Welcome, I’m Chris Barker
Shrinking the stress and growing the happiness in your life
Adult Mindfulness Courses
Stuck in a rut, a resignation that life will never change? Mindfulness shines a light on our ingrained beliefs and habits and provides tools to unlock an alternative way of being.
Mindfulness for Cancer
NHS treats the physical, but what about the emotional and mental well-being? This is the role of Mindfulness for patients and carers.
Mindfulness for Teachers
With the number of interactions per day second only to Air-Traffic Control, no wonder teachers get stressed! Mindfulness helps restore balance.
Mindfulness is used by many leading global companies, including Google, Apple and Ford. It can help your business, big or small!
Mindfulness for Teenagers
Transitions in life, 24/7 social media, family, friends, fear of missing out, school – all can be huge stressors. Mindfulness can provide an anchor in changing times.
Find Your Inner Gourmet - Mindful Eating
Exploring the ‘why’ of eating, more than the ‘what’. This is an alternative approach to traditional dieting, working gently with the underlying causes to create lasting change.
Mindfulness for Performance
Stars of sport, stage, public speaking as well as those engaged in creativity in the arts, design and engineering can all grow in performance with Mindfulness .
1 to 1 Sessions
Tailored to your personal needs and intentions, at a time and place to suit you, 1 to 1 sessions can make Mindfulness accessible.
What is Mindfulness and how does it work?
Mindfulness is an experience, rather than a concept, so there is no point in me giving you an academic definition. I describe it like finding the eye of the storm, when everything around you is swirling intensely, but you have a space where it is calm. You know that sooner or later, you will be re-immersed in the wind and rain that can be life sometimes, but for this moment you can stand back and observe it. This allows you a breathing space to make skillful choices of what to do next as you have a clearer perspective of what is happening around you.
1. What do you do on a mindfulness course?
A series of attention-based practices such as noticing the breath, scanning attention along the body, becoming aware of sounds and thoughts. There is also discussion following each of these practices, which people often say brings great personal insight to unhelpful habits and routines.
2. Isn’t it just Buddhism in disguise?
Contemporary day mindfulness is secular, no religion involved. Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote the contemporary mindfulness programme (MBSR) in 1979 after his travels in the far east, where he experienced Buddhism. He specifically designed contemporary mindfulness to be free of religion, so it could be used in westernised institutions such as hospitals and schools, where no religious bias would be tolerated. The courses I lead are all non-religious and non-Buddhist.
3. I can’t see myself meditating or doing that yoga stuff!
Neither could I! Some people call it meditation, others call it practice. Basically, you sit still in a chair, on cushions if you prefer, sometimes even lying down. You have a focus like the breath and simply observe it, whilst following my guidance. There are some mindful movement exercises, a few of these are like basic yoga moves. They are easy to access and require no specific fitness. These can be adapted to your physical condition, so everybody can take part.
4. But I am really busy, I won’t be able to fit it in, I have enough to do already!
This is the most common statement I hear, you are not alone! When I came to mindfulness in 2012 I was ferociously busy, but that is exactly why I came. I thought, I cannot carry on like this, there must be more to life. You are the most important person in your life, you need to give a bit of time back to yourself. This is counter-intuitive to how we are brought up, but if you are happy and well, you will bring positivity to every aspect of your life. If you are stressed, burnt-out or fed up, you will bring the opposite to your life, including to your loved ones. A bit like the oxygen mask principle on an aeroplane, you need to look after yourself first, so you can help others.
5. It’s just a fad, here today, gone tomorrow.
The NHS don’t think so! Mindfulness was approved as far back as 2004 by NICE to treat patients with recurrent depression and other uses such as managing chronic pain are being carefully considered. We know how much scrutiny NICE brings to treatments before approving them. Contemporary mindfulness has been increasingly globally accepted since 1979 and you can now even study it at post-graduate level at Oxford, Cambridge or like me at Exeter University. It is now considered a science.
To remain with the weather analogy, when it is sunny and warm, Mindfulness allows us to pause and really soak up the sun’s rays, enjoying the warmth that it brings to us. Too often in life we skim over what is enjoyable, not really bathing ourselves in it, but instead thinking about what we must do next. We can often find that intrusive memories triggered by, say, a song or even a smell mean we re-live the past over and over. Alternatively, sometimes we pre-live the future by endlessly planning or worrying about it; Mindfulness can break this cycle. It allows us to be more present in the here and now, a powerful antidote to constant ‘doing mode’ that we can subconsciously slip into, always on the go, no time to rest, always striving for the next chapter in life.
I have been practising Mindfulness since 2012 and have found it has brought a calmer and more open perspective to my life. Having taught in schools for 20 years, I initially introduced mindfulness to teachers and pupils using my training from the Mindfulness in Schools Project and TeenYoga.
My recently completed two years of post-graduate studies with The University of Exeter Clinical Psychology Department has enabled me to expand my work to adult populations impacted by anxiety, depression, stress and other conditions. I currently specialise in supporting those living with and beyond cancer and other life-threating conditions.