‘Stress reduction through Mindfulness’ workshop | Orthona Community | 5-8 May 2011

Quiet and simplicity, coupled with open-hearted and open-minded spirituality, make the Orthona Community in West Dorset a place where Quakers will feel very much at home.

Frank and I visited Orthona to attend this event, which was facilitated by Sue Howse, a local psychotherapist, and which was based on the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program developed by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn.

OthonaSeveral techniques were taught, such as ‘The Three Minute Breathing Space’, and ‘Monitoring Your Thoughts’ by asking: (1) Is this true? (2) Is this helpful or necessary? (3) Is this kind? Only with three ‘yeses’ will the thought be permitted to settle.

For me, the most benefit came from the meditation practice. There were four group meditation sessions a day. These were a mix of sitting, lying down, walking, guided and silent meditations. This was in addition to our private meditations and the afternoon no-talking period. All exquisitely peaceful and refreshing!

The morning chapel service was called ‘Seedtime’ – the idea being to plant seeds (intentions) for the day. It was very similar to a Quaker worship, with a short reading followed by silence.

Memories of the weekend include: going to sleep listening to the sound of the sea and waking up to the sound of the sea; sitting in the gazebo in the dark watching lightening over the ocean; walking on the beach in the sunshine; superb organic meals; kind and gentle people; and lots of joy and laughter. I would highly recommend a visit! Frank has been to Othona many times before – though not for about eight years until this visit. Emma has also been there, and has kindly left leaflets in Woking Friends’ meeting room.

13 May 2011

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