I was down in London yesterday for the Mindful Living Show. This was the third year and bigger and busier than ever, with 8 theatres/zones to choose from. I created my own mini-programme (see below). It was pretty full-on, but an insightful and inspiring day!
Comedian and author Russell Brand kicked off the day in entertaining fashion as the keynote speaker. He talked about how meditation has helped him on his journey of recovery from addiction.
Dr Trudi Edginton of the University of London presented The benefits of integrating mindfulness and compassion into the workplace of front line services. She showed the results of studies that ran workplace courses for groups of charity, social workers or police. One of the key findings was that variable heart rates increased among those practising mindfulness and compassion as a result of the courses, showing they had better resilience to stress.
Choden (Sean McGovern), the director of the Mindfulness Association, shared an insight practice that alternated between focused and unfocused attention. He acknowledged the tendency we all have to push away difficult emotions. He asked us to examine “How do you feel about what you’re feeling now?” and to explore accepting whatever emotion showed up.
Unfortunately, all the headsets were taken for the ‘Fresh & funky’ tai chi & qigong session in the Body and Mind space, but I joined in for a good stretch and some energising breathing inbetween the seated presentations! See the video above.
The Mindful approach to menopause by Clarissa Hughes highlighted some interesting physiological and cultural factors of menopause, and how mindfulness practices can ease symptoms.
Sita Brand introduced a session on Mindfulness and creativity, starting with a simple grounding practice focused on the sound of a bell. The intention was to settle the mind, creating space for creative ideas and inspiration to emerge from the subconscious. Sita also talked about the writer retreats she runs, incorporating mindfulness.
Psychologist Miguel Farias gave a fascinating presentation based on his book, The Buddha Pill: can meditation change you? He discussed the ‘evolution’ of meditation and its potential to transform society. However, he noted that with the secularisation of mindfulness, the focus is often on individual transformation, rather than collective and social.
Finally, Tim Duerden of Integrated Mindfulness, who is a senior lecturer at Salford University, talked about research into the effectiveness of Mindfulness for anxiety and depression. He noted that the MBSR and MBCT interventions are standardised, evidence-based programmes, that there has been little research on modifications to these programmes or other approaches, and suggested that mindfulness courses may need to be trauma-sensitive and more person-centred.