One of the best online stress management with mindfulness courses is the free Palouse Mindfulness-based Stress Management Course. This course was a turning point for me, it helped me put mindfulness into practice, formally and informally. I finally understood what it was all about and was able to benefit fully from the extended list of beneficial effects that mindfulness can have on your physical and mental health. I highly recommend this course. If you are attending a workshop with us, I suggest that you count the workshop as the first of the 8 weeks of the course and complete the other 7 weeks once you get home.
Being a medical doctor, I did not believe in the value of these benefits without scientific proof. If you are like me, you will find ample proof of the effectiveness of mindfulness here, as well as here.
You will not be surprised that I have incorporated a lot of what I have learned while taking this course into our mindfulness and meditation workshops here in the south of France.
The main benefit of mindfulness, as far as I am concerned, is that it reduces stress and thus significantly lowers your chances of getting stress related diseases like high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, heart attacks and strokes. It has many other benefits – Mindfulness is an awesome tool that helps us understand, accept and process our emotions in healthy ways. It helps us to change our usual automatic responses by enabling us to stop and think before we choose how we are going to act. It also
- increases our ability to focus and concentrate, making us more productive
- makes us more objective which helps us handle crisis situations more effectively
- gives us more cognitive flexibility which can increase our creativity
- makes us less emotionally reactive and more tolerant which enhances our relationships at work and at home
- boosts our working memory
- reduces rumination (worrying) and helps us to sleep better
- increases our self-awareness which often leads to us taking better care of ourselves by getting regular health check-ups, getting regular exercise, eating healthily, using seat belts and avoiding nicotine, drugs and alcohol
In short, mindfulness can dramatically increase the quality of our lives.
It is definitely a habit worth cultivating. However, just reading about mindfulness will not enable you to benefit from it. You are going to have to start practising mindfulness if you want it to enable you to cope better with stress. Daily.
During our workshops, we divide mindfulness practice into two parts: formal and informal practice. We encourage our workshop participants to practice mindfulness formally for 20 to 30 minutes every day, using the body scan method as introduced by Prof Kabat-Zinn. We suggest to our workshop participants that they choose a time of day to do this practice that they will be able to continue with once they get home.
If you are participating in one of our workshops, to get the most from your workshop, you will want to answer each of the following questions:
Why am I starting this practice? (What do you hope to gain from practising mindfulness? Have a look at the benefits listed above.)
When will I practice? (Be specific, e.g., 6:30am M-F, 7:30am Sat/Sun)
Where am I going to practice? (e.g., in my bedroom, sitting room, garden, study etc.):
This is the recording we use for formal mindfulness practice:
It is difficult (though not impossible) to start a daily mindfulness practice your own. It is easier to do so during a workshop, as you have all the time you need and there are few distractions to sabotage your efforts. In addition, we also create opportunities for you to practice mindfulness informally by taking you on field trips. Unlike the formal practice, you don’t have to choose a specific time of the day to do this. All you need to do is to decide to become more aware, first during the field trips and later, when you get home, to the activities that you already do every day. During the workshop, at the end of each day, spend five minutes reflecting on your informal mindfulness practice that day. Continue doing this once you get home. You will benefit most from this practice if you make a few notes each evening.
Although this may look less valuable than the 20-30 minutes of formal practice, it is by doing the informal practice that you will notice the benefits of practising mindfulness.