News

Mindfulness in Meditation and Everyday Life

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Venue: Bruny Island Community Health Centre. 16 School Rd, Alonnah.

Course Dates: Preliminary interview on 26 July. The course runs from 23 August to 11 October 2011. 11.00am to 2.00pm, including a light lunch.

The last session will be Tuesday, 13 December.

Please book on 62931143 at Bruny Island Community Health Centre.

Cost: $5.00 for lunch per session. You will also need to purchase two CDs at $10.00 each for your daily practice.

Tutor: Dr Peter Davies

This 8-week course is based on the one developed by Dr Bruno Cayoun, an internationally recognised Psychologist and Mindfulness practitioner, who regularly teaches in Australia and abroad.

For further information please contact Peter Davies: Email pfreemandavies@gmail.com and mobile 0417528375 after 18 June.

What does a Mindfulness course involve?

Mindfulness is a mental state that is experienced as a heightened awareness of our senses in the present moment, free from judgement, reactivity and identification to the experience. As a training method, mindfulness requires paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, from moment to moment, with unconditional acceptance of the current experience. In a Mindfulness course, participants meet together as a class with an instructor for 8 weekly 2-hour classes, with an additional one half-day session 2 months after the 8th session.

The skill of mindfulness is taught through formal and informal mindfulness practices. Formal mindfulness meditation practices include mindfulness of breath, and body-scanning meditation, which help regulate attention and emotion. Informal mindfulness meditation practice involves integrating mindfulness into everyday life. In each class, participants have an opportunity to talk about their experience of the home practices, the obstacles that inevitably arise, and how to deal with them skillfully. Each class is organized around a theme that is explored through mindfulness practice, group inquiry and other relevant exercises.

As mindfulness training is primarily experiential in nature, the main ‘work’ of the course is done at home between classes, using CDs with guided meditations that support participants developing practice outside of class. This requires devoting approximately 30 minutes twice each day to home practice. In many ways this commitment to daily practice is the most important aspect of the course. It is through personal experiencing of mindfulness that we come to understand the possibilities it opens for us in our daily lives.

Over the eight weeks of the program, the practices help you to:
  • become familiar with the workings of your mind
  • notice the times when you are at risk of getting caught in old habits of mind that re-activate downward mood spirals
  • explore ways of releasing yourself from those old and unhelpful habits
  • get in touch with a different way of knowing yourself and the world
  • notice small beauties and pleasures in the world around you instead of living in your head
  • be kind to yourself instead of wishing things were different, or driving yourself to meet impossible goals
  • improve your sense of self-worth
  • accept yourself as you are, rather than judging or blaming yourself
  • decrease stress and gain some peace of mind
  • be able to exercise greater choice confidently in life.

Effects of developing mindfulness include:   

  • Lasting decreases in physical and psychological symptoms
  • An increased ability to relax
  • Reductions in pain levels and an enhanced ability to cope with pain that may not go away
  • Greater energy and enthusiasm for life
  • Improved self-esteem
  • An ability to cope more effectively with both short and long-term stressful situations
  • Enhanced interpersonal relationships
  • Increased ability to manage anxiety and depression and/or low mood
  • Reduced tension
  • Better sleep
  • Greater sense of meaning and purpose in life

Snapshot: Marise Fallon

Sunday, May 29, 2011
I never knew what I wanted to do when I left school and I spent many hours thinking about it while growing up in Brisbane, never coming to a decision that lasted more than a couple of months. When I did finish year 12 in 2001 at the last minute I decided to sign up for a Bachelor of Psychological Science at UQ. It felt like the course chose me, without much conscious thought of my own. I ended up loving studying psychology and I was also lucky enough to be able to combine it with studies in Buddhism (pursuing an interest in Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy that began as a student in high school), meditation in eastern religions and philosophy during the first couple of years.

I have always felt that I have been extremely lucky in life and, wanting to give back to a world that I loved, I always had a strong desire to help others. Studying psychology seemed to fit well with this. I graduated in 2006 and, wanting a break from study, spent three years working in an office supporting computer systems. Throughout my undergraduate study and during these years working afterwards, I spent 6 months travelling through south-east Asia, worked on yachts in the Whitsundays for a few months and drove/camped around the coastline of Australia on another amazing trip. During these years I realised how much I loved meeting learning from people. I also found myself drawn to the pursuit of activities that pulled me into the present moment: snorkelling and scuba diving, rock climbing and skydiving.

