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Posts from the ‘compassion’ Category

Introducing Heartfulness- Balanced Mind: Kind Mind Course

April 11th, 2017

Heather Johnston

IMG_4534As many of you are aware, over the last year I have been doing some additional mindfulness training focused on friendship (or loving kindness) and compassion practices. I am now one of the first 20 or so people trained in this new course in the UK while it has been running for a longer time in Europe! I have personally gained so much from these practices- a greater feeling of happiness, a way of self soothing when things get tough and for those of us in the caring and helping professions a way of dealing with the possibilities of burnout from empathy fatigue.

I am running the course in 2 parts, before and after the summer hols. Designed as either a stand alone course or as a continuation from other mindfulness courses. This course centres around developing kindness, compassion and self compassion, joy and equanimity. Our best homes.

The material is developed from the work of Sharon Salzberg, Paul Gilbert and Erik van den Brink (mindfulness based compassionate living). It is underpinned with the latest research into affective and social neuroscience and what we need to build a happy healthy mind. This is complemented with the latest from positive psychology and the long lineage of metta meditation. Which means loving kindness or friendship.

The course is particularly helpful to those that care for others, both in a professional and non professional capacity. Helping us find balance, nourish and develop kindness and compassion for ourselves and others

Course Outline

Each course focuses on eight key themes, all interlinking and building each week through home practice.

Session 1: Our three emotional regulation systems

Session 2: Stress reactions and self compassion

Session 3: Our inner patterns (your internal voice)

Session 4: Compassion

Session 5: Our relationship with ourself and others

Session 6: Our common humanity and happiness for all

Session 7: Heartfulness in daily life

Session 8: Self healing and compassion

Self directed, choice based home practise is an integral part of the course, as it enables you to establish the skills that you are learning and apply them and see the benefits in your daily life. Participants are encouraged to be kind with themselves in finding a way to make heartfulness practise work for them.

Benefits of kindness, compassion and self compassion

Loving-kindness meditation was best in increasing positively valenced and other- focused thought and was the only practice to positively link thoughts of self and others.

The following was adapted from the Greater Good’s article on the top 10 insights of the science of a meaningful life:

A German study led by Tania Singer, recruited novice meditators to participate in a nine-month mindfulness training. They learned four different types of meditation: breathing meditation, body scan, loving-kindness meditation, and observing-thought meditation. In the end, the researchers found some common benefits: During every type of meditation, participants reported feeling more positive emotions, more energetic, more focused on the present, and less distracted by thoughts than they did before beginning—perhaps thanks to the attention training that’s common to all meditation. Loving-kindness meditation led to the greatest boost in their feelings of warmth and positive thoughts about others.

How much, When and Where?

I am currently focusing on my work within organisations. If you are interested in bringing mindfulness and/or compassion practices to your workplace do get in contact.

To undertake this course it is useful to have some grounding in mindfulness meditation…or the course can be taken as a standalone or deepening and expanding the meditation experience developed through other mindfulness courses such as MBSR or MBCT.

Who should attend mindfulness courses?

Mindfulness is generally available to most people, however for some it may be best to be trained by someone with a specific clinical qualification (such as those with an acute mental health condition).

For some people challenges can arise while meditating for a number of different reasons. While each of us is different, If you are going through a major life event (such as having been recently bereaved or divorced) or suffering from mental ill health (eg acute depression) have a learning disability or have just been diagnosed with an upsetting physical illness (eg cancer) it is best to wait and leave attending a course until life is a little more settled for you or find a course that is more specialised to your particular needs. This can be discussed with Heather and it is for this reason why we ask everyone to fill in a course screening form so that we can best support your needs or help you to find someone who can.

The course is not designed to discuss any current or past personal problems not related to the practises and if necessary, these should be pursued through individual work with a counsellor or other appropriate support.

My training

Heather has undertaken two MBSR/MBCT teacher training retreats (TTR 1&2) with the Centre for mindfulness and research practice at the University of Bangor, one of the leaders in the field for mindfulness in the UK, along with advanced mindfulness training course in mindfulness based compassionate living and further training in deep listening. Some of the people that have trained Heather include: Michael Chaskalson, Trish Bartley, Jody Mardula, Sarah Silverton, Erik van den Brink, Ros Oliver, Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter. She has also attended masterclasses with: Profs Paul Gilbert, Tania Singer and Associate Professor Kristin Neff. See my bio here.

What have you done to help others lately?

November 4th, 2013

Heather Johnston

Why do I ask? Because it may just help you too…At the end of October, I attended the empathy and compassion conference in society and was transported into a truly inspiring atmosphere of the latest research and thinking around ways to help improve our individual and collective resilience, so as to build a more compassionate society.

We as human beings are naturally programmed to help others, you only need to look at acts of bravery and courage (both big and small) to see how much they are rooted in putting other people before ourselves.

Taking a secular view on thinking from Buddhist meditation practices, researchers have found that those that meditate regularly develop an ability to self soothe themselves when times get tough, maintain perspective and once they get themselves balanced have a greater ability to act compassionately towards others without getting burnout.

The key? Is self compassion. When things gets tough in our ‘threat and drive’ based work organisations we all have a tendency to be our biggest internal critic and this then leeches out into a wider culture of the survival of the strongest with potentially devastating impact on people’s wellbeing, cooperation, productivity and society as a whole.

Through starting to be kinder to ourselves and being a bit more self compassionate, we naturally will start to act more compassionately towards others and this can impact up to 3 degrees of separation from ourselves, as well as increase our own wellbeing and happiness. Benefits to work organisations? Researchers have shown this is good for business too..those that start to develop more balanced work cultures that value acts of giving towards others see increased staff loyalty, increased customer service and reduced turnover as well as a reduced health bill from the impact of stress.

Want to find out where to start? Have a look at the links through this article and all it takes to get going is just 7 minutes meditation a day to take a deep breath, stop and be still. Spending time becoming aware of our own mind is a first step towards helping yourself and helping others.


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