News Update

MINDFULNESS PROGRAMS

FOR

STRESS, PAIN & CHRONIC ILLNESS, BURNOUT RESILIENCE, AND

MINDFUL SELF-COMPASSION

 

Read about the M4 courses here.

To receive information about the schedule for the information sessions, click here to send us your contact information.

If you are a healthcare professional and interested in entering our Professional Training Path in mindfulness skills, read about it here.

 

World Mental Health Day – Why it matters

I blog for World Mental Health DayWhen I think of mental health, somehow my inner voice switches the last word to” illness.” It’s used so interchangeably that we shouldn’t be surprised about the stigma and aversion that grows around the topic. Health is never really a concern to us until it becomes an illness that needs attention. Yet, physical health devolving into physical illness is easier and more acceptable to talk about than mental health dissolving into mental illness.

The other difficulty is that wellness and illness are set up as polar opposites. It’s as if they are mutually exclusive and one is a preferred state. The radical view is that they are not even a continuum. Each arises out of a set of causes and conditions in our life. Take away one of those causes and conditions (or some of them) and our mental state will change.

Going through graduate school in psychology, I struggled with the training as it opened me up to many past experiences that I didn’t even know had caused pain and suffering. I was a child immigrant in the 60’s when being an immigrant was an unusual state and support was minimal. Where I grew up, I had been exposed various forms of violence and lived in a state of constant threat. As I progressed through my training, many emotions began to surface, which I now recognize as trauma-related. Then, however, in supervision and interactions with my classmates what was only evident was that my emotions were all over the place. I remember feeling deeply ashamed and angry, frustrated and confused. It seemed like everything I did was viewed terribly different from what I intended. I seemed like everything I said or tried to communicate came out wrong or with an inflection that was unintended. And yet, I was successful as a student, getting praise from my internship clinical supervisors, good grades, and guarded respect from professors who appeared not to be turned off by how I was.

hearts-waterI sought help in therapy for what I thought was Borderline Personality Disorder. Self-diagnosis an occupational hazard of being a clinical student. In my first session, I told my therapist I was there because I was “so BPD!” Even then I felt the stab of how I was stigmatizing myself and name-calling my suffering. We worked together for five years; it was a roller coaster process. His only message was that I needed to stop denigrating myself, stop buying into the propaganda in my head (and from the world around me). I didn’t “have” BPD because it’s not a virus. I wasn’t bad because I believed I was an angry person because it’s not a character flaw. (My actions were unskillful, no doubt, but that’s not part of my character; it’s a learned repretoire .)

Over time, I began to value the idea that under some conditions, I can be quite skillful. And that skillfulness ranges depending on my fatigue, awareness of my limits, and most especially on how I treat myself. Slowly I began to understand and lean with compassion towards the residue of the various traumas in my life. Depression, anxiety, perfectionism, the dark thoughts and shame about them became my friends and we sat down to tea everyday.

I’ve learned through my personal practice of mindfulness which began in the 1970’s and grew more deliberate over the years that there are storms in everyone’s life. No one is immune to pain and suffering, joy and love. Our work is to learn how to be steady in the wild winds, to bend and be flexible so as not to break, to trust the heartwood of who we are. Mindfulness teaches us that steadiness in the face of joy and woe. Self-compassion gives us flexibility so our harsh criticisms don’t leave us rigid and vulnerable.

And community. A supportive group of people who see us as valued members of a larger net is indispensable. We cannot walk these dark paths alone. We should not have to. Wellness and illness are not polar opposites. They arise out of the inner and outer landscape we travel across. And companionship helps. Immensely.

Mary Oliver, in her poem Wild Geese, writes: “Tell me about despair, yours. And I will tell you mine.” To become better at being who we truly are, we must give voice to our fears and struggles. We must gather as companions and travel with confidence through the light and dark of our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving and may we all walk together with wisdom and compassion.

