In session 1 we teach about mindfulness and self regulation through the concept of the “window of tolerance”. Mindfulness does not mean reaching a calm and peaceful state, even though it is nice when that happens. Mindfulness is the capacity to observe our present moment experience, be it pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. We can be in mindful state only when we are within our window of tolerance, with the ability to observe our thoughts, feelings and emotions as they are in the moment, including the difficult ones. Over time, the ability to stay in present with our feelings becomes easier and we can learn to ride the waves of our emotions, rather than get stuck in reactivity and survival mode.
In session 2 we build upon the mindfulness practices of session 1 by introducing a 10-minute breath practice. Paying attention to the physical sensations of breath and the rhythm of the breath helps to focus the mind and increase awareness of the body, creating an overall sense of calm that the brain remembers and learns.
Learning about how the brain functions can be incredibly helpful for those suffering from mental health problems. MAST provides basic psychoeducation on the three main parts of the brain and how they function under stress and, more optimally, in a mindful, present state.
By session 3 we can now build even more resilience by learning to sit with emotions in the meditation practice mindfulness of emotions. Up until now the priority it to learn to stabilize the mind by being present with the body and the breath. The next step is to turn awareness to the experience of emotions as they arise and feel them in the body.
Session 4 wraps up the MAST program by giving people an opportunity
to evaluate the benefits of their mindfulness practice over the past 3
weeks. The theme of session 4 is decreasing stress and developing an
action plan for self care. We look at how to maintain a good balance of
every day activities by decreasing causes of stress and increasing
resources for self care. Most important is that we develop an attitude
of compassion and kindness towards ourselves in developing this action