When I moved to Tasmania in February 2010 to begin a Masters in Clinical Psychology at UTAS I didn’t know much about mindfulness. I remember it being mentioned only once in my undergraduate course. I had heard about it through friends working in psychology in Brisbane and was intrigued to find out more. As I sat on my first day at UTAS, listening to potential supervisors for the masters theses talk about their research interests, I distinctly remember being excited to hear about Dr Bruno Cayoun’s interest in mindfulness and all things “east meets west”. Over the next week I read whatever I could find on mindfulness and did what I could to convince the uni to let Bruno be my supervisor. I was very happy when I found out this had worked.

Bruno introduced me to MiCBT and, as I began to develop a thesis project looking into mindfulness, I also began my own daily meditation. Bruno’s guidance, with such wisdom and patience, through both of these endeavours has been invaluable. I slowly plodded along with the daily meditation, being one of Bruno’s worst students at times I’m sure, struggling to find a balance between my strong desire to do the mediation and my strong desire to do anything else but. The meditation has now become an integral part of my life, though, and while I still have bad weeks sometimes, I keep coming back to it. I have loved witnessing the gradual change in the way I experience each moment of each day. My practise has already taught me so much about myself - my emotions, my thoughts and my place amongst the world - and I know this is only the very beginning of a long journey of awakening. Mindfulness has also been an invaluable tool for dealing with the stresses of being back at university, which have included the research project I’ve been working on.

On top of coursework and placements, my research has required me to teach 25 mindfulness courses (some last year and some this year). My study investigates the results for those completing different types of 8-week mindfulness courses: everyday mindfulness (informal mindfulness only); mindfulness of breath only; and body scan. Running these courses has been an amazing experience and I feel blessed to have been able to offer this opportunity to so many in the community. While I have not yet analysed any data regarding the differences in participant outcomes for each type of course, I know that many benefited regardless of the course completed. Running these courses, along with my own practice of mindfulness, has convinced me of the value of these techniques. I am so grateful to have been able to learn these skills for my own life and also to have the skills to be able to teach mindfulness to my clients when I finally become a practicing psychologist. (Thanks Bruno.)

Marise Fallon, BSc.
Master Student (Clinical Psychology)
University of Tasmania

Contact: mlfallon@postoffice.utas.edu.au

Mindfulness-integrated CBT: Principles and Practice

Monday, April 18, 2011
Mindfulness-integrated CBT: Principles and Practice (Wiley-Blackwell) represents the first set of general principles and practical guidelines for the integration of mindfulness meditation with well-documented and newly developed CBT techniques to address a broad range of psychological dysfunctions.
  • The first book to provide a strong rationale and general guidelines for the implementation of mindfulness meditation integrated with CBT for a wide range of psychological difficulties
  • Incorporates ancient Buddhist concepts of how the mind works, while remaining firmly grounded in well-documented cognitive and behavioural principles
  • Provides new insights into established understanding of conditioning principles
  • Includes a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions, week-by-week instructions for professionals to facilitate application of the therapy, along with case examples and the inspiring stories of former clients.

Click here for more information.

Managing Your Emotions: Re-Train Your Brain

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

by Redland Bay Community Centre


Where: Redland Community Centre Inc.,
29 Loraine St, Capalaba, Qld 4157
Ph 07 3245 2117

Format: 8 group sessions, each 3 hours including a tea break.

Facilitator: Patrea O'Donoghue, MPsych, MAPS.

Cost: $455 includes the 8 group sessions, all materials, 2 CDs with guided instructions, and light refreshments.

Bookings: (07) 3245 2117 or (07) 3472 1361

This 8-week course is aimed at helping people better understand and manage difficult emotional experiences such as when feeling stressed, anxious, sad, depressed or angry. The course is based on Mindfulness-integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (MiCBT), a treatment approach developed by Bruno Cayoun, DPSych, clinical psychologist.

MiCBT is an approach that combines both mindfulness and the principles of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). During this course, participants will learn a variety of mindfulness-based skills and approaches that encourage them to focus on their breathing and their body, rather than the thoughts that are likely triggering reactive behaviours and escalating the emotions. The course also looks at how other people and our emotions interact with one another and what we can do about that.

Mindfulness approaches have been demonstrated by researchers to be very helpful for people in better managing emotions and stress, improving depressed moods by helping avoid rumination, improving concentration, and generally result in feeling a greater sense of satisfaction with one's own life.

