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Course feedback from one of our attendees

Anna Jenkins recently sent us this feedback about our Mindfulness for Everyday Course.

“A few months ago, I agreed to accompany my twenty year old daughter in attending one of the Valleys Steps’ six-week Mindfulness course. She hoped it would ease her anxiety and help her to relax more as she completed her third year at Uni. I (from my past experience of practicing meditation and a little knowledge of Mindfulness) was optimistic that such a course would indeed give her a few tools to improve her emotional health. However, I really wasn’t sure how I could fit it in at what was a really hectic time of the year for me. Though, knowing my daughter would not attend alone and also how beneficial it could be for her in particular, we decided to go for it. And, as luck would have it, the nearest course started the following week – so we figured it was meant to be!

 

When we arrived for the initial session, we were both really glad not to be asked to give a verbal account of why we were there, and we were very relieved to find out that we could go along each week and not be expected to speak about our experiences. This also meant there was much more time available to practice Mindfulness and to learn about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which we both agreed was an additional bonus.

 

Mindfulness and ACT are fascinating topics, and both my daughter and I closely related to many of the examples used by the course practitioners to illustrate the themes taught. The practitioners were very open about their personal experience of using mindfulness techniques in their everyday life; and both injected a lot of humour into their presentations, which made the material covered all the more enjoyable and memorable.

 

My daughter was really inspired by the six-week Mindfulness course and equally so by one of the practitioners, who is of a similar age to her.  She admired her openness and her confidence in delivering the course material at such a young age. As the course came to a close, my daughter was so convinced by what she’d learned from the course and impressed by the work of Valleys Steps that she declared (as soon as she finishes her degree) she would love to become involved in the work of the Charity, if possible.

 

So what did I get out of the course? I can honestly say that this short course has been life-changing for me. It inspired me to delve deeper into both ACT and Mindfulness. For many years, I promised myself that one day soon I’d begin taking better care of myself. Completing a further eight-week Mindfulness course with Valleys Steps (this time on my own) was the first step towards fulfilling that promise. Tears sting my eyes as I write this! I’m 52 years old, and I’ve known for many years about the numerous benefits of meditation and Mindfulness! So why did it take me so long to do something so simple I ask myself (as to take just a few hours out of my life to attend a course/put Mindfulness into practice daily)? I really can’t answer that question. However, what I do know now is that the pay-off of finally taking this small step is HUGE!

 

“Everything that happens to you is your teacher. The secret is to sit at the feet of your own life and be taught by it.” Mahatma Gandhi

 

Up ‘till now, I’d always been too busy to sit…… sit still that is. The Valleys Steps courses finally convinced me to do just that, and in doing so I’m beginning to learn a lot.

 

Simply resting in stillness/awareness each day is making me much more aware of myself, my thoughts and my feelings. It is teaching me to be much more gentle and kind towards myself; and to be more accepting of myself, exactly as I am. Crucially, this simple experience grounds me in the here and now, which I’ve grown to really appreciate/value.

 

My experience of Mindfulness in general has highlighted to me how much I’ve missed/I’m likely to miss if I continue to rush through my life at breakneck speed (as I used to do). So, I’ve begun to deliberately slow down in an attempt to notice what is happening within/around me in the present moment (e.g., to allow myself to weigh my options; to deliberate over my decisions; to try to concentrate my energy on one thing at a time). One of the big lessons I’m learning is to let go of trying to control everything in my life, and to make a conscious effort to go with the flow more. In truth, slowing down and letting go are both quite a challenge for me. However, when I succeed, I’m aware that I’m a much more relaxed person and I often get more done, ironically, which reminds me to do both more often.

 

In terms of my thoughts and feelings, Mindfulness is teaching me to be less inclined to hang out either in the past or in the future. Instead, I try as much as possible to intentionally focus my energy in the here and now, and on feeling grateful for all that I have. This makes me feel much lighter and happier, generally.

 

To sum up my experience, I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to attend two of the Valleys Steps courses and to have benefited in all of the ways I’ve described above. I’d just like to add how much I appreciate the Charity going the extra mile by offering follow-up help (via monthly meetings). I for one am truly grateful for this additional support. So, I thank you Valleys Steps for all of it, the courses and the follow up support! I’d like to end by thanking the individual staff who helped my daughter and me. Thank you Paul, Natasha, Bethan and Alison from the bottom of our hearts!”

We are really pleased that you found the course beneficial Anna and we appreciate the feedback.

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