Mindfulness in Rochester, Kent

Eight week mindfulness course in Rochester

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Eight Week Mindfulness Course (April 4th – May 23rd, Rochester, Kent)

“Training in mindfulness, like anything needs to be consistent to bring results and that’s what a structured eight week course, complete with group work and individual home practice is designed to do. It is perfect for those who are completely new and those looking to commit more to their current practice with the support of the course, the group and an instructor.

The course will provide you with the opportunity to learn a combination of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Cognitive Therapy techniques, through formal and informal practices that can be easily integrated into your daily life, including mindfulness of eating, breath, bodily sensations, thoughts, feelings, sounds and movement, as well as a number of other positive psychology techniques and thought experiments that support the process.”

For more details visit www.cesaremindfultherapy.com/courses

Canterbury Meditation Classes

Canterbury meditation classes every Wednesday.

Brain Renewal Meditation – Compassion based mindfulness designed to improve wellbeing and maintain cognitive function for all ages.

Canterbury meditation classes
Canterbury meditation classes

Meditate in Canterbury

Brain Renewal Meditation (BRM) is a compassion based mindfulness meditation which helps to maintain brain function and supports wellbeing. It is secular, can be practiced by anyone and is simple to learn. No previous experience or special training is necessary, just come and practice. This method requires meditators to sit comfortably, typically in a chair and to follow the instructions of the experienced teacher.

Based on a traditional method, BRM is now available to people that want to meditate in Canterbury and across Kent.  This approach has been developed through engagement with the latest scientific research and is taught by an experienced meditation teacher trained in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, Stephen Gene Morris. A weekly BRM class is held in Canterbury, it is suitable for adults of all ages. Contact us for more details.

It has long been established that aspects of brain health and physical wellbeing can be improved by regular meditation. BRM is simple and intuitive and includes three elements closely associated with a range of health benefits; compassion, mindfulness and awareness of both self and other.

Unfortunately the performance of the human brain typically starts to decline before the age of 30, signs are apparent in our 40’s and mild cognitive impairment and dementia can develop in later life. The evidence shows that regular meditation is linked to maintaining a younger healthier brain, this obviously can have great benefits no matter what our age.

FAQs

Is it suitable for non meditators?

Many people attending are likely to be new to meditation or have limited experience.

Will I be able to do it?

Almost everyone can do it, it is a form of mind training so it may require some concentration but it is appropriate for adults of all ages.

Is the teacher qualified or experienced?

Our teachers tend to be among the most qualified and experienced of any meditation teachers. The Canterbury class is run by a trained cognitive psychologist/neuroscientist with extensive experience of traditional and contemporary meditation systems.

Are discounts available for advanced bookings?

Yes as we teach relatively small groups we cut down on a lot of admin time if people book several weeks at a time. We pass these savings on to our meditators. Significant discounts are available for bookings of 3 weeks, 5 weeks or 10 weeks. Contact us for more details: stephen@brainrm.com

I can’t get to a class but I want to practice

We also run online meditation classes and 1 to 1 sessions, get in touch for more details.

Are there minimum age requirements to enter the event?

This is an adult meditation class so it is open to everyone over the age of 18.

What are my transport/parking options for getting to and from the event?

There is very limited parking at the venue, a range of public car parks are within walking distance. Canterbury can be accessed through a range of public transport options.

What can I bring into the event?

Just yourself, no special clothing or equipment is necessary

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Email – stephen@brainrm.com

Phone – 07710039146

Join the mailing list.

What’s the refund policy?

Cancel within 24 hours for a full refund

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

That’s up to you

Is my registration fee or ticket transferrable?

Yes anyone over the age of 18 can use the ticket

Is it ok if the name on my ticket or registration doesn’t match the person who attends?

No problem

Terms & conditions

  1. If you have any special requirements let us know in advance.
  2. The basic cost of a lesson is £10, buying your ticket through Eventbright or using the PayPal service attracts a small surcharge.
  3. You can always pay at the venue before the class begins.
  4. We offer discounts for advanced bookings of 3, 5 and 10 classes.
  5. Concessionary tickets of £7 are available for people not in paid employment.
  6. Online training and 1 to 1 instruction is available, confirm the availability of the teacher before booking.

