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Mindfulness Based Strengths Practice for Living

My interest and practice in mindfulness and meditation has evolved over the last 20 years from my own personal practice to further study in the area and now offering courses to others in this field. Part of my studies has including completing a Mindfulness Based Strengths Practice (MBSP) leaders course with Dr Ryan Niemiec, from the VIA Institute on Character, which combines the use of character strengths with mindfulness.

My interest in strengths first peaked many years ago when working as an early childhood teacher and seeing the benefits when working with children’s strengths and areas that they were interested in and came naturally for them. This seemed to assist their development in many areas simultaneously, including the important developmental areas of social and emotional development. Trying to get children to work on areas that were ‘weaknesses’ was like pushing a very heavy, stubborn boulder uphill, focusing on strengths had more immediate and further reaching benefits. More recently I have had the opportunity to study and explore my own strengths in more detail while studying a Diploma in Positive Psychology and was fascinated by some of the research findings and understood further why those children who I had worked with developed more freely and naturally when working in area of interest and strength and were more productive, and demonstrated more social and emotional wellbeing. Some of the research findings on strengths demonstrate that individuals who use their strengths have been found to:

  • report greater vitality and subjective and psychological wellbeing (Govindji & Linley, 2007; Linley, Nielsen, Wood, Gillett, & Biswas-Diener, 2010);

  • report more progress towards their goals (Linley et al., 2010); and

  • experience enhanced resilience after stressful events (Peterson & Seligman, 2003).

When we think of these in relation to individuals of all ages we can all benefit from these outcomes. When we use our strengths, we feel the most authentic version of ourselves, which is challenging to do in 2018 with so many pressures and influences telling us who we should be, what we should look like, what we should buy, through social media and advertising (these two are becoming harder to separate also as they are sometimes the same thing!). The VIA Institute character strengths are described as capacities for thinking, feeling and behaving, or positive personality traits which we all possess, but display and use differently to different degrees. Character strengths, such as self-regulation, perseverance and love can be used to overcome common obstacles that emerge in life and when developing mindfulness and serve to “supercharge” both mindful living and formal mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is defined as bringing our attention to the present moment, with awareness, curiosity and acceptance.

I am excited to be able to share MBSP in Young NSW this term. The 8-week course includes a variety of experiential learning and practices to apply in your personal and professional life to improve our self-awareness, resilience and wellbeing.

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