A little bit of history. Mindfulness practice came into health care over 35 years ago, thanks to Jon Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues, who developed an eight-week course in mindfulness for people with chronic health conditions at the Massachusetts Medical School, USA. This course is now called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and is used all over the world, for a variety of different health conditions.
A little over 10 years ago three psychologists – Mark Williams, John Teasdale and Zindel Segal – adapted the MBSR course for people who had suffered from depression, as a way to prevent relapse. They called their course Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and it’s largely is due to them that mindfulness as a health intervention has become so well known in the UK.
In the meantime, Vidyamala Burch was developing her own adaptation of MBSR, based on her experience of chronic pain, which she calls the Breathworks Living Well with Pain and Illness course. (For information on this, go to article). The Breathworks Mindfulness for Stress course was developed by Gary Hennessey (see Teachers page) specifically for people who find the demands of contemporary life stressful.
“I’d like to say a huge, heartfelt thank you for the truly wonderful workshop on kindness and compassion. I enjoyed all the aspects of it very much indeed, and have learned a great deal to take forward into both my meditation practice and my daily life. I came away feeling a profound sense of inner peace.”
“One of the most meaningful aspects of the workshop for me was meeting and practicing with other people who have similar stories to me to tell, and knowing that there are other people who know where I’m coming from right now.”
“PLEASE do some more workshops. I’ll be first in the queue (again)!!”
Email from someone who attended a recent Kindness and Compassion Workshop
So, while Breathworks mindfulness courses are similar to the MBSR and MBCT courses (probably 90% in common), they are also a little different. One of the ways they differ is our inclusion of the kindly awareness, or kindness meditation practice. Although this is taught on the MBSR and MBCT day retreats, it is not part of their eight-week course.
“I found the kindness meditation from the mindfulness course last May one of the most powerful of the exercises that I did, both at the time and later over last summer when I returned to it for a time.“- email from someone who attended the Mindfulness for Stress course.
We’ve therefore been heartened and encouraged to hear of the work of Professor Paul Gilbert in the UK, and Professor Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer, in the USA, on compassion. To find out more about the benefits of developing kindness towards oneself and others, we recommend The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher Germer, and Self Compassion by Kristin Neff. The Art of Being Kind by Stefan Einhorn, is also a lovely, practical book, and if you’re interested in the proven health benefits of kindness, Why Kindness is Good for You by David R. Hamilton is full of the results of various research studies.
Dates for the next Kindness and Compassion workshops can be found on this page.