'Finding Peace in a Frantic World' | The 8-Week Course for Adults
This 8-week course follows the best-selling practical guide to mindfulness by Professor Mark Williams and Danny Penman, chapter by chapter. Based on MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy) but with shorter weekly sessions and home practice, the programme is supported by the book and accompanying audio CD and is designed to help busy people breathe mindfulness into their lives.
‘‘A coherent, compelling and common-sensical 8-week programme for anyone caring about his or her own health and sanity, especially in this increasingly fast-paced and, as they refer to it, frantic world.’’ - Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Who is it for?
The ‘Finding Peace in a Frantic World' Course (PFW) has been developed to teach simple and powerful mindfulness practices to people aspiring to break the cycle of stress, unhappiness, anxiety and mental exhaustion. It promotes taking control of one’s well-being and happiness in a practical and proven way and re-discovering an authentic enjoyment of one’s life.
Designed specifically to help ordinary people who are struggling to keep up with the demands of the modern world. As Mark Williams writes in the book, this will help you ‘understand where true happiness, peace and contentment can be found’ and teaches you ‘how to free yourself progressively from anxiety, stress, unhappiness and exhaustion’.
The book itself is based on MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy). MBCT has been clinically proven to be at least as effective as drugs for depression and it is recommended by the UK's National Institute of Clinical Excellence - in other words, it works.
PFW draws on the proven and effective curriculum of MBCT while making it accessible to all of us and of practical use in our everyday lives by developing skills for supporting top performance and improved mental health.
Newly developed by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, it has become an extremely popular programme for Oxford University students wanting to equip themselves with the tools to cope with stress, perform at their best and enjoy student life fully.
This programme works in a wide variety of contexts. For many organisations the Peace in a Frantic World course is the programme they choose to offer their staff, students or teams because it is a highly credible course whilst also being accessible in terms of the time commitment it requires of participants.
I deliver PFW as an open course for members of the public, for organisations and teams and also for student groups at universities. For school teachers I recommend the .b Foundations course which is designed specifically for schools.
How does it work?
‘‘Mindfulness allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they tip you into a downward spiral. It begins the process of putting you back in control of your life.’’ Professor Mark Williams
A typical mindfulness exercise "consists of focusing your full attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Focusing on each breath in this way allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and little by little let go of struggling with them.
You come to realise that thoughts come and go of their own accord, that you are not your thoughts. You can watch as they appear in your mind, seemingly from thin air, and watch again as they disappear like a soap bubble bursting. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient. They come and go and ultimately you have a choice about whether to act on them or not.
Over time, mindfulness brings about long-term changes in mood and levels of happiness and wellbeing. Scientific studies have shown that mindfulness not only prevents depression but that it also positively affects the brain patterns underlying day-to-day anxiety, stress, depression and irritability so that when they arise, they dissolve away again more easily."
The course structure is strongly evidence-based, arising from the successful curricula of the 8-week MBSR and MBCT courses.
- 8-week course
- Weekly sessions of 75 mins
- Daily Home Practices of 20 mins, to complete between sessions (supported by the audio CD that accompanies the book*)
- ‘Habit Releasers’: encourage you to break some of the unconscious habits of thinking and behaving that stop you from living life to the full
*Participants on this course purchase their own copy of the book prior to the first session.
Having sold more than 250,000 copies globally, it is estimated that 1 in every 8 UK households now owns a copy of 'Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World'. The co-author, Professor Mark Williams, is one of the world’s leading researchers in mindfulness and co-founder of MBCT (clinically proven to help prevent relapse into depression). He is also the founder of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre at Oxford University and the Centre for Mindfulness Research Practice at Bangor University, two of the world’s top mindfulness research and teaching institutes.
The book manages to be very practical and common-sense while at the same time providing a thorough theoretical framework for better understanding our mind and the mechanisms of mental health. It is a great starting point for learning mindfulness and also a book to keep coming back to, as I do, time and again.
‘‘A very practical and pragmatic guide to mindfulness and its cultivation.’’ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Purchase the book here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/books/dp/074995308X
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I just read the book and follow the CD myself rather than joining a course?
A: Of course, this is entirely down to your own preference. People can get a huge amount of value from simply following the programme in the book by themselves.
Others may find that they develop a much richer and practical understanding of mindfulness by committing themselves to a structured process of learning that supports them from the beginning of the course to the end – and beyond.
Consider the following aspects of learning in a teacher-led group environment and whether these would help you to maximise the value of the course:
- Guidance from a trained instructor who is experienced in coaching beginners, ensuring correct technique and able to answer any burning questions you may have, helping you set firm foundations in your practice and supporting you through any challenges you experience along the way.
- Motivation and sustained momentum – Attending weekly sessions helps to sustain your focus on the programme and stick to it.
- A formal commitment – Making the most of a mindfulness course is all about making a commitment to yourself to follow the process through from start to finish. For many of us this commitment to be disciplined and stick to it comes a lot easier when we have a formal arrangement to attend a group every week.
- Learning with and from other people – One thing that surprises most people who attend a course is how powerful it is to learn mindfulness alongside other people. Hearing others speak of the stress arising from common problems (busy and uncontrolled thoughts, the strain of personal or professional commitments, the demands of a world requiring us to be constantly switched-on) helps us recognise the common burdens of human existence and pressures we all share. This can lighten the sense of being alone and alienated in the problems we face and help us shift toward a healthier perspective in which we can learn, even laugh, and let go of certain things. The mutual support of a group environment can be more inspiring and influential to your learning than ‘going it alone’.
- Are you prone to ‘shelf-help’? – Many of us are guilty of starting an exciting new personal development plan and, with the very best of intentions, find our motivation soon fizzles. That self-help book ends up back on the shelf and the opportunity is put on hold. Motivation to begin is essential - but - consistency and commitment is critical to making meaningful change. We have to be honest with ourselves and ask ‘what are the best conditions for me to make progress?’ Often having the support and structure of a course removes obstacles and frees you up to direct your energy into learning and moving forward.
Q: How is the ‘Finding Peace in a Frantic World' course different from MBSR or MBCT courses?
The Peace in a Frantic World Course contains shorter weekly sessions (75 mins) than MBCT/MBSR (2-2.5 hours) and shorter daily home practices (about 20 mins per day, 6 days a week - compared to 45 mins per day, 6 days a week).
Many people interested in learning mindfulness are put off by the time commitment required for MBSR/MBCT and find the PFW option a more realistic prospect for them personally.
There are many overlaps with MBCT and MBSR but there are important distinctions too. Whereas the MBCT course is aimed at supporting people with depression in more clinical settings, the PFW course is focused on providing simple, effective and powerful support for managing more day-to-day anxiety, stress and mental and physical exhaustion. That is not to say that most people would not find benefit from the MBCT course or that individuals with clinical depression would not find value in the PFW course – rather, they have each been designed with distinct purposes and groups in mind.