Lynette

 

 

Mindfulness training retreat with Mark Coleman & Mary Elliott at UoToronto

Mastering Mindfulness – Personally and Professionally with Mark Coleman

Fall Training October 20-24th 2014 (8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

Hart House, University of Toronto

This multi tiered mindfulness training program explores mindfulness theory, practice and teacher development. It is intended for those working in healthcare and while it is suitable for those working in any healthcare setting, it was designed to be particularly suitable for those working with the medically ill. Part 1 is for healthcare professionals wishing to use mindfulness for their own well being, deepen their own mindfulness practice; enhance therapeutic presence and communication with patients; and those wanting to begin to utilize mindfulness based techniques with clients. For those wanting to move on to teaching mindfulness-based groups and introduce mindfulness techniques to patients, it provides the foundational base for the Part 2 and 3 (Spring and Fall 2015) of the course which provides more in – depth training on how to teach mindfulness techniques and practices.

Objectives: Part 1 – Practitioner Training – Foundations of Teaching

  • To deepen the practitioner’s understanding of the ways in which mindfulness intervention can enhance health care; including healthcare provider self care, improved presence and communication with patients and as an intervention to improve both personal and patient well-being.
  • Through experiential learning methods participants will deepen their personal practice of mindfulness, learn how to cultivate awareness, train attention, and understand how mindfulness supports presence, compassion and resiliency in every aspect of life.
  • Participants will explore the benefit of enhanced presence and its impact on self, patient interaction and the hospital environment.
  • Attendees will have a better understanding of the foundational roots of mindfulness practices.

Faculty

Mark Coleman MA is the founder of the Mindfulness Institute and a senior teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, California. He teaches mindfulness workshops, courses, and retreats internationally, including trainings for Proctor & Gamble, Gap, Facebook, US Bank, Google, Prana and for UC Berkeley and UCSF University. He is a trainer at Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI) developed at Google. He holds a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. Mark is the author of Awake in the Wild : Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery and Poems from the Wild (www.awakeinthewild.com). He is the co-creator Mindful Healthcare: C.P.R. (Compassion, Presences and Resilience) Training for Health Providers.

Mary Elliott, MD, FRCP (C), has worked as a consulting psychiatrist and psychotherapist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, University of Toronto for the past 25 years. She now runs the Mindful Healthcare program at Princess Margaret. She is the co-creator of Mindful Healthcare: C.P.R. (Compassion, Presences and Resilience) Training for Health Providers.

Part 1 – Practitioner Training – Foundations of Teaching

Cost: $500.00. Scholarships available. Generous support from the Corrigan Family Fund.

Optional Part 2 – Teacher Training –

Foundations in Teaching Spring 2015 with mentorship opportunities for those enrolling in Part 2.

To register contact: sherene.tay@uhn.ca

Or call 416-946-2897

U of T Applied Mindfulness Meditation – MIND Certificate Program Registration Open Now

APPLIED MINDFULNESS MEDITATION – MIND CERTIFICATE PROGRAM AT UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

AMM-MIND program : an interprofessional certificate on mindfulness and mindfulness meditation training, education and integration into our lives. The Inter-professional AMM-MIND certificate at University of Toronto has become internationally , nationally and locally recognized as a unique and exceptional gathering of mindfulness based practitioners, faculty, and mindful leaders who are trying to co-operatively integrate mindfulness and mindfulness meditation into lives, as a way of being , 24/7.

It is our hope to enhance the health , wellness and resiliency of people- no matter what their walk in life. It is also our hope to enhance the humanity in organizations and to bring healthy change to the people who live, work and play in the many systems which make up a vibrant society.

At AMM-MIND we teach applications of mindfulness that are drawn from the 2500 year old traditions of contemplative practice which are now tested and translated into evidence based research. These practices have been proven to: enhance health, wellness and resiliency, develop increased attentional skills and focus, which can reduce error and stress, sick days etc. Imagine the impact of these practices in the health and/or educational system, in the corporate world, in decision making and in leadership. At AMM-MIND we work from a concept of the embodied mind rather than the enskulled brain, that is, we strive for the integration of mind-body relationship in community to enhance health , wellness, resiliency and humanity.

If you are interested in learning about this practice, its history of use and application, in how to integrate this practice into your life at work or at home, in the why and how we meditate then please come join us and be the change- as well as bring the change.

To explore our program’s offering, to seek further consultation with administration or to register for our Open House or workshops.

http://socialwork.utoronto.ca/conted/programs-and-workshops/certificates/mind/

Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
University of Toronto
246 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON, Canada

Credible Teachers of Mindfulness: How can you know?

