What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a simple concept: it is the awareness that arises when we place our attention on an object. By its nature, it is something that can only occur in the present moment. The practice of mindfulness consists of continually (and kindly) re-placing our attention on our chosen object when our attention wanders.
There have now been over 1,500 studies into the effects of mindfulness.1 They show that practising mindfulness is associated with:
- reductions in anxiety, depression, stress and perception of pain; and
- improved mood and emotional intelligence, increased working memory and a greater ability for complex thinking and problem solving.2
“I am filled with gratitude; this has been a profound experience for me.”
Mindfulness in the Office
Every day I see lawyers beset with stress and anxiety. And I am not alone in seeing this.3 These individual stories are not only distressing to the lawyers themselves and their families – they also have an impact on the organisations in which they work. High levels of stress and anxiety lead to underperformance, higher levels of sick leave and, ultimately, staff turnover.
At the same time, law firms and other organisations are seeking to maximise the value of their highly educated and well-paid staff. I see mindfulness as part of the solution to this dilemma: as studies have shown, mindfulness is a skill that can reduce stress and anxiety and increase resilience and effectiveness in the workplace. It can allow the pressure of work to be experienced in a different, more easeful, way.
Group program: in-house
The basic program that Mind Now offers is a 6 × 1¼ hr program for 8 – 12 people, delivered at your offices, with an optional half-day of mindfulness delivered at your offices on a weekend at the end of week 4 or 5.
Home practice by the participants is an essential feature of the program.
Public program: Mindfulness in Relationship
Mind Now will shortly be running a program that, using mindfulness skills, invites participants to reflect on how they affect and are affected by others – friends, colleagues, clients. The aim is to foster awareness of and resilience in interactions with others.
Venue: Gestalt Therapy Australia, 333 Heidelberg Rd Northcote
Times: Wednesday evenings@ 6.30 – 8.00pm
Dates: 24 April – 29 May 2019 (6 evenings)
Contact: Gestalt Therapy Australia on 9489 6300
Mind Now also offers 1:1 mindfulness coaching. This program can be more flexible than the group program and tailored to the individual. The basic program is 6 × 1hr sessions.
“I have noticed a great advancement in… my overall ability to handle stress and self-criticism.”
1 Kabat-Zinn, J (2013) Full Catastrophe Living (2nd Edition), Random House, New York at p. xxx of the Introduction to the Second Edition
2 Egs Grossman, P et al (2004) Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57: 35-43; Jha, A et al (2010) Examining the protective effects of mindfulness training on working memory capacity and affective experience Emotion Vol 10(1), 54-64
3 Kelk, N et al (2009) Courting the Blues: Attitudes towards depression in Australian law students and legal practitioners BMRI Monograph 2009-1, Sydney, Brain and Mind Research Institute
I am a psychotherapist in private practice in Melbourne, Australia, with a Masters degree in Gestalt psychotherapy.
Some years ago I trained to teach the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, a program developed over 30 years ago at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and now taught world-wide. It is regarded as the gold standard of mindfulness courses and is the program that has been the subject of most of the studies into the effects of mindfulness.
To undertake teacher training for this program, one must demonstrate a commitment to the practice of mindfulness. For my part, I have been practising meditation for over a decade. I have done so under a number of teachers in Australia, India, Nepal and Burma. During this time, I have participated in many silent retreats, ranging from a few days to a month. Central to most of these retreats has been the practice of mindfulness.
I have also worked as a lawyer for the past 20 years. I have worked in a variety of workplaces – from some of Australia’s largest law firms, to small in-house teams.
In 2010, I received the Victorian Law Institute President’s Award for Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year, in recognition of my work as a volunteer lawyer over many years at the HIV/AIDS Legal Centre.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice, though
the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles…
The Journey (extract)
Why do we get stuck (again)? And how do we get unstuck? And what does it mean to live a meaningful and fulfilling life?
Like Mary Oliver, I believe that each of us has the answers to these questions within ourselves. But how do we hear the inner voice? Paradoxically, I believe it is through relationship – a secure, responsive, collaborative and compassionate relationship. For how we experience ourselves is a personal experience as well as a relational experience.
This secure relational environment can allow for the exploration of those parts of ourselves that we might otherwise find rather difficult or distressing. Often, through connection to another in dialogue and relationship, the quiet voice, or the voice that has previously been unwelcome, or even that which is felt but unvoiced, can become known.
In this way, growth and healing can occur.
I practise psychotherapy from two locations:
Level 4, Suite 48
12 Collins Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000
Gestalt Therapy Australia
333 Heidelberg Road
Northcote Victoria 3070
For workplaces, I offer mindfulness training at the workplace.
For community groups, I offer mindfulness training at Gestalt Therapy Australia, at the address above.
You can contact me at:
P 0469 905 188