Notes

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Anxiety in middle age linked to higher risks of dementia

#Anxiety in middle age linked to higher risks of #dementia. If you suffer from moderate or high levels of anxiety act today!

Anxiety in middle age linked to higher risks of dementia
Could anxiety in your middle years make you more vulnerable to dementia

Anxiety in middle age linked to higher risks of dementia

It is no surprise that anxiety at any age is not good for you, anyone that has experienced strong feelings of anxiousness knows how unpleasant they can be. But the recent revelations that there is a proven link between anxiety in middle aged and late onset dementia is shocking news. Details of research published at the BMJ Open website describe how over an interval of a decade, midlife anxiety is linked to increased risk of dementia.

“The main point is to protect yourself from increased risks of developing late stage dementia”

Stephen Gene Morris

smiling man holding woman s left shoulder
Choose happiness, why not?

There are three issues that jump out of the report for me. Firstly that medium and strong forms of anxiety are dangerous, they should carry government health warnings. If you suffer from anxiety don’t let this report worry you further, take it as a sign that it’s time to do something. Secondly I don’t like the ten year interval between the reported anxiety and a diagnosis of dementia. It suggests that day to day living doesn’t return brain function and structure to ‘normal’ after strong bouts of anxiety, we don’t automatically recover from the wear and tear. But on a more positive note the study describes anxiety as a ‘modifiable risk factor’. That means you can probably do something about it!

Anxiety is not the only lifestyle or behavioral factor associated with dementia but the science shows it does matter.  So if you suffer from anxiety what can you do? Firstly take action to roll back the behaviours that lead to medium and strong forms anxiety. As someone who has suffered with this condition I know that is easier said than done, but at least acknowledge that you need to do something. Meditation was the intervention that worked for me, compassionate meditation! It might seems strange I know, but by generating compassion I gradually dissolved almost all of the strong anxiety I had. The main point is to protect yourself from increased risks of developing late stage dementia. Your solution doesn’t have to be linked to meditation, but if you only do one thing today plan to reduce your levels of anxiety.

 

Stephen Gene Morris is a meditation teacher and trained scientist, he has taught meditation to hundreds of students of all ages. If you’d like to attend a class or take part in an online session get in touch. Sign up to the free newsletter  for all the latest brain health news and help.

 

Notes

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Mindfulness in Rochester

Mindfulness meditation in Rochester. Eight week course starting in January.

Mindfulness in Rochester
Mindfulness course in Rochester

Mindfulness in Rochester – Public eight week course (January 17th – March 7th, 2019)

Cesare Saguato will be running his next public mindfulness eight week course between the 17th of January and 7th of March, 2019. Some details are copied below but for more information and any general enquiries visit the Cesare Mindful Therapy website.

“Training in mindfulness, like anything needs to be consistent to bring results and that’s what a structured eight week course, complete with group work and individual home practice is designed to do. It is perfect for those who are completely new and those looking to commit more to their current practice with the support of the course, the group and an instructor.

The course will provide you with the opportunity to learn a combination of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Cognitive Therapy techniques, through formal and informal practices that can be easily integrated into your daily life, including mindfulness of eating, breath, bodily sensations, thoughts, feelings, sounds and movement, as well as a number of other positive psychology techniques and thought experiments that support the process.

The Course will be supported by

  • An e-booklet helping you explore and deepen you understanding of the themes covered in your weekly sessions. It will also include weekly Home Practice Guidance and Record Sheets to help you keep track of your progress.

  • Online guided Audio Meditations to guide and support you in your home practice.

  • Email support in between sessions with Cesare to discuss or elucidate any points emerging during your home practice.

