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New Beginnings - our first online mindfulness course for Royal United Hospital, Bath

I have the privilege of teaching the first online mindfulness course for front line nurses and healthcare staff at the RUH. We have a close relationship with the RUH with Jacky Slade (from MPCP) and our associate Emma Thom (from The Mindful Choice) teaching face-to-face courses in the Education Centre on the campus since 2017.

This is such an important course at such a critical time, I thought that I’d do a periodic blog over the next weeks to capture a few high spots. We’ve just completed Sessions 1, Stepping off the Hamster Wheel of Autopilot Mode and 2, Keeping the Body in Mind. And this is what I’ve noticed coming up for me so far:

Hugh Respect! – This is such a tough time for everyone, but the intense and challenging conditions in our hospitals are taking a toll on everyone who works there. My utmost respect to those committing to this course at this time taking the radical step of making some space to discover what mindfulness might offer ‘in the midst of all this’.

Smiles and Amusement! The home practice for the first week included choosing a routine ordinary day task and bring a mindful attention to it. We had practiced this together in Session 1. Oh, the joy and endless amusement when we discovered just how creative people could be in selecting what they would pay attention to over the week. Confidentiality prevents me from disclosing what these were, but the cleaning task chosen was certainly a first in my experience.

Curiosity! Maybe because the group are healthcare staff- but there is a lovely sense of curiosity and experimentation already developing. Mindfulness is so much about bringing a real sense of curiosity to our experience – a willingness to be beginners - a willingness to do a regular practice like the body-scan and just seeing what happens if it’s done in the morning or in the evening, with legs flat or with knees bent, lying down or sitting – and just noticing the sensations, emotions thoughts and urges (maybe to give up as its sooo boring or frustrating!) as they come and go. Or Petal Breathing - how does it actually feel. moment ny moment, to move the fingers in gentle time with the breath, to combine breathing with these beautiful, small, physical actions? Why don't you try it, after reading this? There is a link at the bottom to guide you through. Then try it with your children so they (too) have a helpful little strategy when they are feeling anxious or upset.

Growing Confidence! After our initial reservations about (could we? should we?) my colleagues and I are now confident that teaching the 8-week mindfulness course online can not only be done, it can be done well. Learning, personal connection and trust are all possible in a Zoom group and we will be proving it as this course and the home practice develops. We are so happy to have this opportunity to work with and for RUH staff - a privilege,

especially in these times.

So, onwards …and upwards…Back in a bit ….

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