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8-week MBCT Course Bromsgrove

Posted on: September 21st, 2015 by admin No Comments

8-week MBCT Course at The Wishing Well, Bromsgrovemindfulness at the wishing well

Each Wednesday from 10am to 12pm
Sep 30; Oct 7, 14, 21; Nov 4, 11, 18, 25

Come along and discover what mindfulness is and how you can use it to live more fully in the present moment which can help with managing stress, depression, anxiety and enhance your wellbeing. For more information on the course please visit here: About MBCT

The Wishing Well
Holistic Centre & Cafe
16 St John Street
Bromsgrove B61 8QY

The Wishing Well is conveniently located directly opposite a Pay and Display car park. Free parking is available in the nearby Sanders Park during daylight hours – this car park closes at dusk.


8-week MBCT - Bromsgrove
8-week MBCT – Bromsgrove

8-Week MBCT Course – Bromsgrove
Each Wednesday from 10am to 12pm
Sep 30; Oct 7, 14, 21; Nov 4, 11, 18, 25
Available Qty: 7

Introduction to Mindfulness [video]

Posted on: September 11th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Module 1 of the MBCT Online course – you can participate on the course by visiting here: www.openmindfulnessnow.com

Patterns of the Mind: Neurology of Mindfulness

Posted on: August 14th, 2015 by admin No Comments

If you’ve ever read a book or attended an 8-week course of mindfulness, you’ll have heard the word “patterns” to describe our habits of thoughts, feeling and behaviours. It’s the rumination of our tendencies, strategies, choices and defenses that make up what we call life. As humans, we are as they say  are ‘creatures of habit’ meaning we find comfort in routine as we operate from our conditioning in a awkwardly joined “better the devil you know” recklessness or apathy toward any meaningful change.

Anxiety, depression, over-thinking, ruminations of painful pasts… replaying patterns of thought over and over again. We cannot see past the pattern or we see it and we don’t want to know so we distract ourselves or set up impossible ideals of how it should be we fail to take any purposeful action due to the enormity of our existence.

What can we do about that? Mindfulness changes how we respond to difficulty and pleasure. We are more fully here to experience it with less reactions based on patterns. When we practice mindfulness, we are rewiring our brains and engaging our innate soothing systems that lower our stress reactions and respond to it with intentional, warm-hearted care.

I’ve been a fan of Bruce Lipton’s work for many years now having learned a great deal about how we shape our reality through our belief systems in his book Biology of Belief.

In this video he debunks the myth that as humans we only use 10% of our brain. With a greater understand of neurobiology we are learning how to support ‘superlearning’ through engagement of both the left and right hemispheres through certain activities such as mindfulness and yoga.

This short video is well worth a watch.

Carrying the Weight of Your Life – Self Compassion Break

Posted on: July 22nd, 2015 by admin No Comments

In life there are no guarantees. We win some we lose some. Inevitably, we find ourselves in small but significant ways, suffering in our lives. It’s what connects all humans together in this thing we call life. Pain x Resistance = Suffering. Chris Germer, author of Mindful Path to Self Compassion describes suffering as the “mental anguish caused by fighting against the fact that life is sometimes painful.”

Every day we have the little dissatisfactions that we carry with us as they accumulate like a cloud pressuring with rain before the storm.  If we are living normal-ish lives, we may not always consider our suffering ‘suffering’. When we are unable to acknowledge our suffering, no matter how small, we can affect our happiness and those around us unintentionally.

As we carry the weight of our concerns we can become comfortable with the level of unease within ourselves and reacquainted with this denseness of it all. Whether we are at work and a colleague quips a sarcastic comment you way, it seems to penetrate right to the heart of you as you feel yet another sting of your tenderized and heavy heart.

There’s a Buddhist tale of two monks who are on a pilgrimage to a great teacher. On their journey they encountered a river and met a young woman who was afraid to cross due to strong currents. She asked the monks to carry her to the other side and one monk responded with disgust the other without hesitation carried her safely across.

As the two monks continued on their journey, the disgusted monk snapped: “Brother, we are taught to avoid contact with women as part of our vow and you not only made contact, you carried that woman!”

The other monk smiled warmly and kindly replied: “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river; you are the one still carrying her.”

