The Online Mindfulness Course has been designed to last for 9 weeks but we recommend that you continue with your daily meditation after you have completed the course. Our hope is that you will BRING MINDFULNESS INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE more and more after you have completed the course.
The more practice you do the more Mindful you will become. The Practice Section of the course has a regular and an informal practice. Use our SITTING, BODY SCAN and YOGA MEDITATIONS as well as some MINDFUL COOKING, EATING, WALKING, AND MANY MORE TO USE EVERYDAY.
Stress is a major factor contributing to poor health, around the world. Whether an individual suffers from acute stress or chronic stress the effects on the immune system can be extremely damaging.
In the UK the Labor Force Survey (LFS) of 2014 stated that " the total number of cases of work related stress in 2013/14 was 487,000 (39%) out of all work-related illness" (6)
A "Stress in America" survey, recently conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2012, concluded that 20% of Americans were experiencing extreme stress, ranking their stress with an 8, 9 and 10 on a 10-point scale. 80% of the respondents, from the survey, stated that stress had increased or remained the same. "Only 37% of Americans feel they are doing an excellent job of managing their stress."(5)
There is no doubt that stress can have a negative effect on an individual. Mindfulness Meditation can reduce stress and anxiety, which can improve sleep, sex, and appetite and give a person a more positive outlook on life. Research carried out in 2010 by Hoffman et al concluded that Mindfulness based therapy improved anxiety and stress amongst the participants of their study (7) and Dr Herbert Benson found that by focusing attention on breathing created a "relaxation response" in the body which counteracts stress. (8)
Often, sleep disturbances are caused by "trying" to fall asleep instead of just "relaxing" into sleep. Mindfulness can give you a way to improve your sleep, by focusing your attention onto breathing, instead of putting more and more effort into falling asleep.
The brain explains why we behave the way we do. Neuroscience tells us why things happen in the brain. Mindfulness can change the brain, through Neuroplasticity, and promote awareness, which helps relieve the effects of stress, by giving us an affective way of activating the "Relaxation Response"
The Limbic System is where our emotions live. The most important part of the Limbic System is the Amygdala, which reacts to perceived fear and threats, of which stress is one. The Amygdala is a security guard that either blocks, or lets through, information to the higher level Neocortical area, where higher-level thinking takes place. When a person is stressed the Amygdala stops the information getting to the higher level and when a person is feeling good the Amygdala lets the information through to the higher level.
When a person is in a negative emotional state and stress occurs, the Amygdala processes the information from the 5 senses and blocks it from getting to the higher level. It reacts either by "fight, flight or freeze” from these senses, which can be either real or perceived, and often leads to a reactionary or unmindful response. On the other hand, the pleasurable events go to the pre-frontal cortex and are responded to using a reasoned or mindful action.
By regularly practicing focusing attention on breathing, trains the brain to avoid reactions and instead gives the brain time to consider a mindful response. Mindfulness is, therefore, an essential tool in stress management
Stress can affect different people in many ways. Certain people will be more resilient to stress, compared to other people and it's a person's ability to manage and adapt to stress that will affect the outcome. For example, stress could be caused by; how a person thinks other people perceive them, or by real socio-economic threats. Alongside these external factors are the internal stressors. This is when a person thinks something, which might not be real or true. There is also another problem with stress, which is that it can create a feedback loop that can trigger more stress, particularly rumination. Stress can create more stress.
Research tells us that by using regular Mindfulness practice a person can improve attention, focus, boost memory, creativity and learning. A study carried out by Levy et al (2012) (9) stated that, " only those trained in mediation stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches", which means that individuals who meditated could remain more focused. It has also been shown that Mindfulness can improve creativity by generating new ideas, improved communication and improved decision making (10).
Mindfulness helps in the workplace to make staff calmer, more focused and more resilient to the effects of stress.
Mindfulness can provide an individual with new ways to view old or existing projects at work or issues at home. Mindfulness creates innovation. A Study in 2012 from the University of North Dakota and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands states, “ Mindfulness may facilitate insight problem solving." (11).
Mindfulness is an important factor leading to better leadership because it allows individuals to understand other perspectives from a compassionate point of view and allows quicker recovery from stressful days.
Mindfulness can promote improvements in relationships by allowing an individual to take non-judgmental and compassionate points of view and be more socially aware of experiences.
Several studies find that a person's ability to be mindful can help predict relationship satisfaction - the ability to respond well to relationship stress and the skill in communicating one's emotions to a partner.
Research has show that Mindfulness can enhance empathy and promote self-compassion. (15)
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