Frequently Asked Questions
How can I develop a regular practice? I get enthused when I come to a mindfulness event but never seem to build into a regular part of my life.
This is an all too common question I receive from people. Firstly don’t beat yourself up for not achieving a regular practice, as reactions like these only make things worse. Just accept that you haven’t achieved it yet and let your negative emotions go.
I think frequency is much better than length of time. So try to do a short breathing practice even just for a minute sometime in the morning, but every morning. Don’t look for results, don’t look for peace of mind or feeling relaxed. Just do it. The results will come when they come.
It’s best to try to tie it in with something that’s already an established routine in your life. Almost everyone cleans their teeth in the morning. Maybe try a minute’s breathing – nice, fresh minty breathing – immediately after you have cleaned your teeth.
Try to keep your attention very light and easy, and notice the pleasant sensations of the breath. Think of it as a pleasure rather than a heavy burden of duty.
Or when you put your clothes on simply notice the softness of the fabric against your skin, and enjoy it for a few seconds.
Even before you get up in the morning you can practice. When you awaken notice your head on the pillow and think to yourself how nice that sensation is. Then notice your body stretched out on the mattress, and how that feels, Finally the feeling of the duvet over you. That’ll take a minute or less and can help shape your mood for the day.
Try putting a post-it note on nearby places to remind you to do these.
Finally don’t try to do much more until you feel you’ve established a few of these simple methods as routines. Be patient - mindfulness takes time to establish, and the benefits tend to slip into your life almost unnoticed.
I’d like to become a mindfulness teacher. How do I go about getting a qualification?
There are thousands of people doing excellent work in helping others with their well-being, often as counsellors, coaches, psychotherapists, nurses, and other professional roles. As such mindfulness often appeals to such people at a very deep level, and many are drawn to the idea of teaching mindfulness.
I have encouraged many people to qualify as mindfulness teachers in order that local people across the world can benefit from locally delivered regular sessions. It is now relatively easy to gain a qualification in mindfulness and as there are no statutory or regulated qualification processes, a person can simply say they are a mindfulness teacher and start delivering classes.
I would urge caution. In my own case I studied mindfulness and Buddhism for two years before going on to a deep study of Buddhism consisting of attending not only weekly classes but a monthly weekend residential study group for four years before I was asked if I would be interested in becoming a teacher of Buddhist philosophy, psychology and ethics, with mindfulness pervading each of these areas. Thus I had had six years of practice at an increasingly deep level before becoming a teacher.
Even then I felt uneasy when I started to teach because mindfulness is such a deep and personal practice. After eighteen years of practice and twelve of teaching I still feel I am a novice, learning more and more literally every day.
The Mindfulness Association recommends that people establish a personal practice for at least one year before seeking to qualify as a teacher. I think it does depend on the individual but personally I would suggest a lot longer than this.
As to formal qualifications, there are several options, the most robust of which I share below. Best of luck!
Do you know of any mindfulness classes in my area?
I get asked this regularly and of course I don’t know all the mindfulness classes that arise in every local area. The best thing to do is to Google search the words “mindfulness” and the name of your home town, village or city. If nothing appears try your local authority or historical county name alongside “mindfulness”.
There are some sites which try to provide details of mindfulness teachers by postcode but they are very patchy and incomplete, and others are specifically Buddhist.