Mindfulness-Based programs have become the go-to treatment around the world and their popularity has made treatment more accessible in many ways. Despite the popularity or maybe because of it, several articles have argued against mindfulness because it  (1) seems to be the fix-it for many ills, (2) doesn’t stay true to its Buddhist roots and (3) understates its “dark side”. There is concern that mindfulness therapies and programs are often sold as much better than the traditional methods of treating depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. Such concerns were supported when a recent study showed that statistically mindfulness-based therapies (MBTs) have a moderate effect when studied in comparison with wait-list controls and when participants are compared to their pre-post scores. More than that, MBTs are not better than traditional cognitive behavioural therapy or pharmacological treatments. The deepest concern however relates to the qualifications of those who teach mindfulness as more and more programs are offered by individuals and groups with little or no training in mindfulness concepts and approaches.

Elisha Goldstein, writing for the magazine Mindfulness, re-stated some of these issues that constitute a “mindfulness backlash” in his recent blog post which claimed that there is little evidence for a backlash. What stands out in his discussion about the issues facing programs that offer mindfulness is the emphasis on trusting that “skilled mindfulness teachers” will neither over-sell the treatment scope and that “credible teachers” will walk participants through their misunderstanding of what is mindfulness. Goldstein goes on to say – even more emphatically – that it is important to seek out teachers who are well-trained. He adds a link to finding qualified teachers via the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts, the birthplace of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

What is left unsaid however is that the focus of all discussions and debates of mindfulness programs are anchored in the original one, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This particular program was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn and the acronym has taken on an iconic status much like the terms Xerox or Kleenex. When most professionals discuss mindfulness programs they are typically referring to MBSR unless it is clear from the outset that the topic is related to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). This assumption leads to confusion because MBSR, while being the original, is not the only mindfulness treatment program.

Does it matter? Absolutely. While most programs have a similar format (8-10 weeks, groups, meditation and yoga, etc.), significant aspects of the program will differ. Even more than that, the type of training and confirmation of skills of the teacher will differ considerably. And since Goldstein makes a very good point that we need to find credible teachers, it is important to note that not all qualified mindfulness teachers will have been trained in MBSR itself.

Recently, the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts (CFM-UMass; the home base for MBSR and training of MBSR teachers) announced a format of teacher training that includes training those who will train teachers. While it’s perfectly understandable that CFM-UMass has taken a firm stand in cultivating MBSR teachers, this move is not without its detractors. However, it will filter those who have been teaching without full training at CFM-UMass and passing their programs off as MBSR. Nevertheless, this raises a difficult issue for those who have been trained in approaches that are not MBSR but which are legitimate approaches; the cachet of the term MBSR now takes on a more serious tone because many identify it as THE treatment program and may be confused by others.

That being the case, it is important to know that there are a number of other training centres that train teachers for mindfulness programs.

The M4 Program, Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic. The M4 (includes Mindfulness-Based Symptom Management; MBSM) training is in-depth and takes as long as a year. It requires applicants to have a clear rationale for wanting the training and expects a high level of participation. They attend the 8-week program as participants and do twice the expected formal and informal practices. They must attend a silent retreat in the year of their training. Current research and topics in mindfulness treatments are researched especially in their area of interest of specialization. They attend a training in the specifics of the delivering the program and in cultivating teacher qualities. Before teaching the M4 potential teachers must teach under supervision (qualification level) and then teach for 3 sessions with senior teachers in the clinic for Certification.

MBSR, University of Massachusetts, Center for Mindfulness. This is the original MBSR program and the training is extensive.

MBCT, The Centre for Mindfulness Studies. The training in MBCT is offered through various forms of study and teacher development. This program is supported by the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (University of Toronto) which offers a certificate in MBCT.

MiCBT, Mindfulness integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. An approach to mindfulness that weaves together Western psychology with Eastern principles of mindfulness. Training is comprehensive and a graduate diploma is offered for teachers.

Applied Mindfulness Meditation, Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. This program offers what is likely one of the most extensive trainings in mindfulness, meditation, and all its attendant components.

