Frequently Asked Questions
What happens in a mindfulness session?
Participants in our sessions are introduced to simple meditation practices that can help us become more present to our experience, manage thoughts, emotions and body sensations more effectively, and develop helpful responses to difficulties. The practices include sitting meditation, body scanning and gentle mindful movement / yoga, as well as some shorter exercises that invite mindfulness in daily life. There are also opportunities to share experiences of the practices, and some presentation and discussion of how mindfulness might be helpful in our lives. On an eight-week course, there is an initial two-hour orientation session, followed by 8 weekly two-hour sessions , and a one-day (6hr) retreat towards the end of the course. You are also invited to practice at home each day during the course (approx 45 mins a day). Our one-day workshops and shorter sessions offer an introduction to mindfulness and a chance to experience some of the practices taught on an eight-week course.
Where does the approach come from?
Our approach is based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, as well as the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy For Life (MBCT-L) course, developed at the Oxford University Mindfulness Centre (OMC). The two courses are very closely related. The MBSR course has been used for over forty years to help with anxiety, chronic health problems, and general well-being. The Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course was originally developed in the 1990s specifically to help prevent relapse among people with a history of depression, and as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy For Life (MBCT-L) it is now also now being offered more widely to non-clinical populations.
Is mindfulness training suitable for my current circumstances?
Our courses, workshops and practice sessions are designed for people who want to find ways of managing stress, building resilience and increasing their overall awareness, well-being and capacity to flourish. They gently encourage moving towards experiences (including difficulties) in order to be work with them more skilfully, and this can be challenging as well as rewarding. If you have current mental health problems such as a major depressive episode, severe anxiety, untreated post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis, or are in a period of major life challenge such as recent bereavement, active substance addiction or current trauma, mindfulness training may not be right for you at this time. We ask participants to complete a short confidential questionnaire and attend an orientation session prior to starting an eight-week course. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss your circumstances.
I am concerned that I may not be flexible enough for the 'movement' or 'sitting' practices.
The movement parts of our courses and workshops are very gentle. Participants are encouraged to work within their physical limitations, whatever these may be. We offer a range of options for finding a comfortable sitting posture (eg chairs or cushions) and can work with individual circumstances to help you find what works best for you.
Do I need any special equipment or clothing?
For an online course or session, you will need a firm-backed chair to sit on, and a blanket and pillow for lying down on. Loose clothing is recommended. Due to Covid 19, we are currently unable to provide meditation equipment other than chairs for our face-to-face courses, so those who wish to use other equipment (eg meditation cushions, stools, blankets and mats) will need to bring their own. Further guidance on equipment and clothing will be provided to participants before the course starts.
Can I join an eight-week course part-way through?
New participants cannot join part-way through an eight-week course. The course is experiential in nature and it is important that the group is consistent. If spaces are available it is sometimes possible for participants to join after the initial orientation session subject to an individual orientation taking place over the phone.
I am not sure if I have time for the 'homework' part of an eight-week course.
We appreciate everyone has busy lives but you will not get as much out of an eight-week course if you are not committed to the daily homework (approx 45 minutes) that we invite you to undertake during the course. We will provide audio links and other course materials to guide you in your home practice. Please talk to us if you have concerns about this.
I am concerned about being in a group situation.
It is not unusual to be concerned about working in a group. We try to create a safe and confidential environment for everyone to explore and share their experiences. There is no pressure to share in the group if you do not wish to and we invite you to notice and work within your own safety zone.
What is the maximum number of participants in a group?
For our face-to-face courses and workshops we currently take a maximum of 18 participants. For online courses via Zoom, we take a maximum of 24 participants and for workplace workshops up to 100 participants.
I am concerned about social distancing at an in-person course. What measures are in place?
Our venue is fully set-up for social distancing, and we are following guidelines for training programmes in indoor spaces (eg spacing 2 metres apart, availability of hand sanitiser, no sharing of equipment, and a one-way system and use of face coverings in building corridors). Please ask us for full details of our social distancing measures if you are concerned about this - you are also very welcome to join one of our online courses.
I am unsure about taking an online course. How is the experience different from a face-to-face course?
Zoom is proving to be an excellent platform for running mindfulness courses, and all the key elements of a mindfulness course session - guided meditation practice, group inquiry, didactic teaching - can take place effectively online. Many people are finding it more convenient to join a course from the comfort of their home, and we provide guidance and practice on how to connect to and make best use of the Zoom platform as part of our orientation process. W also recognise that some people are less confident with connecting online, and we are happy to offer individual technological support as needed.
Is there an minimum age limit on your courses/workshop?
Yes, participants must usually be 18 years old or over to attend our events. We are willing to consider mature 16- or 17-year-old participants on our one-day workshops, if accompanied by an adult. Please contact us for a discussion about this if you would like to attend a workshop with your 16- or 17-year-old.
What happens on the retreat day of an eight-week course?
The all-day retreat is an extended opportunity to practice and deepen what is being learned on the course. People often say it is one of the most valuable parts of the experience.
I cannot make all the course dates. Can I still attend?
We do appreciate that it can sometimes be difficult to make it to all the sessions of a course. If it is not possible to attend all of them, we recommend that you try not to miss more than one. If you are not able to make the all-day retreat, it is usually possible to attend another retreat at a later date. If you do miss a session, it may be possible to arrange a 1-2-1 catch-up session - however, there is a charge for this. It may also be possible to join a session by Zoom if you are unable to get to the course venue. Please feel free to talk to us about your circumstances.
Do you offer concessionary or sponsored rates?
We offer a limited number of fully sponsored places for carers on our 8-week courses and work with the Carer Support Service in Mid Sussex to allocate these. If you would like to be considered for one of these places please contact us for a discussion. We are committed to ensuring that mindfulness training is available to everyone regardless of financial circumstances, and so offer concessionary rates or staged payments for those who are unable to afford the full course cost. Please contact us if you would like to apply for a concessionary rate.
I don't have / want a PayPal account, can I still pay online?
We use PayPal to manage all our online payments but you do not need a PayPal account. If you would like to pay directly by credit / debit card then please scroll down when you get to the PayPal payment page during the booking process. Below the PayPal log in section you will see a link to pay by credit / debit card which is called 'Check out as guest'. Click on this and you can then enter your payment details without an account. Alternatively, please contact us if you would like to use another payment method.
How do I train to teach mindfulness?
If you are looking to teach mindfulness we recommend that you take an 8-week course in the first instance and develop your own personal practice over a period of time. You can then look at one of the accredited teacher trainings such as at Bangor, Oxford or Exeter Universities or The Sussex Mindfulness Centre. A good starting place is to look at the British Association For Mindfulness-Based Approaches website and ensure any training you receive is from an accredited teacher.
What is the evidence that mindfulness is helpful?
Over the past few decades, many hundreds of trials have shown that mindfulness-based approaches are effective in managing stress, anxiety, and depression, and can also help people improve relationships, develop awareness and cultivate emotional well-being and resilience. Mindfulness-based approaches have also been shown to reduce symptom perception and empower people with physical health problems, including chronic pain, cancer, and gastrointestinal disorders, as well as improving immune system functioning.
What do you offer once an eight-week course has finished?
We are committed to offering ongoing space and support for former course participants to practise mindfulness. We run morning and evening practice sessions for those that have completed an eight-week course, as well as day and longer residential retreats for those who wish to deepen or reconnect with their practice after completing an 8-week course.