Our strategy for coping with life’s inevitable troubles are outdated, no longer serving the purpose it intends as the fallout from failed attempts to change things sits on top of your motivation like a stink pile of disappointment as your load gets overwhelming. Your breakdowns may result in ruminations of overindulging or under-indulging or even punishing behaviours. When you are depressed or stressed you find ways of distracting, avoiding, eating, projecting, displacing and all out denial of how deeply you are actually affected as you stiffen up your lip and bash yourself for being weak and unwilling to really be happy.

There are others of us who may feel undeserving of feeling happy, loved; Others feel that they are there to provide this for others, unconditionally and the challenge is not to worry so much… So you worry that you’re worried and now the drain of caring for the people you love leaves you feeling ashamed and more undeserving.

Suffering. We all suffer. We all wish not to suffer.

Learning a different way to approach life’s suffering is about being gentle, kind and understanding with yourself for having suffering. Self compassion is the quality of awareness you bring to the intention to sooth yourself because you are suffering.

An easy way to understand compassion and the action of kindness it is sometimes helpful to consider a beloved pet or a person whom you have warm regard for, like a best friend. Imagine if they were suffering and how you may feel and what you may like to share with them that would bring them some comfort of being understood.

Here’s a self compassion practice – called “Self Compassion Break”

Put your hand(s) on your heart or hug yourself

Breathe deeply in and out

Speak kindly to yourself, with sincere intention of the words:

  • This is a moment of difficulty

  • Difficulties are a part of everybody’s life

  • May I respond with kindness

When you first begin you may find it uncomfortable to respond to your suffering with kindness… That’s okay. Compassion is a training. Compassion practice is cultivating resources that you can use in your time of difficulty. This ability to respond to your pain and suffering with kindness means you can move with more ease, lighter, like a feather on the breeze.

Author: Brenda Bentley, Mindfulness & Compassion Teacher


We Carry Our Stories, By Alexa Torontow

We carry our stories like the clouds hold the rain.

Slowly collecting, moment by moment.

Woven into every layer and every cell.

As time passes

the pain, the trauma, the hurt and the joy


So subtlety. So quietly.

It fills and fills, until the perfectly imperfect moment of ripeness.

Pregnant with potential to over flow.

Expanding, filling, collecting

until it peaks.

The rain pours and the tears fall.

Freely, uncontrollably and necessarily.

Cyclically washing away what was.

Clearing for what is.

As we sweetly become more aware of this invisible process,

occurring within us and around us,

we may adjust what we decide to hold onto and for how long.

We may allow it to fall away

as sweetly as the clouds release the rain.

For we can’t stop the cycle,

yet we can refine how we maneuver among it.

Tuning into what has been woven

and what we are weaving

in each and every moment.





Speak Kindness [self compassion self talk]

Posted on: June 23rd, 2015 by admin No Comments

I recently saw an article on Psychology Today blog that inspired this article. Self-compassion is the cure for self-attacking and understanding this and how it applies to living mindfully is learning to speak with kindness and gentleness to ourselves.

In the 8-week MBCT course, week 7 we look at ways we can best take care of ourselves and self-compassion is essential part of this. Learning that we have needs and want to get them met, but sometimes, that inevitably that will not occur, so self-compassion is our essential action that supports our living mindfully.

Here are some examples of self-compassionate self talk that offer understanding and kindness with honesty and love. Speak these in times of difficulty or upset – ensuring that your tone is sincere and nurturing:

  • What am I needing right now?
  • This is a moment of difficulty. I am aware of my worry, pain, overwhelm.
  • What would I suggest to my best friend (or child or loved one) right now?
  • I am safe to feel what I am feeling right now. I am willing to feel. What is this feeling teaching me right now?
  • I know what I don’t want, but what would I prefer instead?
  • I validate how I am feeling. Whatever I am feeling is what this moment contains and I am safe.
  • This difficulty is difficult and my awareness of this difficulty opens me to equanimity.
  • I am a human being. I hold myself to a human standard, for to not do so I am treating myself inhumanely.
  • Other people are not responsible for my feelings and I am willing to take responsibility for how I feel.
  • Asking for help takes courage. I am courageous when I show I am vulnerable.

Find words that work for you. Write them down and carry them with you. Refer to them when tempted to react – choose a skilful response and mindful, self-compassion action.



