When you’re new to mindfulness, it can be hard to know where to start or what to do. Mindfulness courses are a great way to get some guidance and support. With apps, online courses and DIY approaches, there are tonnes of options available. How can you choose one that’s right for you? Stay tuned and we’ll help you to work it out.
Your inbox is brimming. Your kids are noisy. Oh, and it’s time for another Zoom call for work. The 2020 pandemic has forced big changes on most of us. We may be safe and sound at home, sticking to all the COVID guidelines. But we still have to cope with the demands of our new routines. So it’s no surprise that lots of us are looking for new ways to manage. For ways to stay healthy and sane, without finishing the chocolate supply.
What’s mindfulness and how can it help?
Mindfulness means to focus on the present moment. To be fully present and aware of what’s happening in our bodies and minds right now. The benefits of mindfulness include reduced anxiety and stress. What a great topic to learn about this year.
It’s all too easy to stop noticing the world around us. We get caught up in our thoughts and emotions, and lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling. While thoughts drive emotions and behaviour, they don’t always steer us in the right direction.
Ever found it hard to sleep, because your thoughts are spiralling around your head? Have you ever felt convinced that you have no choice but to do a particular thing? Until your friend points out otherwise, of course. Developing the ability to stand back from our thoughts is key to switching off our auto-pilot and finding positive new ways of living.
Reconnecting with our bodies means we also become more aware of our thoughts. We see things more clearly – and have a chance to change our internal narratives when they stop serving us well. This is how mindfulness can benefit our wellbeing – physically and mentally.
But how can you start to be more mindful…
So before we dive into the options for mindfulness courses, let’s take a mindful moment for ourselves. How was your week? And how are you feeling right now? Take a deep breath. Put your hand on your stomach and let your breath push it back. Pause and breathe out. Repeat this a few times and take time to really notice your body. Are you warm or cold? Are you tired or rested? What does breathing feel like physically?
Learning mindfulness is simple. But changing thoughts and habits, and creating healthier daily routines can take work. That’s where a mindfulness course can help. Here are the main choices – let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
Deciding what Mindfulness Course Is Right For You.
There’s an app for that
Mindfulness apps help millions of people manage their mental wellbeing. You’ll usually pay for a monthly subscription and get access to a library of guided videos, playlists and other content. This makes them great for beginners – and mindfulness sceptics.
Guided meditations are a great way to get into the mindfulness habit. Depending on the app you’ve chosen, you should get a wide range of topics covering common concerns. Think sleep, focus, anxiety and stress. But there are also a lot of niche playlists like ‘helping World Cup fans ease the anxiety of watching penalty shoot-outs’. It takes all sorts.
With your app on your phone, you can start meditating anywhere and anytime you want. Noise levels at home stressing you out? You can head out into the garden or local park. Still stuck with traveling to work? Headphones on the train can help you use that time positively.
Of course, there are drawbacks too. Screen time isn’t good for us and blue light is particularly harmful when it comes to sleep quality. Not to mention that when you’ve finished your meditation, you’re straight back to notifications, calls and other distractions. We know that smartphones have been designed to hook us in, so that we spend more and more time on them. Mindfulness could be the antidote – but only if it isn’t just another thing we do on our phones.
Some mindfulness apps also have lots of features. Choose from unguided, semi-guided or guided meditation timers. Sleep sounds, sleep casts or wind downs. Hourly live sessions with countdowns and viewer numbers. Hundreds of topics, playlists and sessions. Sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it?
This is why we’re sticking to real-life mindfulness at MindPanda. We’re obsessed with finding new ways to learn and to teach mindfulness. And to get our families involved too.
With COVID guidelines changing rapidly, in-person courses have been hit hard. So let’s talk about online courses instead. What’s great about this type of mindfulness course is that you get input from a real teacher. You’re part of a class of students and a community. And if you have any particular problems, you can get tailored advice. All without leaving the comfort of your own home.
When choosing an online course, make sure you look carefully at the curriculum. There are several different approaches, from spiritually-led to secular. It includes general introductions, teacher training and focus on specific health issues. (Like mindfulness-based stress reduction or MBSR).
It’s also worth bearing in mind that there isn’t a one, central mindfulness body in the UK. The British Association of Mindfulness-based Approaches (BAMBA) keeps a register of teachers. It checks for teacher training, insurance and supervision by another experienced professional.
