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Mindfulness for Joy and Wellbeing
Would you like to experience more joy in your life?
If yes, what do you feel gets in the way?
Is it a taboo to just want to be happier and more joyful?
Like most people I was initially drawn to meditation because of suffering in my life. Sixteen years ago I was working as a newly qualified solicitor. It was a stressful job and I experienced acute anxiety. I learned how to meditate and it helped. I was able to stop and breathe. The inner pressure was more bearable. Over the years it completely changed my life for the better, to the point where I ultimately changed career in order to teach mindfulness full time and share the benefits with others.
In the beginning, if someone asked me why I meditate, I would probably emphasise how it helped me to “reduce stress” in my life. That felt like a socially acceptable thing to say. We are all interested in managing stress (particularly in the corporate world). There is something stoic about it. We endure stress because we are so busy. We manage it and we persevere. I would have been very hesitant to tell the same person how meditation made me more “joyful”. At the time, the word “joy” felt self-indulgent and dare I say, a bit “happy clappy” to me. It didn’t feel socially acceptable to say that I just wanted to be happy… that life sometimes felt a bit grim and grey and relentless and I needed a counterbalance.
I think that this attitude still prevails to a certain extent and it’s a pity. What is the point of life if not to experience moments of deep connection and meaning? The good news is that copious research has shown that joy, happiness and gratitude are states of mind that can be practiced and cultivated. Neuroscience has shown that our brains have a “negativity bias” - we are hardwired to notice and remember unpleasant experiences and disregard pleasant experiences. If we are aware and we have the right intention we can bring this into balance. We can be more objective.
Cultivating joy and wellbeing doesn’t mean that we look at life through rose tinted lenses. Without glossing over or ignoring the challenges of life which we are always faced with, we can discover that that joy is always available in the present moment if we want it. In fact, when we are able to nourish ourselves in this way, we are less likely to burn out and more able to skilfully respond to suffering in world. It’s not a selfish pursuit!
About the course:
Often we approach our practice with too much effort... striving to achieve something or resisting our experience in some way. So if you like the idea of not working too hard, you might like to come along! This course is designed to be practical and fun. It draws on the work of world-renowned neuroscientist Rick Hanson whose specialist area is the science of happiness and James Baraz, a leading expert on mindfulness and author of the book, Awakening Joy.
Many people find that the busyness of life robs them of the opportunity for a greater sense of enjoyment. Life then risks becoming more automatic, routine and dull. This course is underpinned by three principles:
1. An understanding that healthy activities support wholesome states of mind;
2. Learning to intentionally cultivate wholesome states of mind and to be fully present to them; and
3. Application of the insights of neuroscience which shows that joy, happiness and gratitude are states of mind that can be actively cultivated. Learning that whatever we pay attention to actually changes the structure of the neural pathways in our brain and with training we can incline the mind towards joy.
Over the six weeks we will explore a variety of different themes which will help to reorient our minds away from dissatisfaction and distraction and toward the contentment and delight that is abundantly available in our everyday lives. The course is suitable if you've practiced lots of meditation before or if you are completely new to it!
Barry is a certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher and yoga instructor. He has practiced meditation for over ten years and has trained as a mindfulness teacher with the Institute for Mindfulness Based Approaches. He has since completed further training in a range of other mindfulness-based interventions including Mindfulness Based Compassionate Living and Awakening Joy. He is a member of the Mindfulness Teachers Association of Ireland and is a registered member of Yoga Alliance UK & Ireland (Certified Experienced Teacher).
Barry worked for over ten years as a corporate lawyer and has significant experience delivering mindfulness training to organisations in the corporate sector. In 2017, he founded Mindfulness for Law (www.mindfulnessforlaw.ie) with the intention of bringing the benefits of mindfulness training to the legal profession. He has facilitated workshops and courses in many of the top Irish law firms.
In 2016, he co-founded Nature in Mind (natureinmind.ie), an educational organisation which aims to help people improve their health and well-being through mindfully connecting with the natural world.