Mindfulness in the Middle of the Mall

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by admin No Comments

Selfridge’s is a department store in the UK, one of the best I’m told. I’ve browsed through the shop and adore the make-up counters, but not much of a mall-person so to speak. When I was asked to teach mindfulness during a promotion at Selfridge’s Work It Hub such as laughter yoga, self defense and salsa dancing — right in the middle of the mall. I guess in hindsight my expectation was a side-room, or something that was enclosed – so the openness and busyness of the open space was a surprise – especially considering I am teaching the public basic mindfulness meditation philosophy and practice in 30 minutes. With a microphone fitted to my lapel, a handful of participants and bright stage lights toasting my back, I began. The experience was great – and the feedback positive. A few more workshops are forthcoming – and you can find more details here:


selfridges mindfulness

Take a Mindfulness Break Infographic

Posted on: March 31st, 2015 by admin No Comments

mindfulness break exercise

Hooked on Anti-Depressants

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by admin No Comments

According to an article in the Express, there are over 50 million prescriptions written for anti-depressant drugs each year – enough for each adult and child in the UK. Our consumption of happy pills has increased five times since 1991. Is it working? Studies suggest we are not any happier.

The figures taken from Mind’s website show the Government’s Health and Social Care Information Centre increase of prescriptions from 22 million in 2000 to more than 53 million in 2013 and Mind’s Chief Executive Paul Farmer stated that, “We must remember that while antidepressants can be very effective for some, they are not the solution for everyone and they should never be used as a first-line treatment for mild depression.

“The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world. As we near this next landmark it’s important that GPs are prepared and have a full range of treatment options available for patients experiencing depression.”

Joanna Moncrieff, a leading psychiatrist and senior lecturer at University College London called the figures “shocking”. She added: “These figures suggest we are medicalising people’s distress and suffering. However, we do not have good evidence that these drugs make people better. Over the long term prescribing drugs so readily encourages people to feel they cannot sort problems out. We have numerous reports that some people have great difficulty coming off drugs and suffer serious and long-term damaging effects of withdrawal.”

“These figures suggest we are medicalising people’s distress and suffering.” Joanna Moncrieff, a leading psychiatrist and senior lecturer at University College London

Are we any happier? The BBC News’ website published an article discussing happiness on May 2, 2006.

According to the article, British people today aren’t as happy as those who lived in the 1950’s even though people are earning more. I guess it’s true that money can’t buy us happiness.


In the Happy Documentary it charts economic growth against our happiness is static. You can watch this clip here:

The Hedonic Treadmill means we all have the default level of happiness that we go back to after the elation of newness wears off – we want more than we had before and always will. Further the documentary charts what contributes to our happiness – breaking it down it’s 50% genetic disposition, 10% circumstantial and 40% is intention. That means you have a huge influence on how you respond to difficulties which determines how happy or unhappy you are.


When I saw the documentary I was surprised that so little is put to circumstance, but it makes sense. In mindfulness we learn about how to regulate our attention intentionally and respond skilfully to difficulty – mindfully. This means that when we are faced with a difficult situation we know we have choice in how we respond – we are empowered by choice. This choice point is important and could it be that with medication we are disempowered to learn to cope with difficulties as we expect the medication to take the edge off of emotions so we are not as affected – essentially numbing us so we can not feel it?

What do you think or feel about that? Drop your opinions below!


Practice Evenings

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by admin No Comments

Practice evenings will begin again in September 2015. The practice evening is open to those with any  or no experience in mindfulness based meditation or compassion training who are looking to enrich and sustain their practice. Please note this is not a teaching course, but the aim is to help guide participants by directive practice and reflection on all aspects of mindfulness, meditation, compassion, awareness, attitudes and intention.

The practice sessions take place the 1st Thursday evening of each month from 19:00 to 20:30. Advanced booking is required as places are limited.

Join our Meetup Group for details on events and to RSVP.


Q & A Depression and Practising Mindfulness

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by admin No Comments

Last night a participant asked about how to practice MBCT with depressive / lonely thoughts.

Q: Depression… Everyone experiences depressed mood at some point in their lives. A depressive episode can last for days, weeks or months. How can we be mindful when we can even seemingly get up out of bed?

A: Low mood states can cause a reverse motivation – it’s the “I’ll do it when I feel up to it,” which we may not feel like for some time and we may not think we will ever. Practicing mindfulness we need to have motivation that is the “I do this even if I don’t feel up for it.” The key is to understand that intention and motivation for practising is what calls us to take action, even when we don’t feel like it. We understand that practising mindfulness, we create an anchor in the present moment where we can create a space around problematic thinking patterns, more readily. The practice is the teacher.

