Find the beauty in the muddle – Anonymous
Welcome to Kindermind Center (kaɪnder-maɪnd)!
A social purpose organization, Kindermind aims to promote kindness and reduce suffering by offering accessible, evidence-based mindfulness training rooted in rigorous standards of teaching, curious inquiry and research.
I specialize in teaching the 8-Week Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program that integrates mindfulness practices and cognitive therapy principles as a skilful response to distress namely stress, burnout, low moods, depression and anxiety.
While MBCT was originally designed for people with depression, it is also useful for a general population seeking to cultivate mental wellbeing. Like coding, wellbeing and happiness are skills that can be learnt.
What does it mean to practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness is about coming into the “being” mode ie to feel alive, to consciously exist, to fully embrace the moment, what Thoreau calls to be in “the bloom of the present”, instead of being stuck in the cycle of zombie-ness (autopilot, disconnected from reality), or in constant “driven-doing” mode ie needlessly judging, fixing, needing to control and avoiding. A sign of disconnectedness is grasping and feeling overwhelmed and dysregulated.
How we pay attention and what we pay attention to can colour our experiences. Attention is the gateway. Hence we intentionally wake up from being lost in the stories we tell ourselves to paying attention, with our whole being, to the present moment as it is, with curiosity, care and a sense of playfulness if you will. When we’re open to what is going on and unfolding inside us, the flow of our feelings and thoughts, we open ourselves to the possibility of healing and living each moment with ease instead of resistance.
When there’s congruence in our intentions, thoughts, physical body and actions, there is embodiment. We live with intentionality and presence.
As you are reading this, pausing for a moment, closing your eyes, and noticing how it feels when you are just acknowledging your breath and body. Just noticing.
This steadiness allows us to stay more focused and keep an open mind, which increases our capacity to lean in, to be calm, compassionate, grateful and resilient. On the other hand, notice what happens when the mind wanders aimlessly and gets lost in the chaos of thoughts and emotional reactivity. Is there a sense of emptiness, dissatisfaction, craving and worry?
Why practice mindfulness? Who are invested in mindfulness?
Life is increasingly uncertain and complex—it easily throws us off-balance, leaving us vulnerable to symptoms like depression, now a leading illness, according to WHO (World Health Organization). Making the transition to a post-Covid-19 world may not be easy either.
Studies show the efficacy of mindfulness in dealing with a range of conditions such as depression and anxiety, and in boosting productivity and work satisfaction. This is because mindfulness activates different parts of the brain, boosts neuroplasticity, and reduces the size of the amygdala (“reaction”, emotional center of the brain).
Emerging evidence also suggests that mindfulness could delay cognitive impairment such as dementia.
As such, universities like Harvard, Brown and Stanford, and companies such as Google, Microsoft, SAP and Aetna are invested in mindfulness programs.
What’s the history of MBCT?
MBCT was developed by three professors, Zindel Segal (Toronto), Mark Williams (now Oxford) and John Teasdale (Cambridge) in the 90s to reduce depression relapses.
MBCT practices are adapted from Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. MBSR was introduced in the US healthcare system in the 1970s as a way to help patients respond to chronic pain.
The longevity of these programs is a testament of their integrity.
MBCT adds cognitive therapy principles to appreciate how mental chatter, emotions and physical sensations compel us to act in a certain way. We also observe these inner experiences as merely transient physiological events, and come to appreciate that we do not have to be a slave to our emotions. We can therefore choose our response instead of rising to the bait of reactions.
Why choose MBCT?
MBCT is secular and therefore useful if you are seeking for a non-faith based approach to wellbeing. When you join this program, you are free to continue practicing your faith.
MBCT is backed by evidence, and approved by the National Health Service (NHS) in England as primary care treatment for depression, and potentially complements treatment of conditions like addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder. The UK National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) also recommends MBCT as an alternative primary care treatment.
MBCT teachers go through rigorous and supervised training and are obliged to observe good practice guidelines.
Why is MBCT also suitable for a non-clinical population?
The underlying cause of mental health conditions is similar to what holds people back. It is our deep-seated attachments and aversions, needing things to be in a particular way that lead to spontaneous reactions such as impatience, grasping (striving), ruminating and avoiding. These impulses to act or to avoid may provide immediate relief but may be maladaptive and hold us back from living fully. MBCT helps us see our automatic tendencies, and offers new ways to step back and flourish.
Life begins and ends with the mind. Join me on this journey of mindful growth!
Noelle Lim, Founder & Facilitator
Header image credit: Krista Mangulsone, Unsplash