What happens in a mindfulness course?

Different courses will each have their own structure, but you’re likely to find that your course:

  • lasts a fixed number of sessions, or across a specific time frame such as an afternoon or weekend
  • involves a mixture of meditation practices and daily mindfulness exercises – sometimes exercises may involve discussing things in pairs or small groups
  • involves you sharing your experiences of practicing mindfulness
  • you can usually contribute as much as you feel comfortable with
  • asks you to practice mindfulness meditations or apply mindfulness techniques in your daily activities between sessions

What should I do before learning mindfulness?

Before starting a mindfulness course or seeing a practitioner for a one-to-one session, you might want to think about the following things:

  • Your instructor’s qualifications. If you want to try a structured course, like MBCT or MBSR, it should be delivered by a qualified practitioner. Check that your instructor has attended training and has a relevant qualification.
  • Your mental health. It could be a good idea to let the instructor know about any mental health problems you experience, so they can be aware of how you’re feeling during the sessions.

“Sometimes it makes you turn towards things you would normally avoid. That can be challenging. But if you have an experienced mindfulness teacher they can help you to pace yourself.”

  • Things you might find difficult, like breathing exercises. Some people may find sitting for long periods of time and focusing on your breath uncomfortable. If this is the case for you, you could try shorter breathing meditations or explore different mindfulness practices.
  • Any costs involved. Check with the instructor if there is a cost for the course, and if there are any materials you are expected to buy, like audio recordings, books or comfortable clothing for meditation sessions.
  • Any homework you might have to do between sessions. Check with the instructor before you start, so you can allow enough time to do this.

See the section “Is mindfulness right for me?” for more information.

How can I find a course or practitioner?

You can find a mindfulness course or practitioner through:

  • Speak to your medical doctor about services in your area
  • Private psychologists
  • A local Buddhist centre. If you have a Buddhist centre near you they may run mindfulness meditation sessions or courses
  • Online courses or apps like Headspace let you learn mindfulness wherever suits you
  • Taster sessions or drop-in classes. You might find these are offered through your workplace

See “Useful contacts” at the end of the guide for details.

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