Depression can be pervasive because we cannot see past the fog of it. It’s heavy and we feel weighed down by the enormity of our being. Winston Churchill described his depression as a “black dog” that followed him everywhere. The World Health Organization has this wonderful video that shows us about the black dog of depression is like:

Depression can be caused by life circumstances such as loss – losing a job, death of a loved one, end of a relationship. It can be a product of overwhelm – having been fighting too long to try to be happy, we make ourselves miserable. It can be a chemical imbalance within the brain – lack of serotonin and an influx of other stress related chemicals such as cortisol. It can be related to lifestyle – poor nutrition, lack of exercise, exasperated health problems. Perhaps it all of the former that are contributing to a cycle of depression. Whatever the catalyst for depression, it’s our relationship to it that matter most.

When dealing with low mood states in a depressive episode, it’s important to understand that rumination is often at the foundation of it. Rumination means to chew again and again on what has already been chewed.

rumination and mindfulness





The second definition above is “to engage in contemplation.” In low mood states, this contemplation and ruminates in a pessimistic pattern of thinking that discounts all positives in our life. We see and think about the problems we have experienced in the past and anticipate that this is the way it will always be. There is a sense of hopelessness to this. Our mind is full of the black dog… and we cannot see our way out of it. Every avenue of thought ends with things not changing and the fuels the hopelessness. We become more disconnected from life and this can fuel feelings of loneliness.

black dog mindfulness for depression

Image from WHO










When our mind if full of depression and this gives rise to feelings of hopelessness and loneliness, learning a new skill such as mindfulness can prove quite difficult. It is recommended that although you can cultivate an understanding of mindfulness practice, the actual practice is best saved until you are out of your depressive episode. Episodes have a lifespan – at some point you will begin to feel a bit better – and in that moment, when you decide that you are willing to do something different is the time to begin the practice. The reason is that with your current mindset, you may be experiencing reverse motivation or the actual practice difficult. The experience of difficulty creates a barrier to the practice as you evaluate the difficulty of practising as meaning something about your abilities or capabilities or it’s yet more evidence of perceived inadequacy or that it doesn’t work. This feeds into a negative loop that deepens the feelings of hopelessness.

This negative loop is a pattern matching process in the mind that occurs and reinforces the depressive cycle which can make a person more susceptible to depressive moods and refreshing those losses again. For example, you begin to feel sad, you may not even know what you are sad about, you may look for a reason why you are sad, perhaps you do have a reason to be sad – your mind will reawaken like and similar thoughts of sad times in your mind creating a more profound and persistent state of sad. You begin to ruminate on this state with thoughts such as, “Here we go again. When will it end this time? I really cannot stand any more of this. It’s all so hopeless.” The negative thought loop on a downward spiral and you’re feeling more and more depressed and lonely. The black dog is here again. How long will he stay?

People experiencing depression can benefit from practice if they are beginning to get to a point of hopefulness – even the smallest spark to be willing to do something to change their thoughts to something more resourceful. This change is, “I want to feel better.” This intention to feel better can bring you to the very action to find support for yourself – through an empathetic friend, therapist or counsellor – or learning a skill which gives you a sense of mastery such as mindfulness.

Mindfulness can help you at this point to change your relationship to your black dog. Just like in the video – you learn to manage it differently. You learn to settle the unsettled mind. Tame the intrusive thoughts through practice and take mindful action to be kind to yourself – eat well, exercise and engage more with life – all a part of a healthy and contented lifestyle. I tell participants that, “Compassion is the opposite of rumination.” It is the practice of clearly seeing your suffering and meeting it with kind action.

Is mindfulness the cure for depression? No. Not in and of itself. It is a powerful tool to help you to break out of rumination and negative thought patterns by changing your relationship to it. You will learn the early warning signs of depressive relapse and take mindful action in a kind and compassionate way towards yourself that can bring lasting change. Your black dog may still come for a visit occasionally the length between visits and the duration of each visit will be shortened with your mindful mindset. “You are what you practice.” If you practice being sad, you’ll get really good at it and it will seem natural state of mind for you. Practising being mindfulness means you are practising a whole different way of relating to life from a present moment perspective, with motivation based on value, intention, and acceptance.

mindfulness for depression

Image from WHO