Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

Learn to relate and take control over whatever is happening in your life, do something for yourself that no one else can do for you.

Increase your ability to relax, improve your self-esteem, and have more energy and enthusiasm for life.

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Within the pages of our website you will find detailed information about mindfulness and the practice of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. This secular process, originally described by Jon Kabat-Zinn, has been subjected to rigorous research, and there are now literally thousands of research papers published on the mental and physical benefits of developing psychological flexibility for both individuals and businesses alike. It has been shown to halve the risk of depression in certain groups, is at least as effective as antidepressants without their side effects, and is one of the preferred treatments recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the UK. But it is not just about our mental well-being. Studies have shown mindfulness to improve immune function, decrease blood pressure and improve mental and physical stamina. Practice can decrease the effects of cardio vascular disease, and the impact of chronic pain or cancer on our quality of life. In fact a major study of meditators over 19 years found a significant reduction in mortality: 23% decrease in all-cause mortality and a massive 30% in the rate of mortality from cardiovascular disease. There was also a large decrease in mortality due to cancer in the meditation group compared to controls.

In the words of Professor Mark Williams from Oxford University one of the world's foremost researchers and teachers of mindfulness:

"This is the equivalent to discovering an entirely new class of drugs, but without the inevitable side effects"

In the face of an ever increasing pace of life it is harder and harder for us all to find peace, contentment or happiness. Many authors offer external solutions to these and other problems, promising a quick 'fix' despite our knowing for thousands of years that the resources to harness these illusive states lies within us all, and the science is now there to prove it.

My own Mindful journey started whilst studying for my PhD (in the obstacles to recovery from low back pain), dealing with the stress of work and study, and coming to my senses that prevention was better than cure. Why wait until mental or physical illness forced me to take better care of myself? We know that the things we do for ourselves are much better for us than things others can do, and as with physical exercise, the intention to take better care of ourselves is the all important first step.

So, as with all responsible mindfulness teachers, I started my own personal practice before doing the 8 week mbsr course for the first time, went on a silent retreat, and then a training retreat with Professor Williams. I then started observing and then co-teaching 8 week courses (2.5 hrs. once per week over 8 weeks) with my friend and mentor Don Spencer in Queensland, before venturing out on my own.

"Practice as if your life depended on it, as in many ways is surely does. For then you will be able to live the life you have-and live it as if it truly mattered" (Professor Mark Williams).

Mindfulness in schools project The following video is of Richard Burnett one of the founders of the Mindfulness in Schools project in the UK. The video explains the concept of bringing mindfulness skills into the classroom to help teenagers with the ever increasing levels of stress and teenage anxiety. Dr Penney was fortunate to attend the first teacher training retreat held outside the UK in February 2013 and is the first mindfulness teacher trained to teach the program in New Zealand. A pilot program begins at macleans College in Auckland in May 2013 with other schools set to follow. The program will also be available privately, please call or email for details.

Testimonial

Dr Nick Penney
437 Remuera Road
Remuera
Auckland
13 August, 2013

Dear Dr Penney,
Re Pilot of . b An Introduction to Mindfulness Programme
I wish to express the sincere appreciation of the student participants from Macleans College and the counselling team for your work last term with our selected year 11 and year 12 students in the weekly sessions forming the programme .b An Introduction to Mindfulness.

It is a very meaningful and useful programme on many levels for our adolescent community. The students found its value in reducing stress in a variety of examination contexts, including practical music assessments as well as formal written exams. In addition it provided them with very key strategies to control their levels of anxiety and concern not only in the school context but also in their wider contexts. For one student this course changed her ability to cope with her depression, which would have otherwise have resulted in a referral to the Adolescent mental Health Unit of Whirinaki.

The students valued your expertise and knowledge, as well as your accepting and flexible approach to them. There was unanimous agreement that your personal delivery of the course was stimulating, and thought provoking. They enjoyed the quiet reassurance that learning these skills was a lifelong focus. In a very supportive and non-threatening environment, the students were guided in identifying their own stressors and reactions and encouraged to communicate their reactions and responses as they were introduced to and practised the new skills and focus of mindfulness in their lives.

The student participants noted its use particularly for calming and relaxing themselves, coping with stress better, and helping them perform better in exams. It had immediate impact for several students as they faced the assessments in the school context. I include comments from the students themselves:
I panic. It is my nature. This (.b) allows me to deal with stress, insomnia, nagging thoughts, catastrophising, and in a way that is simply put.
It made me think and question things I don’t have the answers to, and allowed me ways to deal with issues.
I liked how every lesson was helping me be a better person

I think mindfulness will help me be more physically conscious throughout everyday life. Conscious in the sense that instead of seeing every day as a series of routines, I will be aware of what I’m doing and begin to appreciate everything for what it is. What did I like about it? The simplicity about it, yet how useful it is

The programme certainly was teenage- friendly, with a range of audios and practices, as well as home practices that could be implemented immediately after lessons and encouraged students to internalise their learning.
I value your guidance and expertise, and can thoroughly endorse this programme.

Kind regards

Gay Gallagher (Mrs)
M.Ed (Counselling); M. Gifted Ed; B. Ed (Teaching)
MNZAC
School Guidance Counsellor
Macleans College

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Dr Nick Penney PhD