Training in the UK. This website lists various programs that train mindfulness teachers, including MBCT teachers. Rebecca Crane and her colleagues at Bangor University have also developed a teaching assessment protocol for the cultivation of mindfulness teachers which is a gold standard for any teacher who is dedicated to cultivating their skills.

Mindful Self-Compassion, Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. Developed by Christopher Germer and Kristin Neff, Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) has developed a following in the last year as the teacher training becomes more available globally.

UCSD Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute. For training in various mindfulness-based programs such as Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention, Mindful Eating, etc.

Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy offers a certificate program in mindfulness and psychotherapy. The founding practitioners include Paul Fulton, Christopher Germer, Ronald Siegel, Trudy Goodman – all well-regarded in the field of meditation and clinical psychology.

If you intend to take a mindfulness program, ask the sticky questions. It’s your health and your wellbeing. Be informed. The program may not be MBSR. And it may be something valid and well-supported in its own right.

 

2014 Teacher Training Graduates

Graduates of M4 Teacher Training - Foundational Level

Graduates of M4 Teacher Training – Foundational Level

 

Please welcome our new graduates of the Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic M4 Program Teacher Training (Level I – Foundations of Mindfulness).

It was an amazing weekend filled with flooded out rental rooms and air conditioners that struggled with the heat! This weekend retreat capped the participants hard work that, in some cases, took a year of study and practice. These graduates have completed the 8-week M4 program, researched and reviewed the current issues in mindfulness treatments, attended silent retreats, and developed practice in the program fundamentals of a mindfulness program. In this retreat, they will have practiced the essentials of a mindfulness program including incorporating ethics into a mindfulness curriculum.

A deep bow of gratitude to our senior teachers (Level II – Certified) who helped with the training.

 

Further Comments on Happiness

Lynette Monteiro:

A brilliant examination of the way we become caught in the false promises of the Happiness Industry. Also read the previous post, a review of Sarah Ahmed book, The Promise of Happiness.

Originally posted on Smiling Buddha Cabaret:

Drawing in part on some of the points made in Sara Ahmed’s book The Promise of Happiness, which I just reviewed in the last post, as well as current events there are a few more points about the topic of happiness I wish to touch upon.

Self-help books are full of advice about attaining “happiness” but many of them don’t define what they mean by “happiness”.

What does “happiness” even mean in common parlance? Ask a dozen people and you’ll get a dozen answers. Words like blissful, relaxed, stress-free, joyful, carefree, comfortable, ecstatic and peaceful would possibly be used. The problem with these is they don’t really refer to anything. They have no relation to one’s context. They are states of being that seem to be achievable in isolation or that is the way they come across in these books and other media.

The thing is we don’t live…

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Men’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Ottawa Officially Proclaimed

Lynette Monteiro:

We are honoured to have been invited to be part of this historic moment in MENtal Health progress in Canada. The first ever Men’s Mental Health Awareness Day proclaimed in Ottawa and actioned by Jean-Francois Claude, a graduate of the Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic’s M4 program. Thank you, J.F. and may this initiative grow into a nation-wide endeavour!

Originally posted on The Men's Depression Education Network (Men's D.E.N.):

Mayor Jim Watson (r) and Orléans Ward City Councillor Bob Monette (l) present TheMensDEN.ca founder, Jean-François Claude, with the official Proclamation marking June 10, 2014 as Men's Mental Health Awareness Day in Ottawa. PHOTO: Benjamin Leikin, Ottawa Public Health.

Mayor Jim Watson (r) and Orléans Ward City Councillor Bob Monette (l) present TheMensDEN.ca founder, Jean-François Claude, with the official Proclamation marking June 10, 2014 as Men’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Ottawa. PHOTO: Benjamin Leikin, Ottawa Public Health.

Ottawa ON – The first of what will hopefully be an annual Men’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Ottawa was held on Tuesday, June 10, 2014.

The day kicked off with a special presentation ceremony in Mayor Jim Watson’s Office at Ottawa City Hall, where The Men’s D.E.N. founder, Jean-François Claude, received a framed, signed copy of the official City of Ottawa Proclamation from the Mayor and City Councillor Bob Monette.

Representatives from The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, the Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic, Partners for Mental Health, the Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre and Ottawa Public Health were also in attendance.

The day was capped off with Breaking Down…

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