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What mindfulness course is right for you?

29 March 2019 | , Timothea Goddard | Mindfulness Courses ,

There is a dazzling array of mindfulness offerings around lately, so how to choose?  

Here is a chart that maps out different kinds of training - from the most accessible and easy to the most demanding and involved - and let’s you know where the programs we offer (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and related programs) sits in the scheme of things.

Obviously, the more you put in, the more you will benefit. A rule of thumb might be to choose a pathway that suits your immediate needs, knowing that these needs may change as you practice. Many short or online courses or apps are fine if the stakes are not very high and you just want to dip your toe in and get a sense of what the hype is about.  But if you have some current challenges (stress, anxiety, depression, pain, illness) a short course may not be of much benefit even though it is cheaper and won’t take up much of your time.



Phone apps, online & short courses 

Description  Introductory secular ‘taste’ of mindfulness  
Commitment  Short term, very little commitment 
Practice required  Everyday mindfulness and short practices. Great for saving time but not so great for changing your brain.
Involvement of a teacher  Sometimes, often not and the training of the teacher might be variable in terms of professional and personal immersion in the practice. 
Benefits   More present moment awareness. Not much evidence for helping with serious challenges

Mindfulness Based Programs: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Description  Basic secular evidence-based training to enhance resilience, focus, emotional intelligence and engagement in life and also to treat stress, anxiety, depression, pain and other conditions. See here for more info.
Commitment  It involves an initial 8 week intensive immersion and then ongoing longer term personal practice if inspired.                   
Practice required  You will need to commit to some formal meditation practice and also linking what you are learning to your everyday activities and relationships. This is where the power of the program is. 
Involvement of a teacher   Yes. If it is a bona fide MBSR or MBCT course it will be taught by someone who has years of training and meditation practice under their belts, including silent retreat experience.
Benefits  Good evidence for reduction of stress, anxiety, depression, pain, trauma and increased resilience and ease 

Training in Buddhist teachings & practice 

Description  In-depth, ongoing personal exploration through retreats and teachings  
Commitment  You can take it as you go, but you will need to be self-directed and find a method that suits you. 
Practice required  Formal mediation training retreats, study and everyday mindfulness 
Involvement of a teacher  Yes. But you will need to do some research to find a method and teacher that you can relate to.
Benefits   Cultivation of stable states of safety, peace and connectedness

Intensive Buddhist training in monastic settings 

Description  Spiritual training to explore the nature of reality and the mind  
Commitment  Long term, demanding  
Practice required  Intensive formal meditation training, study and everyday mindfulness 
Involvement of a teacher  Yes 
Benefits  Extensive transformation of suffering in ones' life