This year presented us with many more than the usual number of reasons to be anxious, stressed, sad, or depressed. Which is why now more than ever we need to remember our common humanity, and seek out opportunities to come together for support and to find peace. There has never been a better time to practice mindfulness. Remember, mindfulness and meditation practices have been helping people cope with chaos and uncertainty for thousands of years!

We kick off the New Year with an Introduction to Mindfulness, Saturday, January 9. In this online workshop, Rebecca Stanwyck will explain what mindfulness is, what it is not, and provide an opportunity to sample a variety of simple mindfulness practices. Participants will learn how mindfulness meditation practices have been used to help improve focus and concentration, relieve anxiety and chronic pain, treat stress and stress-related illness, and prevent relapses in addiction and depression. If you’re curious about how mindfulness meditation could help you, this is a great place to start!

On Tuesday, January 12, the Keeping Mindful drop-in meditation group will meet online, as it does every month on the second Tuesday. This group originally formed as an “alumni” group for people who have taken a mindfulness class with Rebecca, however any adult looking for a group to practice mindfulness meditation with is welcome. Each class will include a 20 – 30 minute guided meditation practice, a short presentation on a topic related to mindfulness, and group discussion about applying mindfulness to daily life.

On Wednesday, January 20, the first Mindfulness for Beginners class will start. This is a 4-week online class where you can learn how to apply mindfulness for the specific issues in your life. Participants will learn breathing techniques, exercises designed to transform habitual ways of thinking about and reacting to stress, and a variety of simple and brief mindfulness practices that can be readily incorporated into daily life. Participants are encouraged to do home practice between classes, for while mindfulness and meditation are not difficult to do, like most things worth learning, they require consistent practice for mastery. (This class will be repeated, from 2/24 – 3/17/21.)

And the next Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy course begins January 28. This is a small group, limited to 8 adults who will meet online for 8 weeks (1/28 through 3/18/21). MBCT teaches people how to prevent mild states of depression and anxiety from spiraling out of control. It has been proven to be as effective as medication (without the side effects) in preventing relapses of depression, and in relieving the severity of symptoms in anxiety disorders or bipolar disorder. After just 8 weeks of MBCT, participants’ brain function and mood regulation improve in ways which allow them to respond more effectively to distressing situations, emotions and thoughts. We follow a set curriculum, which is scientifically validated and evidence-based, and taught in a secular way, yet grounded in ancient Buddhist philosophy. Participants will be expected to do home practice between sessions. (This course has 2 sections, both on Thursdays, and has been approved for CE credit for psychologists, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and nurses.)

For more information or to register for any of these classes or groups, please visit the Mindfulness East Bay Events Calendar.

Note from Rebecca: Additional classes and groups will be offered in the spring, including an 8-week Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention course for people in recovery from addiction. And if you don’t see the class or group you’re looking for, please contact me – I may already have a list of people interested in that class, or it may inspire me to start a new one. As always, thanks for reading, and may you be safe, healthy, and find peace in these challenging times!