Why learn mindfulness?
I first learned to practice mindfulness following a stress related breakdown which left me in hospital.
My mind froze like a computer with too many windows open - I couldn't sleep or read anything. I was anxious and depressed.
My mission is to help others learn this simple tool for living, so that no one need get as ill as I did before they find for themselves what wonderful things living mindfully can reveal about our every day lives.
Mindfulness helped me to recover from that breakdown and return successfully to my old position at work as a lawyer. The same stresses surrounded me, but I now know how to access the executive functioning in my brain's pre-frontal cortex and be calm even in a crisis. I have learned how to watch thoughts as they pass through my head, without attaching meaning to them as "the truth".
I learned to teach others the skill of mindfulness, at the world renowned University of Oxford Mindfulness Centre, which operates as part of the Department of Psychiatry.
Though Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness Based Stress Relief (MBSR) are relatively new, the skills of Mindfulness are as ancient as their roots in Buddhist teaching over 2,500 years old, although to say Mindfulness is Buddhist is like saying Newton invented gravity.
Modern MBCT however has more in common with clinical science than religion, and is a purely secular activity helping those who practice regularly to "fall awake" to what is going on around them "with more notices per minute" just like a sportsman in the zone, or a musician emphasising nuances in a piece of music that show his skill.
MBCT as designed by John Teasdale, Mark Williams and Zindel Segal in 2002 is based on Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness training (MBSR) developed in the 1990s. The way it is taught is traditionally through attendance at an 8 week course of about 2 hours per week, in a small group, supplemented by home practice in between each weekly class. MBCT can also be guided on a one-on-one basis using the tools supplied by books and cds available in high street book shops (see recommendations page). Sophie Jane worked with the Mindfulness Initiative to produce a guide to introducing mindfulness into the workplace www.themindfulnessinitiative.org.uk/publications/building-the-case
The best way to learn mindfulness is guided by a professional. Learning mindfulness with Sole Philosophy involves an initial assessment to discuss what mindfulness is and what it isn't, so that each participant gets a good idea of what they might expect to benefit from by taking this course and in the long term from daily practice of mindfulness. The initial course usually takes 8 weeks to complete, but is only a starter in your mindful journey through life.
You can join Sophie Jane at one of her sitting groups, where beginners and graduates can join together in a calming space to practice mindfulness. Here you will learn more of the 12 themes that are enlightened in the basic training of the 8 week course.
The most difficult part of mindfulness is remembering to do it. These free sessions help you to try out Mindfulness for yourself so that you can find out how it will help you before you sign up for an 8 week course to learn more.
Sophie Jane volunteers as a listener for the charity LawCare who exist to help lawyers and their families and employees through sign-posting and listening. Sophie has trained with Mental Health First Aid England to be a registered Mental Health First Aider.