Also appears on my mindfulness blog  Switching Off

photo by Sarahlizamoody on

I  have just completed the eight week MBCT (mindfulness based cognitive therapy) course. Over the weeks, the techniques of mindfulness are revealed in what feels like a gentle process of evolution. It was wonderful to see that evolution in myself and others as the weeks progressed. I’ve said it before, this mindfulness stuff works!

In the beginning – for those new to meditation – there was scepticism and the beginner’s frustration of “not doing”. And you could almost see the process of this unravelling – much to the surprise of the participants. “I feel better, but I don’t know why” . This is because there is no actual sense of process, or progress, or moving towards any particular goal. In mindfulness, there is no “end” in mind, only being with what is there. In the moment.

The miracle of mindfulness indeed.

One exercise that we did on the course was to write down everything that we did in one day. I chose a Tuesday because, curious to see where we were going with it (OK not quite in the moment) I chose my busiest day. Most people were finished their lists when I was still only at lunch time!

And then we were asked to go through our list and mark them with an N for nurturing, a D for draining or and M for those activities, nurturing or draining which we felt we had mastery over.

The word I think I used to describe what I revealed, was “startling”

Try it.

There was only one activity that just had an N next to it. There were many that had both Ns and Ds – as teaching can be both. There were quite a number of Ms, draining as some of the activities are, I think I’ve got Tuesdays down to a fine art. However, the one wholly nurturing activity – other than going to bed at night time – was making a cup of coffee in the morning before I left for work.

There are no answers provided in mindfulness training. Only questions and explorations. The lists, the Ns and Ds and Ms revealed all that was required. And what is required is always either a shift in behaviour, or a shift in thinking.

On the final day of the course we were all asked to bring in an object that spoke of our experience. People brought in beautiful, interesting and fascinating things. Things they had made, things that spoke to them of their experience, things they were wearing.

I brought in two objects – the first: a piece of sea washed pottery that I had beach combed. All to do with expression and activities I love and my unique sense of beauty and not being bothered whether others think differently.

And the second?.

…A coffee cup.