Mindfulness Training Program

There are four major areas that will be covered during the class. loving-kindness (self compassion and compassion), mindfulness, cognitive therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy.

Loving-kindness Meditation

Loving-kindness meditation is a form of meditation to cultivate a sense of well wishing toward oneself and others. In traditional mindfulness practice this type of practice serves a number of functions. It is a relatively easy form of meditation to cultivate concentration and attention. It counteracts aversive and negative mind states and negative self judgments. It helps develop a sense of common humanity and counteracts isolation. Barbara Fredrickson’s work has shown that in nonclinical populations it increases the frequency of positive emotion and decreases the frequency of anxiety and depression. Her study also showed support for her broaden and build theory of positive emotion, whereby our attention, problem solving and sense of connectedness is increased under its influence.

Self compassion/compassion

Compassion dove tails with mindfulness for when the aware relaxed mind turns to face suffering or dis-ease the natural response is compassion. Much of anxious mind states involve a great deal of self hatred in response to this suffering. This part of the class will be developing a healthy attitude toward one’s own suffering and understanding it in the broader context of universal suffering. Attachment based studies have shown that when people prime their mind with exercises which contemplate kindness and nurturance (even those with a problematic attachment history) they are more likely to respond in a compassionate fashion. We will take advantage of this in the pursuit of self compassion. We will use the practices which cultivate the mind state of compassion. Traditionally compassion is a mind state that tends to compete with the aversive mind states of fear and hatred. When compassion is directly cultivated, compassion can become a more frequent experience thus protecting the mind from aversive mind states which precipitate depression.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the awareness of what is happening now without judgment, commentary or decision. This is the power of being present to the present moment with acceptance. This cultivates beginners mind which opens possibility. Fixed beliefs on the other hand tend to close down options and create passivity and hopelessness. We will work to gradually cultivate mindfulness in its different arenas, awareness of the body, thought, emotion, and behavior. After we have cultivated some basic mindfulness we will spend time working with how to use mindfulness with difficult mind states which tend to lead to downward spirals in mood. Mindfulness is a very healthy and skillful mind state because its tendency is to bring balance, openness and ease to the mind and body.

Cognitive behavioral therapy/Acceptance and commitment therapy

We will cover cognitive distortions, hidden beliefs which lead to anxiety and worsening of anxiety. We will cover working toward acceptance of anxieties and fears, particularly with mindfulness tools. We will work with understanding and confronting avoidance behaviors. We will identify values and goals to help confront avoidance behaviors.