The modules range from teaching the principle elements of mediation (Have you got a kitten brain?), to introducing grounding techniques to help recognise and diffuse potentially damaging reactive patterns of behaviour (Patting the Wolf and listening to the Owl). We become aware of how to read our patterns of mental stress in the body and how to approach with kindness challenging thoughts and emotions.
Students discover the principle elements of meditation through a series of activities and guided meditations ranging from attempting to clear the mind of any thoughts to the classic exercise of mindfully watching the breath. We learn that mindfulness is not about emptying the mind but learning to concentrate while being aware of the normal movement of the mind, noticing when the mind moves away from its focus and then in a kindly way bringing attention back to the intended subject.
The skills of learning to pause and if necessary, ground attention away from the potentially ‘heated’ environment of the head to a neutral area of the body is trialled and tested. The relationship between the amygdala and pre-frontal cortex is explored using a simple hand model of the brain and a series of effective grounding meditations introduced.
The mind and body work closely together such that mental stress often accumulates within the body. By becoming familiar with the location of our personal ‘tension tanks’ together with certain basic physiological activities such as the breath we can begin to reduce the impact of potentially damaging cumulative stress. Furthermore, knowledge of our ‘stress signature’ can begin to help us notice when the amygdala warning system begins to become active, so we can then decide how best to respond in a constructive way.
The initial exercises in mindfulness taught the process of noticing thoughts and choosing to let them go, with kindness, as attention is returned to the intended focus. This module develops this process further. It begins by reinforcing grounding techniques that can be used whatever the mind state, and then introduces fresh tool which examine and practice a variety of mindfulness and cognitive approaches to thoughts and emotions. These include naming thoughts, safe place imagery, recognition of different mind modes, and working with various emotions. Simple mnemonics are introduced to support the practices.
A series of meditation exercises which help us to notice how easily we associate into the thoughts and emotions of the past such as regret or to an imagined future filled with worrying problems. Meditation techniques are practiced which help us to notice ‘time travelling mind’ and provide the opportunity of choosing to place our attention somewhere that is better for us.
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