Mindfulness is recognised by NICE as an affective treatment for depression and anxiety and it is widely used the along with CBT by the NHS Wellbeing Service and they also offer mindfulness-based wellbeing classes. However, the group sizes tend to be large and the focus tends to be problems rather than exploring solutions, on meditation rather than self exploration and self development. The goals I set myself in creating a different mindfulness-based course, therefore, was to connect with real people in the real world and to only to work with small groups.
While developing the programme gained a diploma as a mindfulness and meditation trainer with the SMART Foundtation and in October, I present a six-week wellbeing course with the title Stress Management And Relaxation Techniques (SMART). I was struck by the use of the SMART acronym which I am more familiar with as a self-improvement tool from the business sector but the more I though about what I was trying to create in the course, the more SMART made sense.
The Specific goal is to create a better sense of wellbeing in the attendees and teach them ways to reduce and cope with Stress, to Manage the Stress. Along with stress and anxiety individuals will often experience depression which reduces effectiveness at work and undermines relationships. Mindfulness teaches us how to actively regulate our physical hormonal states and manage our emotions.
The Measurable goal enables the attendees to notice over time reduced symptoms of Stress. Perhaps they might sleep better, find less need for alcohol, and enjoy more harmonious relationships with friends, colleagues and loved ones. They might even experience clearer thinking which will become obvious as life goals feel easier to achieve.
The Achievable goal is addressed in that the course focusses on an honest self exploration of who we wish to believe we are versus what the world perceives us to be. This can be very challenging but by taking a little time out, by exploring and developing our personal “brand” we bring these two viewpoints closer together.
The goal of being Relevant is met by relating the programme to the real world experience of each individual. The title of Jon Kabat-Zin’s book sums this up perfectly. “Wherever We Go, There We Are”. Withdrawing from relationships or work does not make anxiety and stress go away as it will follow us. So, the course does not advocate withdrawing from the world or relationships but encourages finding ways to move towards them by escaping the habitual negative messages we send to ourselves or receive. By learning to look upon yourself and others with compassion you learn to take responsibility for your own emotions and let those that need to take responsibility for theirs.
The goal of being Time-bound is met staging the course over 6 weeks during which attendees will take away exercises in meditation and visualisation, develop the ability to be in the present moment, and will develop a personal brand which will remain with them always.
The course commences at 6:30 on Friday 23rd October for 6 weeks at the Norwich Wellbeing Centre. Yes, on Friday! But this enables attendees to find some time over the weekend to consolidate their learning. It helps to have an open mind when attending the course but I choose not to ignore those who are more sceptical? What I wanted to create was something that addressed real-world problems for those that work hard, have responsibilities that cannot be ignored, or those who want to find ways to cope with the pressures of life.
For more information about the Stress Management And Relaxation course, please visits www.innercalm.co.uk. The course is limited to a maximum of 12 people and there is a substantial discount for early booking and for liking the the Inner Calm Facebook page.