  • Certificate of completion (issued only if attendance is 75% or more)”

 

Notes

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Meditate your way to a younger, smarter brain

Meditate your way to a younger, smarter brain
Meditators can have brains years younger than non-meditators

Meditate your way to a younger smarter brain

Several features in the media this week have giving some clear indications about the science behind keeping our brains in the best possible shape. Some of the advice falls into the generic wellbeing wisdom which now seems to be be associated with most health messages;

  • eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, consume less processed meat
  • take regular exercise
  • give up smoking
  • stay socially engaged
  • keep active
  • avoid stress, relax and sleep the right amount
  • keep the brain working with appropriate activity and brain training

The last item on this wish list is unsettlingly vague given that it probably has the most significant impact on brain health. For example how can we define brain training (as almost everything we do can train the brain)? What is an appropriate level of activity and which parts of the brain should we focus on?

“In one study the brains of regular meditators were found to be years younger than non meditators”

In today’s Guardian, attention was drawn to a key finding of the MacArthur Studies of Successful Aging; that typically lifestyle and environment are more influential in our quality and length of life than genetic factors. This is also the general direction that brain science seems to be moving in with regards neurodegeneration. That although there are many questions left to be answered, limiting cognitive decline and reducing the risk of dementia may rest largely in our own hands.

close up of a man

Returning to the question of brain training, the big issue is to establish what kinds of intervention bring the greatest overall benefit? It is becoming increasingly apparent that narrow single task training such as Sudoku or word searches have a limited effect. Whereas maintaining high levels of brain activity and cognitive challenge are likely to keep a much broader area of the cortex young and healthy. The same principle needs to be applied if meditation systems are being used to maintain cognitive function. That the meditation or mindfulness method should be broad based and able to tap into both the intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (task or external) networks. Activity in and between different neural networks is a key element in brain health and one frequently overlooked and poorly understood. To illustrate consider tonglen meditation, it combines compassion, nondual awareness and mindfulness, it allows the meditator to work with our internal visualisation and empathy systems. In addition it engages the important connectivity between introspection and external awareness.

Given what we know already about neurodegeneration, it seems likely that long term protection against cognitive impairment can be found in meditation methods built on  nondual compassionate approaches.

 

Notes

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How to protect your brain from dementia

No simple answers to dementia prevention but some clear signposts are starting to emerge.

How to protect your brain from dementia
How to protect yourself from dementia

How to protect your brain from dementia

This is not a simple question and there isn’t just one answer. Dementia is a term used to describe symptoms from a number of different illnesses, so different forms of dementia may require alternative approaches. However an article about how Jessica Langbaum keeps her brain young makes some points that we all can learn from. Jessica is the Associate Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, so she knows a thing or two about reducing the risk of developing dementia.

There is an enduring belief that activities such as Sudoku or app based brain training  can offer some benefit is the battle against neurodegeneration. But Dr Langbaum makes the point that any exercise as narrow in scope as single task brain training is probably too limited to be of significant benefit. So that while Soduko for example, might help to keep the parts of the brain linked to simple calculations in good working order, this may offer little protection against Alzheimer’s dementia. The presumption is that maintaining large areas of brain function at high levels of performance is likely to keep overall brain health for longer. This idea is often described at the use it or lose it hypothesis, that once we start to scale down the demands on our brain we may unwittingly increase the risks of permanently losing function and structure.

“regular meditators have been observed to have both younger brains and thicker cortex than non-meditators”

The use it or lose it approach isn’t an ultimate answer but it does give us some great signposts about how to maintain brain health. I have often considered that continued use of meditation into middle and old age by Buddhists may be directly linked to the anecdotal evidence suggesting lower rates of dementia in certain groups of meditators. Many long term Buddhists increase their meditation practice in retirement and can frequently be found working for a range of good causes in voluntary and paid capacities, even at advanced ages. There is research that suggests spiritual practice per se might have a preservative effect on cognitive function but I think we must also consider the more direct influence of meditation methods on the regular renewal of brain function and structure.

adult antique architecture art

Many well established Buddhist meditation practices such as tonglen have been designed as mind training systems. Their original goal was almost certainly not to reduce the risks of dementia, but they have long been associated with increasing wisdom, clarity and compassion. From the neuroscience point of view this means the methods are linked to activity in several of the most important brain networks, such as those connected to empathy, memory, attention, visualization and planning. This is specifically why Brain Renewal Meditation (BRM) has been developed with reference to reliable traditional methods and is also supported with research from neuroimaging and cognitive psychology.

