Below are a selection of FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) that participants have often asked in the past before booking on mindfulness courses. If your question is not answered below then please feel free to give me a call on 07773 641027.
Do I have to attend an introduction day before booking on a mindfulness course?
No, attendance at an introduction day is not a requirement to coming on a mindfulness course. The mindfulness for stress-reduction and living well course as well as the mindfulness for weight loss course are suitable for beginners who don’t have any prior experience of mindfulness or meditation. During the first session we will cover all the fundamentals of mindfulness and I’ll give an introduction to meditation including advice on posture. If you have any questions that you’d like to ask prior to booking then please feel free to give me a call.
Do you cover the full ‘8-week’ syllabus during the 4-day course format?
Yes. The content of the course is exactly the same irrespective of whether it’s delivered over 8 shorter (2 1/2 hr sessions) or 4 longer (5 1/2 hr sessions). When the course is run in the 4-day format, we cover ‘weeks 1 & 2’ material on the first day, ‘weeks 3 & 4’ on the second day, ‘weeks 5 & 6’ on the third day and ‘weeks 7 & 8’ on the final day.
The 4-day format of the course is usually delivered on weekends, when we usually meet once every fortnight. This avoids the need to give up 8 Saturdays or Sundays in a row!!!
Do I have to sit cross-legged to meditate?
No, not unless you want to!
It is possible to meditate whilst lying down, kneeling or sitting in a chair. The body scan mindfulness meditation is usually done lying down, and the mindfulness of breathing and kindly awareness practices are usually done whilst kneeling or sitting in a chair.
The key is to find a position in which you are comfortable, or as comfortable as you can be if you suffer from a chronic pain condition. This will be slightly different for different people. Week 2 of the course includes a posture workshop in which you will get the chance to try out different postures with the help of the trainer and the course assistant.
Do the courses have any religious content?
No. The mindfulness courses do not contain any religious content.
The mindfulness meditation practices taught on the course, as on all MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) courses, have been derived from Eastern meditation traditions such as Buddhism, but are taught in a secular format.
What’s different about the Breathworks Mindfulness Course compared to others?
The Breathworks course was originally developed over 10 years ago by Vidyamala Birch, who has used mindfulness to manage her severe chronic spinal pain for twenty-five years. The course is based on practice-based research as well as combining key elements of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), as taught by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
Breathworks programmes have been commissioned by organisations ranging from local authorities to NHS Trusts, are recognised by the North East Service Provider Register (a government-backed body providing training funding in the North East), and are the subject of an ongoing action research project by the Department of Health as possible exemplars under the Dignity in Care initiative.
The course has therefore been tried and tested over many years with thousands of participants. The course is not only well-crafted but is structured to include the opportunity for constant feedback, thus allowing the trainer to emphasise particular topic areas in order to accomodate the individual needs of the group. The efficacy of the course in helping people with pain, illness and stress has also undergone significant research. Many other courses have simply not undergone this level of refinement, distillation and research.
The Breathworks course also includes a large amount of professionally produced support materials (3Cd’s and a substantial handbook). These materials not only allow participants to build a strong home mindfulness meditation practice during the course, but also allow them to revisit the educational material again after the course has finished. Many other courses simply do not provide this level of support material.
All Breathworks courses are also delivered by fully qualified and insured mindfulness trainers. The Breathworks teacher training programme is very thorough and involves three seperate 7-day residential training retreats, a mindful movement training weekend, four weeks of reviewed meditation diaries, a full 8-week accreditation course with one to one mentoring and ongoing CPD including at least one 1-week meditation practice retreat per year. Many other courses are led by trainers who have not undergone this level of training.
What materials are included with the course?
The course includes a handbook and 3 CD’s containing various guided mindfulness meditation practices. The three primary practices are the Body Scan, the Mindfulness of Breathing and the Kindly Awareness.
The total cost of the materials alone that are included with the course are over £35.
I know that I won’t be able to make a couple of weeks of the course. Will I still get a benefit if I enrol?