If you’re looking for a Buddhist course, Buddhanet lists centres around the world. Get in touch with a centre near you for local recommendations. And the NHS service finder has details of specialist providers for particular conditions. (You can also talk to your GP, of course.)
This means that although many teachers do have accreditations, they’ll be from different institutions. Don’t feel shy about asking your teacher where they trained, including how long or in-depth the course was. This particularly the case if you have been diagnosed with a mental illness and need specialist support.
Online mindfulness courses do a great job, but the biggest downside is arguably the price. Many choices we looked at start at £500 – that’s a substantial cost for many people. And private, one-to-one sessions can be even more expensive.
30 Days of Mindfulness
At MindPanda, our mission is to make mindfulness simple. To us, this means affordable, accessible and screen-free. So what’s available to someone who wants to learn mindfulness without an app and for a reasonable price? That was the challenge we set ourselves to crack
Allow us to introduce our own MindPanda course. It’s called 30 Days of Mindfulness. Every day you have a new card with a mindfulness activity to try out. We cover all the main elements of wellbeing, from meditation and reflection, to food, movement and social connections.
The pack contains 35 double-layer, soft-touch cards. They’re beautiful and made to last. Perfect as a gift or for coming back to time and again. And you also get unlimited downloads of our worksheets – perfect for sharing with your family, colleagues or students.
Our experts have made sure the mindfulness activities are suitable for everyone, from beginners to seasoned meditators. They can help you establish your first mindfulness routines – or to mix things up if you need a change. All activities promote emotional wellbeing and focus, while reducing stress and anxiety.
We understand that everyone is different. What works perfectly for one person may not work well for you. This is why we’ll introduce you to a range of meditations. And help you to build self-awareness through journaling and reflection prompts. We hope that you’ll end the month with new knowledge about techniques and insights into what matters most in your life.
Our 30 Days of Mindfulness pack is already in use by thousands of customers across the country. This includes big organisations, like the NHS and Google . Want to see what they say? Check out our reviews.
So how can you choose the right mindfulness course for you? Take a moment to sit down and decide what you’d like to get out of it. And how much you’re prepared to spend. Then dip your toe in the water with a free trial, taster or low-cost option.
Leave a comment
We’d love to hear how you are going about getting in the mindfulness habit. And if there’s something you need help or feel stuck with. Please drop us a line with your thoughts in the comments below.
What is a mindfulness course?
A mindfulness course is a series of classes designed to introduce you to different mindfulness techniques and meditations. There are lots of choices from online courses to apps and mindfulness cards. But what works for one person might not work for another, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find what’s best for you A
Can you teach yourself mindfulness?
How can I get started with mindfulness?
The foundation of mindfulness is breathing. Try out a few exercises and guided meditations to see what works best for you. And take a few moments at regular intervals for some deep breaths and to reconnect with how your body is feeling.
Our 30 Days of Mindfulness course is also designed to help you get started with mindfulness.
Where can I study mindfulness?
There are lots of choices. Although in-person courses are affected by the current COVID-19 guidelines, you can join online courses or apps. Or study mindfulness right here, with MindPanda.
There are also some classic books that can introduce you to the topic. Look out for authors like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle.
How do I start being mindful?
You can start right now by taking a deep breath, down to your diaphragm. Count to four and breathe out slowly. Repeat a few times and start noticing how your body is feeling. If your thoughts start to wander, that’s absolutely normal. Just bring your focus back to your breath and your body. Simple mindfulness activities like this one are great for helping you to start being more mindful.
How do you maintain mindfulness?
This is a question we think about all the time. Human brains are designed to constantly think, to scan for dangers and opportunities. Arguably we can try to become more mindful over time. But even the Dalai Lama is still grappling with this.
This doesn’t mean you should give up. Take regular moments throughout your day to tune in with your breath and your body. And reflect on your mindfulness through regular journaling.
How do you know if you’re mindful?
1) You’re more aware of your emotions (positive and negative). Identifying your emotions is a key part of mindfulness and self-awareness.
2) You notice beauty in small things – a blue sky, a child’s smile, trees and flowers, for example. That doesn’t happen as often when you’re living on auto-pilot.
3) You feel grateful and can see the silver linings even on a bad day. That’s the mindful perspective in action.
How can I train my mind to be calm?
Human brains are designed to always be active. But you can calm your mind through regular mindfulness practice. Have a look at the MindPanda Resources page and our 30 Days of Mindfulness course for inspiration. By practicing the techniques during quiet moments, you’ll be better prepared for when things get stressful.