The best advice we can offer to reduce your risks of developing dementia is to,

  • start early, cognitive decline begins in our late 20s
  • stop smoking
  • keep your brain as active as possible for as long as possible
  • stay socially engaged
  • challenge yourself
  • stay physically active
  • watch your diet
  • try forms of brain training able to keep a range of brain structures firing

 

Notes:

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The three secrets to meditation and mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness can offer great benefits but many people fail to engage with the practice, here are some simple rules.

The three secrets to meditation and mindfulness
The three secrets to meditation and mindfulness

Looking for the three secrets to meaningful meditation?

Traditionally obtaining long lasting results from meditation practice can take years. Famously H.H. the Dalai Lama advised Buddhist meditators to assess their progress over a five year period. This kind of long term investment challenges modern notions of what self transformation might be and how quickly individuals should expect to reach their meditation goals. As such both new and experienced meditators are increasingly looking for help, advice and tips to allow them to maximize the time they spend in meditation. As an experienced meditation practitioner, teacher and now researcher, I have reviewed much of the published evidence to offer you the three secrets of meditation.

The three secrets to successful meditation and mindfulness

  • Do some research – understand your goals, find a reliable method and teacher.
  • Start – unless you start you won’t get anywhere.
  • Keep going – perseverance is probably the most important quality needed in a meditator.

buddha-buddhism-statue-religion-46177.jpegAt first sight it might seem that these three ‘secrets’ are  generic and not really that helpful, however just pause for a moment to consider them. From my own experience the single biggest mistake people make when they decide that they want to meditate is to not consider fully what they want to achieve and which approach would be most useful. Generally speaking meditation can have a number of short term transient benefits, for example an improvement in self reported well being. But how long do you have to meditate to get the short term benefits and what comes after the initial ‘feel good’ phase? I’m not suggesting for a moment that meditators need to access scientific studies, but you should have some general ideas of what you want to learn and who should be teaching you.

Traditionally the biggest meditation mistake is described as not starting, the benefits of regular meditation practice are so great that not to at least try it is wasted potential. Traditional forms of meditation have been shown to help with everything from smoking cessation to lowering the risks of developing dementia. Once the basic skill of ‘sitting’ has been acquired a whole range of methods become instantly more accessible. Consider that ‘not starting’ doesn’t mean simply never to have tried meditation but also not to have given it a chance. It can take a few sessions to achieve any real benefit, particularly is your mind is typically ‘busy’ and you find it difficult to put down the worries of your day to day life. Many people feel the benefits of meditation after the first lesson, it might take others a bit longer. A good teacher will be able to help if you are unsure about your progress. A simple analogy is that of learning to drive a car, many people pause driving lessons after a few hours training, disheartened by the challenge. There is an initial ‘biting point’ for people at the start of the meditation journey, if you haven’t reached it you haven’t really started to meditate.

Most meditators who practice two or three times a week can gain great benefit. They may work to change negative and limiting behaviours, address mental or physical health problems, feel a bit more comfortable in their own skin and take more control over their thought processes. But progress fluctuates and if you meditate for any length of time sooner or later you will feel like things aren’t moving as quickly as you would like. This impatience is natural and simply reflects resistance to change, many people put their meditation on hold at this point. Sometimes people do return to the practice but this might be many months or even years later. Consider that ultimately regular meditation leads to functional and structural change in the brain, if you don’t maintain the behaviour linked to the change, neural connections may weaken and you can go back to square one. It might feel like you have all that previous meditation related change still inside you but this probably isn’t the case. If it feels like you need a break, a change of practice might be more beneficial than stopping altogether. It should always be stressed that if you think a meditation method is having a negative impact on you, stop it immediately.

With each specific form of meditation a skillful teacher or experienced student will be able to offer advice, but specific help will be linked to your own experience and the nature of the practice. For example some traditional practices are more suited to the morning or evening or are not suitable for beginners or people taking medication. How you sit, breath and when you last ate might influence the quality of your meditation. Consider that most traditional meditation methods have been used by tens of millions of people for hundreds of years so there is a lot of useful information out there.

 

Notes

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