8 week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy course

 

Brendan Clarke

BABCP registered Cognitive Behavioural Theapist

What is Mindfulness?

The word mindfulness is one that’s been used a lot in recent times. Like anything that’s repeated again and again, it can start to lose its meaning. So, what is mindfulness and how can it be beneficial for you? I’ll try to answer these 2 questions in this short passage.

The short answer is that it is a practice in which we develop our ability to pay attention to the present moment. We mainly do this by paying attention to the breath and the body. When our attention wanders away from the breath and body, whether that is to the past, the future, to certain thinking patterns, or anything else, we aim to  notice that, and then gently guide it back again. As well as the breath, we can also practice mindfulness towards sights, sounds and other sensations, as long as they are in the present. 

Why is this useful?

Of course we need our minds to wander into the past and the future, because that’s how we make sense of what has happened and plan for what might happen. Mindfulness practitioners call this “Doing Mode”, whereby we are actively trying to analyse the world. But if we are in “Doing mode” all the time, it reduces our awareness of our senses and that can dull the richness of our lives. If you’d like to experience what I mean, get a Mars bar, or some other snack that you like the taste of. Now, as you eat it, I want you keep multiplying 2 by 2. See how high you can go. 

Ok, when you’re ready – go!

How did the Mars Bar taste? My guess is not particularly interesting. That’s because when we are conscious of our thoughts, for example when we’re reliving something sad or embarrassing from the past and turning it over and over in our minds, then we are less conscious of our present moment experience. If we’re caught up in thinking a lot of the time, it can drain some of the enjoyment and colour out of life.

Being Mode versus Doing Mode

One thing that mindfulness practice can do is to develop an alternative frame of mind, which we call “Being Mode”. This helps to give us a greater awareness of our senses, which in itself, can make our experience of life richer. But there’s another important aspect to “Being Mode.” Sometimes our thought processes are fairly harmless, like multiplying 2 by 2. But sometimes they can be damaging to our mental wellbeing. It’s natural for most of us to occasionally get wrapped up in thoughts about upsetting things that have happened in the past, or in scary things that might or might not happen in the future. Psychologists often refer to these repetitive thought patterns as ‘rumination’. We know that what we think affects how we feel. And the longer we spend thinking about it, the more it affects our feelings. So if we spend a large portion of our day following trains of thought that are either sad, frightening or painful, this will affect our mood. Researchers have found that rumination is a major factor in depression and anxiety.

This is where the second benefit of mindfulness comes in – it helps to give us more control over whether we engage in rumination or not. Imagine that your mind is like the platform at a train station. All day long trains (of thought) are passing by. Often, we will jump on the first train that passes, regardless of whether it is headed somewhere good or not. Before long we can be wrapped up in thinking about something we’d much rather not. With mindfulness practice, we can develop the ability to stand at the platform and just watch the trains go by. That is, we can exert a conscious influence over our thinking, and in doing so, have a knock-on positive effect on our mood. 

8-Week Course

The above is exactly what we practise doing over our 8 week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy course. We also look at how current neuroscience can tell us more about how mindfulness works.

When is it starting?

Our next course will begin on Saturday January 29th 2022, 10:30am -12:30pm and will run every Saturday for 8 weeks

How much does it cost?

The course costs €250

How do I book?

You can book by calling us at EBTC on 091 727 777, or emailing secretary@ebtc.ie and putting ‘8-Week MBCT course’ in the subject heading.