Why We Love: The Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC), which is part of the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry, is a global leader in mindfulness research and training. So if you’re interested in evidence-based mindfulness, this is the place to learn.
The courses offered at the OMC are designed to resource you with practical skills and self-knowledge to live life with a greater sense of wellbeing, kindness and resilience. On a personal note, I found this knowledge so transformative in my life that I decided to become a Mindfulness teacher and contribute to the spread of these practises.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a skill that can be cultivated by any human being with a bit of training and patience. It’s quite literally the ability to pay attention to our experience in the present moment, with compassion, curiosity and acceptance. The process involves cultivating mindful awareness of our mind, emotions, and body in way that reduces suffering, promotes recilience and realise our potential.
The courses offered at the OMC are a powerful blend of modern psychology and the ancient wisdom of meditation referred to as Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
For Who: I consider mindfulness a bit like an instruction manual for how your mind works, which all humans should receive to avoid unnecessary suffering and to help you live life more fully.
With that said, like any powerful tool, it may not be suitable for everyone. If you are currently experiencing severe physical or psychological problems it is generally not recommended. You may discuss your individual suitability with a teacher.
If you are an experienced meditator, but perhaps having spent less time doing MBCT in particular, I recommend starting with the Mindfulness for Life course. It’s useful for all levels.
Format: The mindfulness courses are offered via Zoom in a group environment with 1-2 hour sessions over 3-10 weeks depending on the course. The work is experience-based, meaning you’ll mostly be doing cognitive exercises and meditations to support your learning process.
A personal note…
I am generally not a big fan of these zoom group environments and I don’t enjoy speaking up in front of 15 strangers. However, I need to credit the experienced teachers for creating a learning environment infused with kindness, compassion and curiosity. This enabled the development of a quite surprising bond between the participants in the group as the 8 weeks progressed, which was really nice to be part of.
Overall, the course work felt straightforward and purposeful…without denying the presence of frustration and stress for not making time for the ‘homework’ (recommended daily practice) or not seeing the benefits fast enough. This is a pretty normal part of the learning process and as the weeks progressed I felt I had more tools to deal with these negative feelings.