MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS
Frequently asked questions
WILL I NEED TO DO HOMEWORK?
To get the most out of coming to the class requires some work on your part and each participant is required to undertake 20 - 30 mins of home practice every day between the classes. It requires a strong commitment to work on yourself through a gentle but rigorous daily discipline of meditation and relaxation. Making the commitment to the daily practice and to the personal exploration involved can make the course seem difficult at times, but believe me when I say it is this regular commitment that will bring the results!
DO I NEED ANY PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE OR SPECIAL EQUIPMENT?
No and no! You don't need to have had any meditation experience beforehand for either of the courses. Although if you have, this is also fine. These courses can be of benefit to everyone. The only special equipment you need is your own human body, mind, presence, intention and inquisitiveness (bear in mind that this is very special equipment).
WHAT IF I CAN'T SIT CROSS-LEGGED?
No problem! Some practices we will do lying down, some seated. If sitting cross-legged is uncomfortable, then sitting on a chair is equally good. The important thing when sitting is to get a stable base and an upright spine. We will spend some time in the course exploring the right meditation posture for you.
ARE THE COURSES RELIGIOUS?
No. The courses that I teach are not religious, neither do they require you to have any particular beliefs. The practices that I will introduce you to are drawn from the centuries-old Zen Buddhist tradition (and particularly the ZenWays school), but they are simply techniques - equally applicable no matter who you are or what your background is.
When practising with these techniques there is no right or wrong answer, no particular states of mind to achieve, or answers to be found. Through your own genuine inquiry, open-mindedness, and presence, you might find certain ideas, memories, insights coming up. That's great! Whatever comes is ok. There will be a chance in every classes to discuss what might've come up, to hear what other people are finding, and to explore how it might help you further your practice.
Zen is a Japanese school of Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition rather than ritual worship or study of scriptures.
CAN I JOIN PART-WAY THROUGH?
Unfortunately not. These 8-week courses are designed to introduce you to the mindfulness and meditation practices step-by-step, and to get the most benefit it is important to attend all the classes.
WHAT IF I CAN'T MAKE THE DATES?
To get the most benefit out of the course it is important to make the commitment to attend all the classes. If absolutely unavoidable, then missing one class is ok. I can provide catch-up sheets, and if necessary we can arrange a private catch-up session.
CAN I DO THIS COURSE IF I HAVE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES?
Meditation and mindfulness have been proven to help with issues ranging from depression and anxiety, to addiction, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue, and can be of great help in living with the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia.
However, if you have suffered or are suffering from mental health issues then it is possible that practising mindfulness before you are ready may make your situation worse or create new problems.
If you have a history or trauma or abuse then you may end up overwhelmed or flooded by painful feelings and memories.
If you have a tendency to "dissociate" (blank out, space out, leave one's body, etc.) in stressful or upsetting situations, then meditation (if not properly supervised) has the potential of exacerbating the issue.
If you hear voices or get confused about what's real and what's imaginary, then under some circumstances meditation can again make this worse.
It's possible and potentially very beneficial to practice mindfulness with any background, but to be ready you will need a good foundation of self-regulation skills. Good therapists can help enormously with this.
If you're considering doing a course and have or suspect you may have any of these conditions then contact me first and we can discuss things.
IS IT NECESSARY TO ATTEND A COURSE TO LEARN MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness is a very natural skill that we all, to a greater of lesser extent, possess some innate understanding of. However it's not always easy to put it into practice without personal instruction, and inevitably questions arise for people as to whether they are doing it right.
There are more and more books being published on mindfulness, many very clear and useful, but they cannot give you feedback on your experience. People often find too that participating in a group brings a rich extra dimension to learning that they had not anticipated. Attending a course is highly recommended.