Mindfulness First Steps Course – MITC
Pre-course information and ground rules
The course is structured so that each week builds upon the last. Together we will be exploring, through structured exercises and homework, the experience of Mindfulness. You will be learning to use a set of “tools” that you can use to build your own practice.
A feature of the course is the invitation to describe, share and discuss our experiences of practice. In this way we can learn from each other and understand both the similarities and the differences that exist. This is often a novel experience for people, so be patient with yourself and others as we try to find the words to describe our interior experience.
Home practice is a very important component of the course. It may be a struggle, for some of us, to find yet more time for another task in an already stressful day, but for these four weeks we would urge you to do your best to set aside time for personal practice.
This course is designed for people who want to find ways of working with stress more effectively and increasing their overall level of awareness and well-being. It gently encourages moving towards experiences, including difficulties, in order to be able to work with them more skilfully. This can be challenging as well as rewarding.
If you have a current mental health issue such as clinical depression or PTSD, or are in a period of major life challenge such as recent bereavement, active substance addiction or trauma, a Mindfulness course may not be right for you at this time.
If you have any concern about your circumstances please contact Bob initially by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Bob will get in contact to discuss the best option for you. All information you share will be treated in strict confidence. In some circumstances he may suggest you do not undertake the course.
Technical (computer) readiness
1: For the Live Events you will need a computer/laptop with a broadband connection to the internet. It is possible to use a smart phone but the experience of being with a group is more limited.
2: You will need a working camera and microphone. In most laptops these are built in.
I would recommend a “headset” with a microphone attached, especially if you are using a PC.
3: We will be using the Zoom conference app for these meetings. You will need to download the Zoom app if you intend to use a smart phone. It is not necessary (but you may want to) install the Zoom software on your computer. It is free and available at: https://zoom.us/download
4: You will receive your Zoom meeting invitations by email in advance of each session.
Zoom provide video tutorials here:
Test your stress level
The Mental Health Foundation offer a free online stress test. It uses a standard “Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)”. You may be interested (it is not a required part of the course) to check your score before and after the course. Remember to make a note of you first score. https://www.bemindfulonline.com/test-your-stress/
Q: What else do I need for the “live” group sessions?
1: Most of us will be sitting in chairs in front of our computers. I recommend an upright chair rather than “slouching” on the sofa or lying down with a laptop on your tummy. You will need to sit upright unless there is a medical reason for lying down. Try to position your camera at eye level if possible to avoid looking down too much.
2: Wear something warm, comfortable and not too restrictive. We will be doing some gentle movement (sitting and standing) and if you want to sit cross-legged, you will need to wear loose trousers or similar.
3: Have a glass of water, a flask (not whisky!) or something handy to sip during the session. Go to the bathroom before the session.
Please let us know if you have any mobility, hearing or other sensory difficulties that you feel might impact on your participation in the course. This course is taught in English.
Q: If I cannot attend a class – what should I do?
Please email your tutor as soon as you know you are unable to attend. Keeping up with the reading and homework will be especially important if you miss an online session.
Q: What if I feel unwell or stressed during one of the exercises or classes?
During an online session you can stop your video and audio and take a break. Re-join the meeting if you feel able to.
Meditation can allow difficult feelings and emotions to arise. If it is possible, it is better to stay with these feelings and let them pass, as best as you can; this is part of Mindfulness practice. If you find it difficult to do this just stop and take a break from the exercise. This is caring wisely for yourself.
Please do not feel obliged to participate in any exercises you feel uncomfortable doing. Just sit these out quietly. If you want to talk to the tutor after the class let them know with an email or by using the chat function.
This course is experiential and participative. Only by working and exploring together will each make the most of the opportunity. These are some commitments we would like you to consider adopting:
1. Participating in ALL the online group sessions
2. Engaging in the course and practices with an open-minded attitude
3. Engaging, as best you can, in the home practice assignments
4. Making up any weekly classes you miss through extra study.
1: Confidentiality and Trust
Please treat any information you hear as confidential and not to be shared to anyone outside of the group in a way that the person can be identified. The guiding principle is: “treat people as you would like to be treated yourself”.
Please do NOT record the sessions or screen-shot the online sessions.
Unless you feel very uncomfortable doing so, please participate in the exercises as well as you are able. Even if you don’t immediately see the point! As John Kabat-Zinn put it:
“You don’t have to like it; you just have to do it. When the [course] is over, then you can tell us whether it was of any use or not. For now just keep practicing.”
3: Listening and contributing
Sharing our experience, of the practices, is encouraged. It’s an important feature of the course. We ask that you give space and time to those that want to speak. If you are a “jumper-in” or a “wait until late” type of person, perhaps try changing your usual behaviour and see what happens. If you do not want to say anything – that’s OK too.
4: Patience with yourself and others
Everyone will have a different journey through the course. Your experience may be different but cannot be wrong! So relax into your own experience and let things unfold. Things will make sense at different points in the course. If there is an exercise you can’t see the point of, we suggest you just try it and see what happens.
5: Therapy and our life stories
Mindfulness is different to talking therapies in which you might recount your experiences or life story. No one will be asked to bring up or discuss their life stories during the course. In fact, we actively discourage it. Rather we will be looking at our sensations as experienced in “the present moment” although these sensations may be influenced by past experience.
All MITC tutors adhere to the BAMBA Teacher Good Practice Guidelines https://bamba.org.uk/teachers/good-practice-guidelines/
If you have any serious concerns about the tutor or the course you can contact The Mindfulness Network https://www.mindfulness-network.org/