There are two routes to mastery of a subject.
One to study hard over many years, spend a lot of time and money getting to grips with all the theory that has emerged from available research, gain experience, make mistakes, discard those mistakes and try something different, read and write around your subject, immerse yourself in your subject and give up precious free time to pursue your subject with laser-like focus.
The other is to find someone who has done all of that and is prepared to share what they have learned; someone who will not just tell you what to do, but show you how to do it …..in great detail.
I took the first road to mastery and I have no regrets.
But, having done all of that, why should you have to do it as well? I had an article written about me in the Human Givens journal many years ago. It started ‘Frances Masters trod a rocky road into counselling…‘ It’s true, I had to search out further high quality training when I realised that much of I was learning in my counselling training was theory that was years out of date.
This is why the training programmes I have subsequently designed have the aim of fast tracking learners, accelerating their progress and increasing a repertoire of therapeutic skills that actually work. The result is something that looks simple…but isn’t.
Underneath the Fusion Model; the manuals, the client hand outs, the check lists and the scripts is a raft of theory and years of experience, so that my ‘rocky road’ doesn’t have to be yours.
As an example, I have reproduced here part of one of the trainers’ scripts from the Fusion 8 week Mindfulness Based Mind Management programme with an author’s narrative of rationale and links to underpinning theory.
As ever, I hope it helps….
Key: Trainers’ notes in black
Spoken meditation in blue italics
Author’s narrative in red italics
Session 6 Script 12: Guided Mountain Meditation
: Delegates are seated in the usual way.
I always suggest meditators stay upright and seated rather than lying down, unless there are real issues with pain. Through experience, I know that when clients are sleep deprived, they can easily tip over into a sleeping state. If that happens, you have lost them. They may be getting the sleep they crave, but they are certainly not meditating, being mindful, or learning how to relax very deeply at will.
Ideally, in guided practice, the accessed brain state is somewhere between waking and sleeping, when Alpha and Theta waves are present. Alpha is connected to deep relaxation and Theta, to accelerated learning and insight, which explains how many people report having ‘a light bulb moment’ after guided visualisation or meditation, especially when therapeutic stories are used as part of the practice.
Deep relaxation will only occur for mammals who feel safe in the environment in which they find themselves. This connects to our recent understanding of the important role of the ventral vagal system for self soothing. Dr Steve Porges’ work on Polyvagal Theory informs us that this is a more recently evolved branch of our autonomic nervous system which developed as our consciousness emerged in the third layer of the human brain, the neo cortex.
With this evolution, the brain could, for the first time, tell the body to calm down. In guided work, this system can be accessed via the ear. The calm and soothing voice of the practitioner encourages a feeling of safety, much as the voice of a parent calms and soothes a baby or child. With the fight or flight reflex stood down, the emotional right hemisphere of the brain allows incoming information to travel over the corpus callosum into the left hemisphere where rational thought and logic take shape. Within milliseconds, the information reconnects with the right hemisphere for context, insight and wisdom in an area of the brain just above the right ear, the anterior superior temporal gyrus.
This is also a good explanation (together with malleability of memory) for how and why a technique like Rewind can resolve PTSD symptoms in just one session.
The induction is eyes open, soft-focused or eyes closed. Decide on length of time for this practice. Use a bell to signal the start and end if you wish.
A bell can be a useful anchor for mindfulness or any meditation. In true Pavlovian style, and classical conditioning at its best, we can learn to associate one thing with another. Once we link the sound of a bell with the start and end of practice, an altered state can be accessed more freely.
Many people think you have to close your eyes fully to be mindful to disconnect from the distractions of the environment. My work with Buddhist Lama Shri Sadhu Dharmavira confirmed this is not the norm in Buddhist practice, where meditators are encouraged to soft focus to a point on the floor about 2 or 3 feet ahead. Sadhu also encourages meditators to stay upright and seated and tells the story of how, on one of his trips to India, the monks were complaining about how many of their group were falling asleep. ‘Stop them from lying down then’ said Sadhu, making an obvious connection!
As ever, allow plenty of silence for internal processing.
Many leaders of mindfulness or visualisation groups make a common mistake. They speak too much and distract meditators from what is happening internally. Generally this is through nervousness and the natural inclination we all have to fill the gap between the words.
However, allowing enough space is critical. It is where real change occurs. Jewish psychiatrist and author of the book Mans’ Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl, said ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom’.
I felt that statement to be so significant; I used it as the introduction to the Fusion 8 week Mindfulness Based Mind Management programme.
The neuroscience now proves what Frankl and the Buddhist monks had discovered through observation ; we can choose our response, which led me, through my client work to evolve the formulae E+R=O1 and E+CR=O2*, where E is the trigger event, R is Reaction, O is Outcome and C is Chosen.
We can sometimes feel fearful, angry or even paralysed by emotional or physical pain. The Mountain Meditation can help us cultivate stillness and calm and reconnect us with our inner resources, our strength and our stability.
The Mountain Meditation script contains embedded suggestions in bold. These connect with the content of the Fusion 8 week MBMM programme, the STOP System, accessing of the Observing Self, the basic tenet of mindfulness practice as outlined by Kabat-Zinn and the 7 pillars of practice which, on week 6 of the MBMM course is ‘non striving.’
It also includes a therapeutic story to underpin the accessing of innate resources to get our needs met (a human givens concept that emerged from Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers’ work on the actualiszing tendency)
When you are ready
Either close the eyes, or half close the eyes, soft focusing on an area of floor about two feet in front of you
Begin to notice the breath, saying silently ‘I am breathing in, I am breathing out.’
This is the fastest way to shift focus.
We cannot think two thoughts at once. Drowning our internal dialogue with a self statement begins the disconnection from automatic thoughts. When you let go of the words and replace with counting, the same affect results. Counting the breath reinforces the breathing technique which is part of the Fusion STOP System™ used to quickly break subconscious patterns of behaviour such as panic attacks, anger attacks, negative thinking or addiction.
As you follow the breath you might notice warmth or coolness as it passes over the upper lip
After a little while, the out breath may naturally extend as you begin to relax
Observing the breath as it moves down the diaphragm and then gently back up again…
You can access the full script here
The Rewind Technique, Mindfulness Based Mind Management (advanced MBSR), solution focus, guided visualisation, resolving addiction, epigenetics, mapping the connectome, polyvagal theory, the reticular activating system (RAS), secondary gain, trauma resolution, coaching for kids, treating depression, worrying well, working SMART, therapeutic stories, insight, psycho education, suicide prevention, affirmations, positive mental rehearsal, imagery, dissociation, goal setting, new paradigms, reframes, fast track learning, perception shifting, self actualisation, positive psychology, reframing, metaphor, personal empowerment, motivational thinking, lifting depression, the happiness principle, resilience and resourcefulness, human flourishing, anchoring, rewiring your brain, the STOP System, the SAFE SPACE happiness recipe, holistic coaching and working on the continuum of wellbeing plus many other professional theories, tools and techniques underpin the content of the fast paced, fast track, Fusion training programmes.