAGE. Payment by MPESA to 0722 599187 is possible.

Welcome to Mindfulness Practice.

DB

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world.....as in being able to remake ourselves.  Mahatma Gandhi