Mindfulness-Based Creativity (MBCr)

8 week course Priory Street Centre, York
25 Sep – 20 Nov 2018
From 10:30 to 13:00
£250 to £275


Mindfulness Based Creativity (MBCr) is an 8-week group course exploring the relationship between mindfulness and creativity as a means of playfully enhancing wellbeing and getting in touch with living the life we always imagined.

More Curiosity than Fear*

Benefits from attending an MBCr course include

  • getting in touch with your playful side
  • finding new ways of being creative
  • enjoying mindfulness from a different angle

Course Overview

If you already have a creative pursuit and would like to bring more mindfulness into your practice then this course is for you. If the ‘C’ word (creativity) terrifies you this is exactly the course for you!

Our MBCr course combines many of the elements of the more established 8-week MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) and MBCT (mindfulness based cognitive therapy) courses but includes components of playful creativity in each session as well. MBCr provides an exploration of how mindfulness and creativity can mutually support and nourish each other. Each class includes guided mindfulness meditations, group discussions and practical creative (writing and drawing) exercises over eight weekly classes. All led by two experienced facilitators in a warm, friendly atmosphere with a maximum of 14 participants.

Using Jon Kabat Zinn’s Attitudinal Foundations of mindfulness (also known as the 7 Pillars of Mindfulness) as our guide we will explore what having more curiosity than fear could look like, feel like and ultimately mean in our lives.

Course Content

Week 1 – Beginner’s Mind

Week 2 – Non-judging

Week 3 – Acceptance

Week 4 – Patience

Week 5 – Trust

Week 6 – Letting Go

Week 7 – Non-striving

Week 8 – Beginner’s Mind

Who Can Attend

This course is suitable for beginners (to both mindfulness and/or creativity), as well as those wishing to refresh or deepen their mindfulness practice, or explore their creativity in a new way. We invite everyone to put aside their previous knowledge and experience (or lack of it!) and engage a Beginner’s Mind.

Participants may join for a variety of reasons; simply taking the time to prioritise their wellbeing, wishing to rekindle a past nourishing activity; facing a fear; or recognising the health benefits of engaging with creative pursuits.

Please note as well as the course fee you will need to already have or purchase a York Museums Trust membership card, for access to the Art Gallery. This is £22 per person or £11 if you are on means tested benefits or a York resident. Membership is free to York residents on means tested benefits. The YMT Card gives unlimited free entry to York Castle Museum, York Art Gallery and the Yorkshire Museum & Gardens for 12 months from the date of your purchase. This can be purchased just before the first session.

Commitment Required

Please note that MBCr is not designed to be a “quick fix”, relaxation class or group therapy session. Nor is it simply a drawing or writing class. The goal will not be to have pristine and finished pieces of work to take home, but to use these playful exercises to engage in learning a valuable life skill offering many potential benefits. The development of this requires a personal commitment to attending all eight classes and developing regular meditation and creative practices at home. As each class builds on the preceding week, we would recommend that anyone who misses a class attends a “catch up session” – please see the FAQ below. We are happy to accommodate this in the case of illness etc., but regret that if more than two classes are missed you may not be able to finish the course. We therefore recommend carefully checking the course schedule below before reserving a place. Thank you.

Is it the right time for me to attend a mindfulness course?

It is not unusual for people to attend mindfulness courses during periods of change and/or difficulty in their lives with many often finding mindfulness courses both more challenging and more rewarding than they expected.

There are however times when attending a group mindfulness course might not be beneficial. UMASS (the university from which Mindfulness-Based Interventions originate) list the following as areas requiring particular care ‘addiction, early recovery, untreated psychosis, acute depression, suicidality, PTSD, social anxiety, recent loss’. These circumstances or conditions do not necessarily rule out the possibility of attending a class as suitability is very much influenced by

  • your current psychological health,
  • the extent to which you have previously explored areas of particular difficulty and
  • the support networks that you have around you, such as friends, family and mental health professionals.

We would ask that if any of these apply that they are clearly stated on your booking form alongside details of the points above. The booking form is also an opportunity to make us aware of any other additional needs you may have.

If you are currently receiving treatment for an ongoing mental health problem we strongly advise that you discuss your course attendance with your mental health professional before booking. We would also strongly recommend not making any changes to any medication during or immediately after a course – however well you may be feeling at that time. Instead giving yourself time to fully establish your mindfulness practice and any new routines associated with it before considering subsequent changes with a trained healthcare professional.

Please contact the course instructor to discuss any questions or concerns you may have regarding course suitability. They will be happy to discuss your particular circumstances and how you may best be supported during the course. If a course is not felt to be suitable at this time alternatives options including, for example, suggesting healthcare professionals who integrate mindfulness into their work.

Course Schedule

This course will be taught over eight classes from 25th September to 20th November (excluding a break on 30th October). Each class will be 2.5 hours long and will take place on Tuesdays from 10.30 to 13.00.

Course Facilitators

The facilitators for this course are Dr. Lauri Bower and Clare Belbin.

