From paddling in the shallows to taking a deeper dive into Mindfulness by Claire Kelly
It’s with great excitement that I join the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC) team to oversee programmes involving those new to mindfulness, including the 8-week programmes, information sessions and the new 3-week Introduction to Mindfulness course. It’s an exciting time at the OMC, and for the mindfulness field more broadly!
Paddling in the Shallows
Why an Introduction to Mindfulness course? The analogy of swimming is often used when talking about mindfulness, perhaps because of the experiential nature of both. If enrolling in an 8-week mindfulness programme (Mindfulness for Life, Finding Peace in a Frantic World*) is the equivalent of beginning formal swimming lessons, where you may eventually take your feet off the bottom of the pool, then the Introduction to Mindfulness course is a little like paddling in the shallows. You get a sense of what the experience is like, learn some key skills and understanding, and may decide that’s enough.
The ‘paddling’ involves hour-long sessions in which you explore a mixture of theory, practice and some discussion. At the end of the 3 sessions, you will have a clearer sense of what mindfulness is (and what it isn’t), having had the chance to learn some key understanding and skills to support you in everyday life and work. For example, you will:
• explore the mind’s natural tendency to be scattered and to wander, and how we can train attention to create choices about where and how we place attention;
• understand how much of our experience is shaped by thought, how this can be both helpful and unhelpful, and how we can relate to thought in a way that helps us to flourish over time;
• recognise the difference between reacting and responding, and explore how this can shape our experience and the quality of our lives.
Taking a Deeper Dive 1
For some, the 3 sessions will be enough to satisfy their curiosity about mindfulness, and equip them with a few key practices to support them in their work and everyday life. For others, they may feel ready to take a slightly ‘deeper dive’ into an 8-week programme such as Mindfulness for Life.
You don’t need to complete an Introduction to Mindfulness course before diving a little deeper into 8-week programmes, but it can be a good way to help you decide if it’s right for you.
Taking a Deeper Dive 2
Having attended the Introduction to Mindfulness course, a further option is to train to teach the programme yourself through the 6-month Teacher Training Programme.
This training is for professionals who would like to integrate mindfulness into their work but don’t intend to teach full 8-week courses. This training develops your skills and understanding of mindfulness in order to introduce it in the form of drop-in sessions, taster sessions, or one-off practice sessions.
A Diverse and Global Community
Whatever you choose to do, you will join a live, online community of diverse people from around the world. For example, the most recent course I taught for the OMC included a retired Mathematics teacher, an undergraduate student, someone caring full-time for their elderly parent, someone who had recently lost their job as a result of the pandemic, a youth-worker in an inner-city charity project, a nurse, a CEO of a large financial organisation and a disability advisor.
The global nature of the group was also striking. Once a week, they ‘Zoomed in’ from Singapore, Chile, Hungary, Denmark, Luxembourg, Dubai, and the UK.
Notably, the live online format of the course allowed those who might otherwise not to be able to access mindfulness training to come together once a week and share common, and very human experiences, irrespective of professional, geographical or personal context.
Whether you choose to ‘paddle in the shallows’ or take a ‘deeper dive’ into mindfulness, know you’ll be very welcome whoever you are and wherever you come from. Meanwhile, you’ll be supported by an experienced, skilful and supportive team here at the OMC.
*Currently the OMC offers this course in 6 or 8-week formats to workplace and higher education sectors in partnership with organisations.
The first Introduction to Mindfulness 3 week course runs from 20/07/2021 to 03/08/2021 7:00pm – 8:00pm BST
Click here to find out more.
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