Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

The Church of the Good Shepherd invites you to explore the classic 8-week course Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course in Four Marks, led by Dr David Bush.

This course returns in the spring of 2020. Running on Thursday evenings, the course begins on 16th January.

You can find out more at David’s website: www.clickmindfulness.co.uk, or email David at david@clickmindfulness.co.uk

The course normally costs around £300, but with COGs sponsoring and hosting the course, we are able to offer this free of charge.

Please contact Matt in the Church Office to book a place on the course.


Below David, answers some questions about the course...

You are running a Mindfulness Course – MBSR [Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction] – what’s that all about?

When we ran the Who Cares survey there were some strong repeating patterns that came out – these struck me at the time as many of the patterns we see in highly stressed people, and they are needs that a course like MBSR tries to address.

You practice mindfulness, and you also teach it?

Yes – I started practicing in about 2011 I think – I was having a very stressful time at work, and I saw the course, and went on it. Well – actually I saw the course, and because of the person I am I read a book or two to check it wasn’t too ‘tree-hugging’. I was quite impressed by the provenance, the scientific basis, and the evidence for its usefulness - and then went on the course! It helped – I wouldn’t say, for me, it was immediately transformational – but it has grown on me with further practice.  I then started the teacher training programme, and ran my first course in September last 2017.

So it helped take the stress away?

Its not quite like that! We have put on the course flier ‘You cant stop the waves, but you can learn to surf’ – sometimes the things in life that trouble us don’t go away – MBSR is more about learning to notice when and how these things are affecting us, and when we have noticed, to find ways to relate to those things in a more healthy way – that might be a wide way to remove the painful thing, or it might mean accepting that it cannot be removed – immediately, or maybe ever. That stress might come from pain in the body, from relationships, from work or family – difficult things happen in our lives.

So what can you tell us about the course?

Well it is 8 sessions long, once a week for 2 ½  hours. Those session contain a mixture of teaching, discussion and reflection, and quite a lot of practicing mindfulness – which might be mindfulness of our body, mindfulness of a breath, mindfulness of our thinking, or mindfulness of all of those things. There is a whole day retreat – where we can practice in a more immersed way for an extended period, and there are recordings and exercises to practice at home too.

Some people have expressed a concern to me the mindfulness is Buddhist?

I have heard that too, and I have thought a bit about how my Mindfulness practice relates to my Christian faith. When I look at Mindfulness I see a skill that people can learn – no magic, no mystery – just hard work – like reading or writing – it isn’t any sort of religious practice of itself. Once you have learned the skill – then you can apply it – if Buddhists apply it in their religion, fine – I am more interested in applying it in mine! It is true that in developing the MBSR course (and all mindfulness courses based on it) the creators drew on both eastern and western philosophy and psychology. But then our number system is based on the Hindu-Arabic numeral system, and I don’t see many Christians clamouring for us not to use that .

So is this a ‘Christian’ Mindfulness Course?

No. This is the official, secular, ‘according to the official syllabus from UMass’ course. I think people have developed Christian ‘versions’ of a mindfulness course – and that is their privilege, I suppose. What I have never seen is any strong research based evidence that those are more effective. I am a scientist – I like to see evidence that things work – there are hundreds of papers of the effectiveness of MBSR, and some special variations. When I can see some randomised clinical trail’s showing someone’s version is better (Christian or otherwise)  I might be persuaded. But just because something has ‘Christian’ written on it, it doesn’t mean it is good, healthy or effective. Imagine going to the doctor and him saying, “Ah. You’re a Christian, I’ve got this special ‘Christian’ penicillin. I mean we haven’t tested it, we don’t know if it works, or if its safe, but it is Christian penicillin – is that OK?”. So for me I’ll stick to what is proven, and I’ll watch the research to see what might be better.

So no modification at all?

Actually what we are doing is – for people who are Christian (and the course is open to anyone – church goer or not)  –but for Christians we are running a  session after the course where they can talk about and explore how they might use what they have learned on the course in their Christian faith and ministry.

So how do people find out more, or get involved?

The easiest place to start is to grab one of the postcards at the back . If people want to dig a bit deeper themselves – you could look at the website I use to support the course – clickmindfulness.co.uk – For those who are into heavy reading – Jon Kabat-Zinn, who devised the course at U Mass, has a book called ‘Full Catastrophe Living’ – a long read – but good if you really want to know more. Or chat with me, or send me an email.