Lauri has 30 years experience of mindfulness and meditation practice, and has been managing courses and retreats for 15 years. She joined the York MBSR team in 2012 and completed a Ph.D. in Mindfulness in 2014. To date, over 300 people have completed mindfulness courses with Lauri.

She has always engaged with creative pursuits in sewing, dressmaking, embroidery, calligraphy, jewellery and bookbinding and since 2012 has been exploring how the practise of mindfulness informs her poetry writing. She regularly posts poems and her creative work to her blogs: Mindful Living and Creative Living.

Lauri’s own experience of fear overcoming curiosity was on an Art Foundation course. She had a good enough portfolio to get onto the course but in the middle of one life-drawing class the tutor explicitly said to her, ‘don’t draw! You can’t draw!’ And she spent many years believing this until she was fortunate enough to meet Clare who managed to teach her otherwise!

Clare studied Fine Art at Newcastle and completed her postgraduate degree at Edinburgh. She is the artist-in-residence at Helmsley Walled Garden and can often be found painting in the garden. Her work is a daily, animated study through the seasons – winter earth, first shoots, blossom, fruit and leaf fall. This constant change generates a natural curiosity for her to search for ever more fresh observation.

The exercises offered by Clare in the course are deeply rooted in her daily practice of drawing and painting in Helmsley Walled Garden.

Clare has been fully committed to her practice of mindfulness for over ten years, enjoying the support of meditation groups in York and Kirkbymoorside, it is a central part of her life. Her practice transforms and enlivens everything she does and enabled her to work with the demands of a complex life managing a large shared household to benefit the needs of adults with special needs, alongside bringing up her own four children. www.clarebelbin.com

Frequently Asked Questions…

What creative aspects are covered on the course?

Creativity can take many different forms, including how we build a home, cook a meal, or create an atmosphere where people feel relaxed. For the purposes of the course these are specifically writing and drawing as we consider these to be the solid foundations upon which to build creativity into all areas of our lives. All creativity involves an openness to what is in front of us, noticing what is present which is why we use the term ‘more curiosity than fear’.

Writing and drawing exercises can help to address the fundamental reason many people don’t engage creatively, because of fear. How many of us experienced a time, often at school, when we were told we couldn’t draw, or write creatively? What impact did this then have? How does this belief possibly impact our lives more subtly now? Writing and drawing are basic elements that children do naturally, until they learn one way or another that they are no good, or not as good as others and so they can stop writing or drawing creatively. Give a young child a pen or pencil and they will instinctively make marks until fear becomes greater than curiosity and they stop. Through this course we encourage you to unlearn the habits of judging and saying to yourself, ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘it’s no good’ and to have a go. Fear can be very constricting and so we encourage a playful sense of fun and curiosity in each session.

In our technological age where many things can be achieved rapidly on a computer we can lose the skills of basic mark-making. Once people have left school they may no longer need to write with a pen or pencil and instead communicate by text or email. Yet by engaging with, and giving ourselves the opportunity to enjoy, the more physical activity of writing or drawing we are engaging and stimulating a different part of the brain. The physical act of writing or drawing can allow us to be fully immersed in the activity and engage in a subtle relationship with our materials and implements.

What if I miss a class?

We are happy to provide catch up sessions for delegates who miss a class. Catch ups are usually provided on a one-to-one basis with one of the course instructors and take 30 minutes to complete. There is a nominal charge of £15 for this service.

Is there disabled access to the venue?

The venue is accessible.

What further information will I receive?

All our delegates receive “Joining Advice” one week before their course commences. This email will include information on the class schedule, venue and facilities, and a link to our “pre-course questionnaire” which we would be grateful if you could complete before the course commences.

What is your cancellation policy?

If you decide to cancel your place on this course, we will refund…

  • Your full course fee, minus a £20 administration charge, if we receive notice from you at least 7 days before the 1st class
  • 75% of your course fee if notice is given before the 2nd class
  • 50% of your course fee if notice is given before the 3rd class
  • No refunds will be issued after the 3rd class

In the case that the course is cancelled by NCMC, all course fees will be refunded in full.

I am considering training to teach mindfulness, will an MBCr course enable me to do this?

For those looking to teach mindfulness we would recommend having a look at the UK Network for Mindfulness Based Teacher Training Organisations which gives guidance on good practice and teacher training organisations within the UK. An 8-week MBSR, MBCT course or 10-week MBLC is generally considered a good starting point and often a pre-requisite to attending teaching training. Please note however that our MBCT courses are restricted to those who suffer personally from depression and as such we don’t offer places on our MBCT courses for those seeking professional development. We would recommend instead attending either an MBSR or MBLC course. If you are looking to follow a particular training route it is worth checking any stipulated pre-requisites with your training provider.

My organisation are interested in/supportive of mindfulness – do you offer in-house training?

Yes we offer a full range of in-house mindfulness training, including stress reduction, resilience, change management, compassionate care, creativity and leadership development. Introductory workshops are an important first step for those wishing to offer mindfulness training. Please email relax@yorkmbsr.co.uk for further information. We have also agreed employee discounts with a number of local organisations. If you are unsure as to whether or not your organisation has this offer in place please check with your HR/Staff Benefits/Management team.

* Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear.