Mindful Resilience Enhancement (www.mre.re) & Integrated Mindfulness
We are being mindfully aware when we are choosing to notice, with genuine interest, whatever is going on right now. Mindful awareness enhances resilience; it is inherently de-stressing and it helps us respond more creatively and resourcefully to the situations we struggle with or find overwhelming. Importantly, mindful awareness also intensifies the enjoyment we get from the good times in life.
Mindful Resilience Enhancement (MRE) helps people cultivate mindful awareness through a set of simple and accessible mindfulness practices. MRE is a clearly defined mindfulness-based approach (MBA) designed as a brief intervention to be used in 1-2-1 work with clients or with groups.
MRE aims to meet the needs of those who want to use mindfulness-based approaches to enhance their resilience in the context of personal development, health education and wellbeing. It is also designed as an adjunct for professionals to offer to clients in the context of their established professional practice, e.g. psychotherapy, health and social care, education or a broad range of other professions with an established code of ethical practice. The practices learnt through MRE Teacher-Training (MRE-TT) can be used as single interventions or can form the experiential core of the curriculum of a mindfulness course.
For those wishing to build on their experience of teaching MRE there is the opportunity for further training as an Integrated Mindfulness teacher. Integrated Mindfulness incorporates the principles of MRE but aims to deepen the experience of personal practice, understanding and expertise in teaching bespoke mindfulness-based approaches.
The overarching aim of MRE is that it seeks to enable people to approach their daily experience of life more mindfully and with more kindness.
MRE frames the cultivation of mindful awareness as a value. We have many opportunities in our daily experience of life when we can choose to move towards being more mindfully aware and the motivation to do so can, in time, become important to us in its own right. In this way being mindfully aware becomes more about how we are (a core value) than about something that we do for a particular end (a goal).
MRE courses encourage regular reconnection to the value of being mindful by embedding many opportunities for tending towards mindful awareness into the routines of daily life. To fit with this, the approaches used in MRE are purposefully brief, but have the capacity to develop into longer periods of practice should the wish to do so arise.
While being mindful in daily life may, for some people, be supported by the establishment of a regular daily practice of longer periods of what we call ‘Planned Practice’ in MRE (but is often called ‘formal’ mindfulness practice), it is, quite explicitly, not the aim of MRE to promote this as an outcome of a MRE course. Rather than a commitment to a duration or the regularity of practice, MRE aims to foster a commitment to approaching daily life mindfully – reflecting the framing of mindful awareness as a value rather than as a goal.
If the heart of being mindful is as a way to be, rather than a practice that we do, then it is important to ensure that the ‘doing’ elements of a mindfulness curriculum, i.e. the practices, do not become place-holders for the way of ‘being’ that is being cultivated. It is profoundly validating to live according to a value of being mindful, a value that can be reaffirmed through mindful moments in the midst of a hectic situation. There is a risk of enduring invalidation if a goal of daily longer practice is taken as the indicator of being a mindful person, especially if this goal is not achieved, leading to a persistent and recurrent sense of failure each day a longer practice is not undertaken.
It is these perspectives that underpin our rationale that the focus of MRE is primarily on weaving mindfulness into the routines of daily life.
It is also a key underpinning principle of MRE to match the intervention to the needs and capacities of the individual client or group. This is mirrored by the approach, fundamental to MRE, of teaching mindfulness in small incremental steps, starting with very brief and very simple approaches, well within the capacity of each individual to practice with ease. The pace is set by each individual choosing the practices offered by MRE that fit with their needs.
It is by meeting individual needs and by fostering a learning process of small incremental steps that a context open to and congruent with the cultivation of self-compassion becomes more readily available. We consider that there is a fundamental incongruity between the cultivation of authentic self-compassion and the too rapid introduction of longer or more intense mindfulness practices.
These perspectives underlie the focus of MRE on using simple and short mindfulness practices, particularly in the initial stages of learning mindfulness practice.
MRE seeks to explicitly teach ways of enhancing self-compassion just as it seeks to explicitly teach ways to enhance mindful awareness. The centrality of the cultivation of self-compassion to MRE is supported by research that indicates that when self-compassion is explicitly cultivated alongside mindfulness, the enhancement to well-being and the development of mindful awareness are greater and longer-lasting.
The default narrative framework for the psycho-educative aspect of MRE is primarily neuro-psychological and draws particularly on the work of Paul Gilbert, Stephen Porges, Peter Levine, Jan Pansepp and Robert Maurer. This neuro-psychological narrative is relatively culture-neutral and, with appropriate attention to language use, generally easily understood and it promotes a self-forgiving attitude. This default narrative is then modified to meet the specific needs of the individual or group, with the expectation that each group will co-create a unique way of experiencing mindfulness together and constructing meanings around this shared experience.
Mindful awareness and self-compassion are considered within MRE to be innate human capacities that can emerge spontaneously in many contexts though we usually develop these capacities more easily in the safe and familiar contexts that are perceived as pleasant or comfortable. It is the extension of this innate capacity mindful awareness towards neutral or unpleasant experience that typically requires developmental learning in a supportive social context to be more fully realised. To reflect the culture-neutral nature of mindful awareness the language used by MRE to support experiential learning is purposefully low-key and as non-technical as possible.
Overall, a guiding principle throughout MRE is to ask ‘Is this kind?’ with respect to any intervention and, if necessary, to adapt whatever approach is being taken towards greater kindness both to the MRE teacher and to those they are teaching.
Since 2009, Integrated Mindfulness has been offering mindfulness teacher training to professionals. The teacher training focuses on the delivery of a flexible mindfulness curriculum that can be adapted to meet the needs of individuals or groups.
Mindful Resilience Enhancement: Teacher-Training Overview
Integrated Mindfulness is the organisation that developed MRE and is currently the main training organisation offering MRE, although other organisations are now also starting to deliver MRE teacher-training programmes.
Integrated Mindfulness is a member organisation of the UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teacher Training Organisations. The members of this organisation have agreed on a set of good practice guidelines (GPGs) both for ensuring that mindfulness teachers have been trained to a sufficient standard for safe and ethical practice and for ensuring that mindfulness teachers maintain these standards after training through ongoing continual professional development. These guidelines are published on the Network’s website: www.mindfulnessteachersuk.org.uk.
The MRE teacher training is offered in 2 levels, with each level comprising a total of 6 days of training and requiring at least a year of supervised mindfulness teaching practice before the competency certificate associated with that level can be received, assuming all the other requirements for evidence of competency at that level have been met.
The Level 2 competency certification in MRE requires trainees to provide evidence that they meet all the requirements of the GPGs, whereas Level 1 competency certification requires evidence that trainees are working towards the certain requirements of the GPGs. The Level 2 competency certification process will include reflection on videos of your teaching with your supervisor and a process of assessment. Videoed sessions and/or observed teaching are involved in both the supervision and assessment processes.
The structure of the teacher training reflects 2 phases in the integration and embodiment of mindfulness and self-compassion in any person’s life.
The first phase is learning to mindfully be more at ease alongside difficulty with kindness and is the focus of the Level 1 teacher-training. Mindfulness in daily life is emphasised as the core practice in the MRE Level 1 curriculum, with short mindfulness practices that incrementally build to longer practice periods being progressively woven into daily routines supported by self-compassion practices. It is important to note that the Level 1 Competency Certificate only applies to teaching brief mindfulness and soothing practices that support being at ease alongside difficulty.
The second phase is to approach and explore difficulty with kindness and curiosity and is the focus of the Level 2 teacher-training. Building on the Level 1 curriculum, the Level 2 MRE teacher-training curriculum has a greater emphasis on cultivating self-compassion and on more sustained periods of mindfulness practice. These support the approaches that encourage turning towards difficulty.
The first 2 phases are reflected in the themes of weeks 1-4 and 5-8 respectively in typical 8 week mindfulness teacher training programmes such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and the Level 1 and 2 MRE curricula follow these themes, though initially with shorter and simpler practices at Level 1.
In keeping with this, the duration of individual practices taught to clients at Level 1 are short; usually around 5 minutes and no longer than 10 minutes. It during Level 2 training that teaching longer practices are explored.
The boundary of the Level 1 Competency Certificate will have been exceeded if practices longer than 10 minutes or practices that seek to approach or explore difficulty are being taught. Similarly, a Level 1 MRE course to the public would not include practices that approach or explore difficulty or practices longer than 10 minutes.
Overarching principles through all 2 Levels are:
- The teacher role is to embody kindly connected mindful presence to facilitate the co-creation of a safe learning environment with participants that, in turn, supports the experience and cultivation of mindful awareness.
- The Core Practice is mindfulness and self-compassion woven into the fabric of daily life. Planned Practices are framed as being supportive of (but secondary to) this Core Practice.
- Incremental change in small steps at the individual’s pace is considered essential for both safety and lasting change. Thus, brief practices form the foundation for longer practices.
- Mindfulness practice during moments of low intensity infused with qualities of ease, effortlessness and kindness are the guiding principles for ongoing Resilience Building mindfulness practices. This is in contrast to Soothing Practices which are often practiced in moments of high intensity where ease and kindness may be an aspiration but may seem very inaccessible .
- The curriculum of a course is adapted and continues to evolve session by session to meet the needs of the individual or group.
For a detailed discussion of the requirements for the MRE and Integrated Mindfulness entry requirements and Competency Certification processes please download this document.
All materials here are © Integrated Mindfulness 2016 for editorial control during initial development. It is intended later to move to a Creative Commons / Open Source model to foster diversification and collective development.