Through a number of workshops you will become acquainted with the practical side of Mindfulness and Sophrology. Life is busy, our diaries are full, a good many people want something from us, and not everyone has the time to take out 30 minutes to sit on a cushion to meditate their head empty. Of course, the theoretical backgrounds, the standard mindfulness meditations and relaxation exercises of sophrology will also be discussed but the intention is that you leave with a toolbox full of techniques to cope with stressful situations we are confronted with outside of the “cushion time”. Integrating consciousness, energetic power and positivity within the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Why a combination of Sophrology and Mindfulness?
Both methods (or philosophies) have a lot of common ground. The common ground lies in becoming aware of your own body and physical responses (awareness of yourself) in relation to the people around you and your environment. And in becoming aware of how you are functioning in the now and your vision on the future is influenced by events from the past. Both use breathing techniques. Our breathing is in fact the only part of our autonomic nervous system that we can influence ourselves, in contrast to our heartbeat, blood pressure, energy production, digestion or metabolism. Under pressure (in stress, anger, or anxiety) we see all kinds of involuntary physical reactions such as sweating, reddening of the face, palpitations, loss of appetite, chills, diarrhoea etc. that we don’t seem to have any control over. This may also give us the feeling that we have no influence whatsoever on what surrounds us and happens to us. Breathing techniques and meditation exercises can then help us to find tranquillity again.
But more is needed to be able to handle being under pressure for a long time.
The basis of Mindfulness lies in Buddhism. Jon Kabat-Zinn developed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction 30 years ago, or Mindfulness. Mindfulness is consciously living in the now, fully attentive, with a mild, non-judgmental attitude towards yourself and others. Mindfulness teaches you to distinguish between what is important and less important in life, so you can devote yourself to what really fulfils you without too much energy loss. Simply put, setting priorities and boundaries, and only giving attention to the things that are beneficial to our own well-being and the people around us. Mindfulness teaches people to work in a relaxed way, to live in the now without stress, to park goals if necessary and to use the process in the now to create a full and happy life.
In our workshops you will not just be taught how to sit on a cushion and empty your head, we will above all provide tools and techniques from cognitive behavioural therapy to learn in a practical way to deal with difficult and stressful situations and to quickly regain your balance. Much attention is paid to practicing and developing a neutral response, a less reactive attitude to pressure and maintaining a calm, composed and balanced mind. We will recognize the difficulties and not to think them away, but we will deal with them more consciously and with equanimity. An equanimous mind is an important part of mindfulness skill because it gives us the ability to remain less reactive and less judgemental no matter what is experienced, thereby giving us a feeling of ease, self-control and composure as we go about our daily lives.
Mindfulness-integrated Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (MiCBT) teaches people a practical set of evidence-based techniques derived from Mindfulness training to control the processes that maintain unrealistic thoughts and beliefs. Who are you, what do you want and where do you want to go? Does your truth correspond with reality? Is your behaviour consistent with what you want to achieve? It makes us aware of the constantly changing nature of all things, including our own mental and emotional experiences. By experiencing the changing nature of internal experiences, we can learn to see ourselves in a more flexible and objective way. This makes life a little calmer, more balanced and above all a lot more fun. We can detach ourselves from rigid views and habits that may lead to stress and unhappiness.
Sophrology is a method introduced in 1960 by neuropsychiatrist Alfonso Caycedo. Caycedian Sophrology is a structured consciousness method that blends Western techniques (neurophysiology, relaxation methods, phenomenology) with Eastern applications (yoga, zazen, Buddhist meditation). The method is based on harmonising the unity of body and mind, and is aimed at physical relaxation to reduce stress, improve the quality of our daily lives and balancing our emotions, thoughts and behaviours. Promoting mental and physical well-being is achieved through easy-to-do gentle physical movements, guided breathing and mental visualisations that, when practised regularly, lead to a healthy, relaxed body and a calm, alert mind. The movements are called dynamic relaxation (relaxation in movement) and can be done anytime, anywhere. Initially the method was applied as a therapeutic technique in pain patients, in the preparation for childbirth and in physiotherapy. Meanwhile, the applications have been extended to the following areas: sports and education, the social sector and of course further into the medical world, with remarkable results. Current applications include: stress problems, tension headache, burnout, fatigue syndrome, cardiac rehabilitation, voice problems, hyperventilation, sleep disorders, prevention of sports injuries, high level performance enhancement and staying healthy, concentration problems, fear of failure, palliative care, sexual problems, PTSD, improving memory, emotion control, dealing with conflicts, assertiveness, developing self-confidence, better dealing with disappointments, etc. Given in groups, Sophrology can be used to contribute to the process of team building, communicating with respect to individual differences, leadership and stress management.