Frequently Asked Questions

What model of mindfulness are your retreats based on?

The retreats we run are based on the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, as well as the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course, developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale at the Universities of Cambridge and Toronto. The two approaches are very closely related. The MBSR course has been used for over thirty years to help with anxiety, chronic health problems, and general well-being. The MBCT course was developed more recently, primarily for people with a history of depression, to help prevent relapse, although it is now also being taught to wider community groups.

Is a mindfulness retreat suitable for my current circumstances?

Our retreats are designed for people who want to find ways of working with stress more effectively and increase their overall awareness, well-being and capacity to flourish. It gently encourages moving towards experiences (including difficulties) in order to be work with them more skilfully, and this can be challenging as well as rewarding. If you have current mental health problems such as a major depressive episode, severe anxiety, untreated post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis, or are in a period of major life challenge such as recent bereavement, active substance addiction or current trauma, a mindfulness retreat may not be right for you at this time. We ask participants to complete a short confidential questionnaire prior to attending a retreat. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss your circumstances.

I am concerned that I may not be flexible enough for the 'movement' part of the retreat?

Movement during retreats is very gentle. Participants are encouraged to work within their physical limitations, whatever these may be.

I am concerned about being in a group situation.

It is not unusual to be concerned about working in a group. We work to create a safe and confidential environment for everyone to explore and share their experiences. There is no pressure to share in the group if you do not wish to, and we invite you to notice and work within your own safety zone.

Do your retreats offer periods of silence?

This depends on the retreat. Our introductory retreat does not offer long periods of silence, although there will be short periods during guided practices. However, other retreats for more experienced practitioners do include extended periods of silence. Please contact us if you would like more information.

I already have a mindfulness practice. Can I still come on your introductory weekend?

People with experience are very welcome on our introductory weekend and it can be helpful as a refresher. However, the retreat is oriented especially towards those who are new to mindfulness practice. If you are looking for longer periods of practice and / or silence you may like to try one of our retreats for experienced practitioners.

How many participants will there be on the retreat?

There is a maximum of 12 participants on each residential retreat. (Our one day retreats are are sometimes larger with on average 20 participants.)

Do you offer the 8-week MBSR course as well?

Ed Halliwell teaches the 8-week MBSR course at Mindfulness Sussex, and Mindfulness London.

What is the evidence that Mindfulness is helpful?

Over the past few decades, randomised-controlled trials of MBSR and MBCT have shown that mindfulness-based approaches are effective in managing stress, anxiety, depression, and addiction issues, as well as improving people's relationships, sharpening attention and aiding self-regulation and sleep. MBCT is recommended by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) for those who have had several episodes of depression, as it has been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of future relapse.

Mindfulness-based approaches have also been shown to empower and reduce symptom perception among patients with physical health problems, including chronic pain, heart disease, cancer, gastrointestinal disorders and high blood pressure, as well as improving immune system functioning.

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