Mindfulness comes to Croydon: what can the UK’s hippest relaxation technique do for CR0?

By - Monday 12th May, 2014

The word ‘mindfulness’ is everywhere – and now it’s coming to Croydon. Tutor and committed practitioner Sue Bolton explains why she wants to change the way we think

Sue Bolton teaching the practise of mindfulness. Picture used with the permission of Sue Bolton and Sarah Brimelow.

Ever wished you could change your brain? Have a sunnier disposition, be more focussed, stress less? Well – it turns out you can.

Research at the University of Oxford shows you can actually pump up your brain – in the same way you can pump up your muscles in the gym – allowing you to to enjoy life more, make better relationships and improve your concentration. How long does it take? A couple of months is enough – by then scientists can measure that those parts of the brain have got thicker.

Decades of peer-reviewed research done on the effects of mindfulness – a technique leading to ‘bone-deep contentment’, says Professor Mark Williams in his book, Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World – are confirmed by thousands of research studies.

So far – so super-positive. But I can imagine the expressions of doubt crossing some readers’ faces. It’s a craze, a five-minute wonder, a big fuss got up by the media… right?

This isn’t just for hippies – the corporate world has picked up on the benefits

Mindfulness is nothing ‘flakey’. It’s simply about bringing your attention back to the present, which is something we do anyway, for example when we look at a beautiful sunset, or do the gardening, or focus on sport. Everyone can recognise that experience of being ‘in the moment’. The problem for many of us is that so often we are not in the moment – we are worrying about what’s happened in the past, or what’s coming in the future.

It’s also not easy! Rather like going to the gym, even if we know it will help, we often don’t want to actually go. The good news is that mindfulness training works on this tendency too. And it’s not just for hippies – the corporate world has not been slow to pick up on the benefits. Companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Nike and even Goldman-Sachs offer mindfulness training to their employees. When Transport for London ran a course some years ago they found that reported happiness at work increased by over 60% and absenteeism dropped by over 50%. Ah yes – another benefit of mindfulness – it boosts your immune system.

The other important thing to say is that mindfulness is not religious. Believers in anything and nothing can train and practise it. Speaking for myself, it has changed my life and made it richer, teaching me to see things from a broader perspective.

Mindfulness is a mental step back – which in my work as a teacher is a great help in the classroom! We learn to let go ways of thinking that are just not helpful and best of all, start to see the patterns of our thoughts and how these can trip us up and make life more difficult. I’m excited about what it has to offer the community of Croydon.

Sue Bolton

Sue Bolton

Susan Bolton has taught science at secondary level for many years, Appreciating the huge benefits of a mindfulness practice in her own life, she is passionate about offering to others the many benefits it brings, both personally and professionally. Susan has taught mindfulness courses over many years in different settings including primary and secondary schools and to staff, parents and pupils. Over the past 20 years she has trained extensively in mindfulness in the US, France, Germany and the UK including the University of Bangor Mindfulness Teacher training. This is mindfulness-based stress reduction teacher training based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts and Mark Williams, Professor of Psychology in Oxford She has worked with the Mindfulness in Schools Project and has completed training with Thich Nhat Hanh on specific applications of mindfulness in education. For more information visit www.workingspace.org.uk or call 07443 564394

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