Our curriculum follows the UK Good Practice guidelines for Teaching Mindfulness and Mindfulness Teachers used by institutions such as UMASS, Bangor, Exeter and Oxford Universities. Our course is based on both the standard MBSR and MBCT 8 week courses taught around the world and to help you get a better understanding of the curriculum we teach you to teach during TTR1 and TTR2 we have added the Session titles, themes and learning focuses for you below.
Regarding teaching practice, every afternoon you will be teaching a 20 minute version of the MBSR Foundation practice you explored during the morning sessions in small groups with peer feedback. 4 times during the course you will also be assessed by Kathy Ward or Bodhin following the MBI-TAC (Mindfulness-based Intervention Teaching Assessment Criteria) guidelines for MBSR Teachers with feedback to support your development. At the end of the module you will also have a 15 minute 1-1 with one of us to discuss your next development steps.
For those going on to gain the accredited MBSR Teacher Training certificate, the focus of the TTR2 Advanced Teacher Training module is to deepen the skills from the Foundation course and to also learn how to teach the standard 8 week MBSR course. Once again, you will be teaching in small groups each day with peer feedback, and MBI-TAC assessment and feedback with Bodhin or myself. Both modules are not attendance courses, and each student must reach the required competency level in order to pass the module, the MBI-TAC and our roll is to support your development.
Please note - the focus of TTR1 is to deepen your personal practice and teach you how to teach the core practices of each session. TTR2 focuses on deepening your personal and teaching practice and teaching you how to run each of the eight 2.5hr sessions that make up the Mindful Academy MBSR Course.
Session 1 - What is Mindfulness?
Theme and learning focus - Cultivating mindfulness can help us reduce the negative physiological and psychological effects of stress reactivity, as well as helping us to develop more effective ways of responding positively and pro-actively to stressful situations and experiences.
In this session we will learn that when we are in “automatic pilot” it is easy to drift unawares into a busy “doing” mode and ruminative thought patterns that can create additional stress in our lives. Continual “doing” mode also robs us of our potential for really living our lives moment by moment. We can transform this experience by intentionally paying attention to it in particular ways. We begin to practice stepping out of automatic pilot by paying attention intentionally, mindfully, to eating, to the sensations in the body, and to aspects of our ever-day experience.
Session 2 - Gathering the scattered mind. The power of being present & living all your moments
Theme and learning focus - The mind is often scattered and lost in thought because it is working away in the background to complete unfinished tasks and strive for future goals. When this happens we miss many of our pleasant moments, perhaps by focusing only on the unpleasant ones, such as crisis or pain. Yet it is possible to have pleasant moments even when you are in pain, and unpleasant moments in pleasurable situations!
In this session we will learn how to “come back” to the present moment by tuning into the breath and body to reconnect ourselves. Learning on the way that there is no ‘right way’ to experience meditation, instead bringing attitudes of curiosity and kindly interest to our moment to moment experience thereby living more of our lives.
Session 3 - What is Stress? Learning about our patterns of reactivity to Stress.
Theme and learning focus - Cultivating mindfulness can reduce the negative physiological and psychological effects of stress reactivity, as well as help develop more effective ways of responding positively and pro-actively to stressful situations and experiences.
In this session we will learn that our perception how you see/don’t see things will largely determine how you respond to them. “its not the stressors, but how you handle them’ which influences the effects they have on health in mind and body. Mindfulness practices can help us tune into our bodies with a gentle curiosity, helping us to break the negative stress cycle and step out of reactivity.
Session 4 - Coping with Stress. Practicing Mindfulness to Respond instead of React
Theme and learning focus - Cultivating Mindfulness can reduce the negative physiological and psychological effects of stress reactivity, as well as help us develop more effective ways of responding positively and pro-actively to stressful situations and experiences. Our conditioning and perception shape our moment to moment experience, in fact there is a statistic that says our experience is shaped by 10% due to the situation and 90% due to our perception!
Our session this week continues our exploration of how a Mindfulness practice cultivates curiosity and openness to all experience, helps us learn new ways to relate to external and internal stressors, recognise and inquire into our habitual reactive patterns and how to soften resistance and reduce suffering.
Session 5 - Mindfulness of Thoughts
Theme and learning focus - When we relate differently to our thoughts we free ourselves from the ruminative doing mode and see clearly that negative thinking is a distorted product of the mind. It is enormously liberating to realise that our thoughts are merely thoughts, even the ones that say they are not! During this session we will be learning how to observe our thoughts as events so that you can come to realise that “You are not your thoughts”
Albert Einstein once said -
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”
Session 6 - Mindfulness of Emotions
Theme and learning focus - Whenever you feel a certain emotion, a whole system is activated, This system includes the thoughts and images that enter your mind, the memories you access, the aspects of yourself or the surrounding world that you focus on, the body and mental sensations you experience, physical changes such as appetite, your behaviour, and the things you feel like doing.
We practiced last week how becoming aware and labelling sensations can keep you grounded in your body and out of your ruminating mind. Now we’ll move to becoming aware of specific emotions and how awareness will move us out of the emotional mind trap. The practices today will help you see emotions as “just emotions” rather than getting caught up in them. These practices are key cornerstones of the course.
Session 7 - Cultivating Compassion
Theme and learning focus - If your life feels like a struggle with the world, it may be that your real struggle is with yourself. At times, our own suffering can also cut us off from others, and experiences like stress, pain or depression can make us preoccupied with our difficulties.
However, if we turn towards our experience with kindly awareness we can find the deepest kind of peace and happiness that comes from within. Developing kindness for ourselves can help us reconnect with the world and open into kindness and compassion for others. The practices we will learn today help develop a disposition of generosity in formal meditation so that it may arise more readily enriching both our own day-to-day lives and the lives of those we meet and interact with.
Session 8 - A Mindful Life
Theme and learning focus - Planning for a new way of living - the eighth week is the rest of your life! Maintaining and extending a more mindful and caring way of being requires clear intention, attention, attitude and planning.
It is helpful to link regular mindfulness practice to a personally significant value or positive reason for taking care of yourself. Perhaps, start by asking yourself “how do I feel differently to the start of the 8 week programme?” Has the benefit been worth the squeeze?