Yes! As a general guideline participants get a significant benefit from the course if they are able to attend 6 or more of the 8 sessions, or 3 of the 4 days for courses help in the 4-day format.
The handbook that is included with the course covers all the main educational elements taught on the course. The 3 CD’s contain guided meditations of the three main mindfulness practices taught on the course, so that participants can practice between sessions.
Any participant who misses a session will therefore have ample opportunity to ‘catch up’ and maintain a home practice through the use of the CD’s. In addition, a free ‘catch up’ phone call is offered to any participant who has missed a session, on top of the unlimited e-mail support that all participants get between sessions.
I can’t sit down for long periods of time. Will I be able to attend a full 2 ½ hr session?
Yes. The most important thing on a Breathworks course is that you are comfortable. If you need to stand up, lie down or move around in order to be comfortable at any time during a session then that’s fine. This is explained to the entire group at the beginning of the course so that people feel supported and comfortable in making any adjustments that they need to. The course assistant will also be there to provide you with any help that you require in getting comfortable, and we take regular breaks on all courses.
I suffer from anxiety, and I’m worried that coming on a course will make me more anxious!
Doing anything new in life involves an element of embracing the unknown. Deciding to partake in a mindfulness course is no different, and it’s perfectly understandable that some people might feel a little anxious about being part of a group. However, the group environment on all courses is always warm and supportive, and whilst group interaction is always encouraged it is not compulsory!
I don’t like speaking in front of groups of people. Will I have to do this on the course?
All participants are given the opportunity to say a few words about themselves at the beginning of the course, and to report on what they got out of the course at the end. This can be as little or as much (within reason!) as you want to. There is also the opportunity to feedback on your progress and to ask questions about your home practice every week, and again you can say as little or as much as you choose to.
I see that the only prerequisite for joining the course is a willingness and commitment to engage fully with the programme, which will involve home practice of 30-45 minutes a day between sessions. What if I’m not able to do this every day?
Most people lead quite full and busy lives, and it’s true that sometimes life just gets in the way! However, mindfulness is just like anything else in life – ‘the more you put in the more you get out’. The good news is that what you get out can often be extremely fruitful and beneficial insights into the nature of your current situation, whether its stress or anxiety related to work or family, or a particular condition or illness you’re working with. These insights, in turn can often lead to you experiencing a far freer more liberating life where you see moments of choice that you were previously unaware of.
The course is structured over a period of weeks to give participants the opportunity to establish a regular home meditation practice, so that after the course has finished you can continue to enjoy the benefits of a mindfulness practice for the rest of your life.
Will I need to buy expensive meditation equipment so that I can do the home practice?
No. The body scan can be done lying down on a flat surface such as a bed, and the mindfulness of breathing and kindly awareness meditations can be done whilst sitting in an upright chair, such as a dining room chair.
I see that mindful movements are included in the course. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to do all of them?
The mindful movements that are included on the course are gentle movements that have been developed by a qualified yoga teacher. They have been designed with the emphasis on bringing a mindful meditative quality to our movements rather than contorting the body into weird and wonderful shapes! You choose which of the guided movements to do and which not to do.
Will I receive any support after the course has finished?
Yes. As a Breathworks graduate you will have the opportunity to access the support offered by the Breathworks community online. You will also have the opportunity to attend graduate retreats run by Breathworks CIC. Full details of these and other opportunities will be provided at the end of the course.
I can’t make the current taster session/course. Will you be running further events in the future?
Yes, it is my intention to run further Breathworks mindfulness taster sessions and courses in the future. To save you checking the website regularly, the easiest way to keep informed of new event dates is by signing up to my free monthly newsletter. You’ll also get the benefit of receiving mindfulness articles written by myself, as well as links to other mindfulness articles, videos, book recommendations and events, directly to your mail box!
If you have any other questions that are not covered here, then just give us a ring (07773 641 027) or send us an email, and we’ll be more than happy to answer them.