General Information about Mindfulness Courses
All the mindfulness courses taught by Gwynedd Mindfulness are secular programmes. Although they have their roots in spiritual teachings from different traditions across the world, they are helpful for people with different religions or none, and it’s not necessary to have any spiritual intentions to benefit from the results of mindfulness training.
A main aim of the mindfulness course is to increase our awareness to enable us to live more fully right now, learning to be more prepared for responding wisely to the challenges in our life, and to be more awake to pleasurable experiences happening already. We often live our lives in the past, mourning past days or in regret or dissatisfaction of some kind, or in an imagined future which may be full of anxiety or fear or where we have pinned all our expectations of happiness. The course helps us to become more aware of our present experience (thoughts, emotions and sensations) so we can learn how to step out of automatic reactions and respond with more choice to our life situations.
The various courses offered here are all based around teaching meditation practices and a mindful approach to daily life. Each course has a different emphasis which is described in the particular course details.
Home practice commitment - The courses are experiential, and although there are some educational aspects to the courses, your own personal practice is at the core of each one, both in the class and at home. Home Practice is an important component of every course. It serves to embed the practices into the ways our brains and bodies work, and hence into our lives. There are some differences in home practice requirements on the various courses. Participants are usually directed to audio downloads or provided with CDs for the various practices. You will usually be provided with a coursebook or handouts to accompany your course.
The course sessions build upon each other so it’s important to aim to attend every session if you can, and also to be sure you are able to make space for up to an hour a day for practice. This is so that you can get the most benefit from the course.
The Group as part of the course - Although it is possible to learn mindfulness on an individual basis (see 1-1 Mindfulness) most courses are run as a group. The usual size of a group is about 10 – 20 people. Research has demonstrated many benefits of group learning and most participants find this approach very supportive. It can be helpful to realize that we are not alone in our struggles and can also be inspiring to share with others how we are integrating the practices into our lives. However this is not group therapy, and although participants are encouraged to share personal experiences about their mindfulness learning, the group is not about sharing personal difficulties generally. For some people being in a group of this size can be challenging, especially at first. While there is an element of pair work, small group discussion and whole group enquiry, all aspects of the course are optional and there is no necessity to share in front of the group.
There is a shared agreement to confidentiality in all groups, so participants agree to keep what happens in the room private, and the teacher will explain their own guidelines of Confidentiality.
Clothing. As movement and stillness are both part of the course it is advisable to wear layers of comfortable clothing, which is not restricting around the waist, and that can be added/removed according to temperature.
All movement practices can be adapted to any physical or medical issues (please mention any relevant details on your application form).
Equipment. Depending on the course and venue, equipment such as yoga mats, meditation stools and cushions may be provided. If you need to bring these you will be informed as part of your application process. We would advise you to bring your own blanket or shawl.
Teachers. All of your teachers will have been trained to offer the particular course you are attending, and are experienced in this work. They will have a longstanding personal mindfulness practice of their own.
Applying for a course
You will be invited to answer some simple questions (usually through a written or online application form). Your teacher will assess whether they think the course is appropriate for you at the present time. Sometimes a teacher may ring you to discuss a particular issue before deciding whether the course would be helpful. Although Mindfulness has been found to be very beneficial in many areas of life, there are some occasions and circumstances when a course may not be suitable, for example:
Recent major life event - When we are grieving, having experienced a significant bereavement or loss in the last year, we can sometimes experience our emotions as overwhelming. This is not a good time to begin to learn an approach that includes learning to move towards difficult feelings.
Addiction (e.g. alcohol, prescribed or illegal drugs). A major function of addiction is an avoidance of feeling in certain ways. As mindfulness is about increasingly being able to accept our feelings the way they are, this approach is not suitable for people with current addictions. If you are experiencing an eating disorder this may not prevent you attending the course, but it would be essential to inform the teacher of this as a part of the assessment process.
Mental health. If you have recently suffered a traumatic event it may not be appropriate to join a course currently. If you have a trauma history it is important to mention this to the teacher. They may still decide the course is suitable but might advise additional support or that you modify the practices in some way. If you are currently depressed or suffering from psychosis it is unlikely to be appropriate for you to attend. Whatever your mental health issue your teacher can discuss whether the particular programme you are interested in is suitable; they may also signpost you to other services and mindfulness courses.
Support during the Course The teachers are available during the course to respond to questions or concerns from participants. Undertaking a course of this type offers an opportunity for change and change can be challenging at times. It is considered wise to be in a relatively stable phase of your life when doing the course. The teacher is there to support your learning; however, we encourage you to consider if you may need extra support in place to help you get the most out of the course. If you have a counsellor, therapist or mental health worker it is a good idea to discuss the course with them.
Cost. The courses described on this site may differ in cost depending on the type of course, its length, the venue, and number of participants. The cost of each course will be made clear before you apply, there are no hidden costs. Some teachers may be able to offer discounts in particular situations.