Mindfulness Based Vitality and Ageing –
Are you interested in taking part in new course and study?

Do you want to create a good life for yourself beyond 60? Do you want to improve your resilience and learn coping strategies for the challenges that comes with growing older? Here is your opportunity to do so for free and online in the safety of your own home with a small group of other seniors from around the world. In cooperation with Leyden Academy and as a part of a Master of Vitality and Ageing at Leiden University, the co-founder of Thriving Life, Berit Lewis, is creating, teaching and researching a new online 8-weeks course; Mindfulness Based Vitality and Ageing (MBVA). 

About the course

The MBVA course will be based on the standard Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) as it is the gold standard Mindfulness course. It is thoroughly evidence based.The current study, however, is spurred by the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is causing great concern for the mental health of both young and elderly people. In order to teach mindfulness safely during the pandemic, we will offer it digitally and see it as an  opportunity for investigating ways to deliver more easily accessible mindfulness-based interventions for elderly people who for geographically, mental or physical reasons might be hindered or reluctant to join courses offered in in-person settings. Previous studies carried out into internet-based mindfulness programs have been positive.

Like the MBSR, the MBVA will stretch over 8 weeks, however the sessions will be 90 min long except for session 7, which will be 4 hours long. The sessions will take place online via Zoom in a group of 8-12 participants and will be a mix of interactive teaching, guided mindfulness practices and reflections.  Home practice will also play an important role. Mindfulness is an experiential practice as intellectually reading or learning about it will not offer the full understanding and benefits. Participants are therefore expected to commit 20-40 minutes of practice per day during the 8 weeks. To support the home practice, the participants will be given meditations as audio or video files and there will also be scheduled a weekly live guided practice online between the sessions. The contents of the sessions will be similar to what is taught in a MBSR, however it will be specifically angled towards people above 60. The guided practices will also be more oriented towards gentle movements, in which we will use our bodies as an anchor to the present moment and explore how to approach our physical sensations, emotions and thoughts with curiosity, friendliness and acceptance. Read more about mindfulness here

The course is expected to start Wednesday the 17th of March at 10-11.30 Dutch time and to continue every Wednesday at the same time for 8 weeks. There will be a break for Easter Break and the last session with be on the 12th of May. Session 7 on the 5th of May will be 4 hours long from 10-14 and will be centred around the theme of self-compassion. Part of this session will be silent, which means the participants will be taking part in various guided meditations without taking to each other.

Course outline:

Week 1 Introduction to mindfulness, vitality and ageing
Week 2 Befriending my body
Week 3 From reacting to responding
Week 4 Dealing with thoughts
Week 5 Dealing with chronic illness, pain and difficult emotions
Week 6 What is Vitality and what is important for me?
Week 7 Special 4 hour home-retreat: Taking care of myself
Week 8 Mindful ageing – looking ahead

About the study
In the last 20 years mindfulness has received an increasing level of interest due to a range of observed benefits. Previous studies indicate that mindfulness can help reduce stress and worry, improve mental health, sleep, awareness, self-efficacy, cognitive functioning, psychological well-being, reduce loneliness and systemic inflammation as well as depressive feelings. Most of the research into mindfulness has been targeted young or middle-aged adults. However, all of the aforementioned benefits are highly applicable to elderly people, who are dealing with a large range of potentially stressful financial, mental, social, emotional and physical challenges. Despite the obvious potential, surprisingly little attention has been paid to it in older individuals. The study seeks to fill this research gap.

The course and study is spurred by the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is causing great concern for the mental health of elderly people. However, it can also be a catalyst for investigating ways to deliver more easily accessible mindfulness-based interventions for elderly people  after the pandemic who for geographically, mental or physical reasons might be hindered or reluctant to join courses offered in in-person settings.

The study will be qualitative, which means that participants have to be willing to reflect on and share their experiences as well as take part in focus-group interviews and individual in-dept interviews. The results of the study will be public but the participants will remain anonymous. The teacher will also be the researcher and the study will take place under the supervision of Leyden Academy and Leiden University. The teacher and researcher is Berit Lewis and she will be supervised by professor David Van Bodegom

Who can participate?

Participants from all over the world who full-fills the following requirements are very welcome to contact us via the form on this page for more information:

  • 60+ years of age
  • Comfortable speaking and understanding english
  • Have not previously participated in a mindfulness course or already have a mindfulness practice
  • Cognitively well-functioning
  • Willing to fully commit to participate actively in the whole course, including the home practices, as well as in reflections and interviews for the research study.

PLEASE NOTE;  Places are limited to 12 participants and will be offered on a first come first placed basis for eligible elderly. Please submit your details to express your interest via the signup form and you will receive an email with more information. Mindfulness is not suitable for everybody and one-to-one pre-course interviews (phone or online) with the teacher/researcher are therefore a prerequisite for all participants. They are expected to take place at the beginning of March. You will be asked to sign an informed consent form to participant in the study, but you are of course free to quit at anytime. The course and study is still subject to official approval by Leiden Academy and Leiden University

 

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