Term 1: 8 February – 28 March 2012
Time: 6.30pm-9.30pm
Free pre-course information session 1 February 2012 from 6.30pm-8.00pm

Term 2: 2 May – 20 June 2012
Time: 9.00am-12.00noon
Free pre-course information session 18 April 2012 from 11.00am-12.30pm

Term 3: to be advised

Term 4: 17 October – 5 December 2012
Time: 6.30pm-9.30pm
Free pre-course information session 10 October 2012 from 6.30pm-8.00pm

Snapshot: Mikako Naito

Monday, November 29, 2010
Consultant Psychologist MPsych (Clin) Tugun Clinic, Gold Coast

I stumbled into meditation quite by accident when I was 35. I had just broken up with a lawyer boyfriend who I thought was my knight in shining armour, only a year after I had divorced my first husband. It was a turbulent period. I probably cried more during this time than any other time in my life. And I didn’t just cry in those days. When I got upset, I would cry, scream and vehemently attack my partner with the nastiest words. It was like my anger, fear and sorrow weren’t mine at all but some powerful thing from outer space that would suddenly hijack my consciousness and drive my body to do all the deeds.

On that day I discovered meditation, I was lying on my bed wailing helplessly because I didn’t know what else to do as the memories of my lawyer boyfriend came and went. I wailed for what seemed like all morning and then stopped. I was simply exhausted. I closed my eyes and started to do some deep breathing, something my first husband had taught me but I never practised. Suddenly, I noticed myself free from the anguish – so completely free that it was as though I was floating far above the problems and questions which I was sure were still unresolved. I soaked up the blissful serenity, and when I opened my eyes I cried – because I then saw hope.

Looking back, the experience was probably closer to dissociation than meditation. But I thought I had found enlightenment and enthusiastically began following a path of self-discovery. I continued practising meditation every day. I read many popular psychology books and saw psychotherapists. I wanted to know why I was like this. I wanted to know where all that intense, unwanted energy came from.

The psychotherapists I saw weren’t much help, and I decided that I could do a better job if I knew how. I enrolled myself in a clinical psychology program at a nearby university. When I studied CBT, I thought I had found the cure for myself. When I learned about borderline personality disorder, I thought there were others like me. And when I learned about Asperger syndrome, I thought I had found the explanation to how I was. I drafted detailed conceptualisations of myself and tried one CBT technique after another to ‘fix’ myself.

I resolved many of my difficulties this way. For example, I managed to distance and differentiate myself from my well-meaning but erratic mother and learned to accept myself for who I was. I slowly but steadily began leading a life which others may envy. I bought a house, fell pregnant to my architect boyfriend, married him, had a beautiful baby daughter, finished my degree, got a job, and subsequently started my private practice.

But I was keenly aware that a portion of my everyday life hadn’t changed since my most dysfunctional days. I frequently got angry and shouted at my young daughter. My anger got so intense that I wasn’t able to feel any love, compassion or remorse until much later. It got intense so quickly that I didn’t know that I was angry until after I had shouted. It terrified my daughter, and it tormented me, but no amount of CBT and meditation seemed to really help. My anger was almost always around violations of the rules I had created – to keep my house clean, to get things done on time and to do these things efficiently. To me these rules were perfectly natural, logical and necessary, but my husband and daughter failed to appreciate them. I knew that my rules were the main source of our conflicts, but I wasn’t able to let go of the rules for fear of losing my identity and sense of belonging.

I attended Bruno’s 1-day and 8-week courses without much expectation because nothing else had really worked. But I began to notice the difference after about three weeks of twice-daily MiCBT mindfulness practice. I began to detect my anger at a very early stage and to monitor its gradual increase as though it were in slow motion, which allowed me to actually ask myself the crucial questions, “Should I shout or just talk? If talk, what should I say? And how and when should I say it?” The questions I preached to my clients to ask themselves and yet was never able to do myself. In other words, a miracle has happened.

MiCBT bipolar exposure has also got me used to my anxiety, which I didn’t know I had because I avoided it so well. I now spend much less time on keeping my house clean, and instead I often manage to squeeze some fun things in a day – like going to a park or hosting an impromptu play-day after school. And this is the big part, I do it smilingly. The notion of equanimity has filtered into our family life so much that our 6-year old daughter told me the other day, “Mummy, you need to be more equanimous.”

On the second session of the 8-week course, when I told Bruno I did not have time for two mindfulness practices in a day, he gently but firmly persuaded me to get up at 5 am to do the first practice of the day. It was one of the most significant turning points in my life because it would have taken a very different path if he did not succeed then. It is my hope that I make turning points like that in others’ lives too. MiCBT has already helped many of my clients, some of whom have shown dramatic improvement. I am committed to continue learning and growing as a MiCBT practitioner – through the regular meetings with my fellow MiCBT course graduates on the Gold Coast, Queensland,  monthly supervisions by Bruno, upcoming advanced MiCBT courses, and, of course, my daily practice.

I accept referrals of clients and I can be contacted by phone: (07) 5559 5391 or email: mikako.naito@bigpond.com