An MBSR Course For Men
I have taught a good few mindfulness courses over the last few years. Invariably, most of the participants have been women, I’d say at least 80%. Without wishing to make assumptions or generalise, it seems that women are more open to the practices of mindfulness and self-compassion.
Perhaps there is a perception that it’s not masculine to be vulnerable or to embrace ‘not knowing?' Two things that mindfulness practice asks of us.
I remember when I was first learning to meditate, I purchased a book by Sharon Salzberg called “Lovingkindness and the revolutionary art of happiness”. It is a great book, full of insight, but 15 years ago I was ashamed to be seen in public reading it. As a young man full of insecurity, I didn’t want to be perceived as weak. I felt self-conscious. I used to fold the cover back so no one on the bus would see what I was reading. For years I hid the fact that I practiced. I have spoken with many other men about this and I know that I’m not alone.
I have also been involved with quite a few men’s groups over the last few years and I have always found that there is something very special about a group of men of different ages and backgrounds coming together to speak openly and honestly about what really matters. Willing to drop some of their armour and show vulnerability. Willing to learn from each other and support each other. Willing to stay in the space of ‘not knowing’. Not having to rely on alcohol in order to open up. Not staying on the surface with idle small talk about sport or current affairs. Unfortunately most male friendships remain at this surface level.
So my friend and fellow mindfulness teacher Niall Nolan and I decided to offer a mindfulness based stress reduction course for men. Niall has been practicing mediation for over 30 years and has a wealth of experience. Over eight weeks we will experiment with a variety of different practices together. There is often a misconception that mindfulness is all about managing stress or learning to relax. Sure, that often happens. At the heart of it though, it’s about insight and self-awareness. Seeing our unconscious habits and learning to respond skilfully. Learning to live consciously and in accordance with our values.
If this speaks to you, we would love you to join us!
As Grayson Perry writes in his book, the Descent of Man, every man should have the following rights:
The right to be vulnerable
The right to be weak
The right to be wrong
The right to be intuitive
The right not to know
The right to be uncertain
The right to be flexible
The right not to be ashamed of any of these.
About the Course (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction)
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre in 1979. The course is suitable for those with prior meditation experience as well as those who have none. It introduces participants to different forms of mindfulness practice including sitting meditation, body awareness and gentle mindful movement. As the emphasis is on bringing mindful awareness into everyday life, a commitment to daily home practice is required. At the end of the course participants should have acquired a set of practical tools that allow them to cope better with stress in the workplace, and in their personal lives, through increased self-awareness, emotional and attention regulation.
· The Programme is suitable for anyone who encounters stress and wishes to respond to stress in life with more understanding and ease. Not suitable if in the middle of an acute crisis.
· There will be an individual orientation call with each participant before the start, to enable each person to ask questions and to make sure it’s the right time to partake in this highly experiential programme.
This is an 8 week programme: A weekly session of 2.75 hours for eight weeks plus a silent practice half day retreat (date to be confirmed) from 10.00 to 3 pm IST. Participants are required to devote approximately 40 minutes per day to mindfulness practice at home between sessions.
The practices in the programme aim to help the participant to:
● Use mindfulness techniques to relate differently to worry and feelings of anxiety and better manage stressful situations in both work and home life
● Become familiar with the workings of the mind, including the ways we avoid or get caught up in difficulties
● Sustain the practice of mindfulness as a self-care tool that can be integrated into their work and home life
● Explore ways of releasing ourselves from old habits of mind that increase anxiety levels
● Get in touch with a different way of knowing themselves and the world
● Reduce the impact of self judgement and increase self acceptance
● Be able to exercise greater choice in life
● Manage interpersonal conflict more effectively
● Experience improved feelings of self-worth and compassion for others
Participants will receive a programme handbook. The main intention of this programme is to offer experiential learning. There will be the opportunity during the training for participants to practice and experience mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques. As mindfulness training is primarily experiential in nature, the main ‘work’ of the course is done at home between classes. Participants will receive a weekly email summarising the content and practice instructions for that week plus meditation recordings. Participants are required to practice at home during the week for a minimum 40 minutes per day.