Mindfulness course FAQs

For specific course questions such as venue, timings, missing classes, disabled access and our cancellation policy please see the relevant course page – a list of our upcoming courses and events can be found here.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness involves developing a present moment awareness of your own experience, without judgement. Whilst this sounds easy, in practice it can be difficult as the mind is habitually used to being distracted. Mindfulness meditation involves continually bringing the attention back to the present moment or current focus, all with a sense of kindness rather than criticism. Please follow this link to our What is mindfulness? webpage for more information.

What is meditation?

There are different types of meditation and not all are the same. Mindfulness meditation is putting aside a dedicated time on a daily basis with the intention of cultivating awareness. In this regular practice we are familiarising ourselves with our inner experience whatever that may be. We practise acceptance of our internal state rather than judging it or trying to change it. Meditation is unlike anything else we do on a daily basis as it is a kind of non-doing.  We are after all human beings not human doings…

Please see our course details for specific benefits.

What are the benefits of practising mindfulness?

Research has provided evidence that mindfulness can offer many benefits, including increased concentration, feelings of wellbeing, reduced stress, and better relationships with other people.
Mindfulness resources Mindfulnet.org, generously developed and maintained by Juliet Adams, offers an overview of research into mindfulness from both a healthcare and workplace perspective.

Is mindfulness positive thinking, relaxation, NLP, hypnotherapy, brainwashing, emptying your mind, therapy, blissing out, x, y, z …?!

No! There are many misconceptions about mindfulness, which is a way of being which involves bringing awareness to the unfolding of present experience, moment to moment, with curiosity, openness and acceptance. It is not a set of techniques to be learned to escape unpleasant feelings, a relaxation exercise, or a goal to be reached, but rather an approach to life that can help us respond more skilfully even when challenging experiences do occur.

I have read about mindfulness and/or already meditate, is a course for me?

“can you learn MBSR from a book? The answer is yes … and no. Practicing mindfulness – the core of MBSR – on your own is possible, and indeed many people have begun training by reading books, but a book is not a substitute for attending an MBSR class. There is tremendous value in practicing in a group and receiving guidance from a qualified teacher. A class can provide inspiration, motivation, and a more comprehensive view through interaction with others. An MBSR teacher and the group can help you explore your experience of the exercises and take you to a deeper level of understanding. Although a book may be a great starting point, we encourage you to seek opportunities to learn MBSR in a class situation” (Lehrhaupt & Meibert, 2017)

How do you learn mindfulness?

Through ongoing practice. Mindfulness is a skill that develops with repetition, just like learning to play the piano or going to the gym. There are no shortcuts to learning mindfulness and our courses provide a starting point for an on-going journey in mindfulness.

Who is a course for?

Some of our course participants have little or no experience of mindfulness meditation. Some people take a course for a second time and others have delved into what meditation entails through books or apps. Whether you have experience of mindfulness meditation or not does not matter, it’s your intention that matters. We ask people to bring what we call a Beginner’s mind, approaching mindfulness with a sense of curiosity and interest rather than ‘I know all about this’.  If you think you know all about mindfulness from a book, an app or a previous course there is little we can teach you. However, if you are ready to learn something, particularly from your own inner experience, then mindfulness courses have a lot to offer regardless of your level of experience.

What is the commitment required?

There is always a commitment required for any course. As well as the commitment in attending each session of a course, each week you are asked to practise at home the exercises and meditations that we experience together in the session. The more you can commit to time practising at home, the more you will gain from the course. This is approximately 30 minutes of meditation daily for the duration of the course, alongside a willingness to explore mindfulness in your day-to-day life. We call these two aspects formal and informal practices. Taken together they support your efforts for mindfulness to become an everyday part of your life.

What does a course involve?

A mindfulness course involves attending one session per week lasting 2-2.5 hours for 8 weeks. All our courses are group courses for up to 14 people. In between each session you are expected to practice what has been taught in the session, ideally on a daily basis. Each session will include some meditation practice, some teaching or theory on a particular aspect of mindfulness and some discussion of how you are finding the practices, both at home and in the session. The group environment offers a richness of learning, both in terms of shared experience and also of learning from your own experience within the group.

Will there be an opportunity to ask questions?

Yes we welcome your questions, particularly about what you notice or discover as you are practising. You can also ask to speak to the course instructor individually (either before the beginning or at the end of a session) and you can email the course instructor during the week if you are encountering specific difficulties.

Do I have to sit cross-legged on the floor?

Only if you want to! Most of our group participants prefer to practise meditation sitting on a chair and through the course we will encourage you to consider your posture and find the right way of sitting for you. We will help you try different postures, particularly if you have back problems. If you have a specific problem, please let the course instructor know before the start of the course.

Is mindfulness compatible with my faith?

Mindfulness courses are taught in a non-religious format, and open to people from all different religions and faiths, as well as none.

“Mindfulness is a basic human inheritance & capability, and is not owned by any group, religion or philosophy. As a capacity of the human mind, mindfulness can be trained with practices and disciplines just as one can become a more skilled violinist through long practice, or build one’s strength through weight training. Buddhist practitioners have done deep research on the subject and the many Buddhist traditions offer myriad insights, but that doesn’t mean Buddhism owns mindfulness any more than the Italians own pasta, or the Greeks own democracy” – Barry Boyce

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 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.

Whilst we ourselves are not healthcare professionals we are happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have regarding course suitability, 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, healthcare professionals who integrate mindfulness into their work, will be suggested.

How do I know if someone teaching a mindfulness course is appropriately trained?

There are no formal regulations stipulating who can teach mindfulness, however, we follow the UK Good Practice Guidance developed by leading teacher training organisations in the UK for Mindfulness-Based Teachers https://www.ukmindfulnessnetwork.co.uk/uk-listing/

Our courses are facilitated by individuals from the NCMC team who, as well as being trained to teach mindfulness, each have a long-term committed personal practice of meditation and mindfulness. We all work from the premise that we will not ask you to do more than we do ourselves. Not only can a group course offer a great deal in terms of shared learning, you are also learning from how the course tutor models mindfulness based on our own depth of experience, knowledge and way of being.

Will I receive a certificate of mindfulness at the end of the course?

No! Mindfulness is a life-long journey. If you need a certificate showing your attendance on the course for CPD purposes we can arrange this once the course has finished.

Do you offer one-to-one sessions?

We generally advise attending a group course if you are able to as they offer a richness of learning, both in terms of shared experience and also of learning from your own experience within the group.
We can offer teaching on an individual basis however we find the cost prohibitive for most people compared to attending a course. We can recommend colleagues within a therapeutic environment who work on a one-to-one basis and who include mindfulness within this.

I am interested in learning to teach mindfulness, what should I do?

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.

My organisation is 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, insight and leadership development. Introductory workshops are an important first step for those wishing to offer mindfulness training. An overview of course types, length, group size and individual commitment to meditation practice is available here. 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.