The genius of Tulku Urgyen was that he could point out the nature of mind with precision and matter-of-factness of teaching a person how to thread a needle and could get an ordinary meditator like me to recognize that consciousness is intrinsically free of self ... I came to Tulku Urgyen yearning for the experience of self-transcendence, and in a few minutes he showed me I had no self to transcend ... Tulku Urgyen simply handed me the ability to cut through the illusion of the self directly, even in ordinary states of consciousness. This instruction was, without question, the most important thing I have ever been explicitly taught by another human being. It has given me a way to escape the usual tides of psychological suffering - fear, anger, shame - in an instant. - Sam Harris
how to live well – a shared exploration
what is it? This course is ambitious. It aims to help us live longer, healthier lives that are more energised, happy and fulfilled. We will work to improve our knowledge and activities in three interconnected areas – optimising wellbeing, nourishing relationships, and living with health, energy & resilience. The course is constructed partly on the recent state-of-the-art, evidence-based ENHANCE intervention for building wellbeing, with ingredients that focus on our values, self-determination theory’s needs/goals/motivations, mindfulness & compassion, positive emotions & savouring, and the central importance of relationships.
We’ll look too at ways of supporting close relationships, including using Singer’s ‘affect dyad’ to encourage sharing feelings and Grossmann’s ‘wise reasoning scale’ for skilful conflict resolution. We’ll explore, as well, Dunbar’s work on healthy social networks, and Haslam’s fascinating focus on social identity. As Kurt Lewin put it “There’s nothing so practical as a good theory”, and we will use these relationship maps to develop highly practical ways of improving interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills – which are such hugely important aspects of our lives.
So, wellbeing, relationships – and life skills too. We’ll introduce the ‘mindbus model’ with its coping components built on values-focus, mindfulness, self-compassion, emotion processing, and wisdom. We’ll also underline the foundational importance of the basic life skills – working well with exercise, sleep, diet & dependencies. The classic Norfolk study following more than 200,000 UK adults for over 11 years showed those with healthier lifestyles died at only a quarter of the rate of those with the worst. Those living most healthily were – for mortality risk and functioning – biologically 14 years younger than those living poorly. Yet most of us are not living well. Two US studies show that only 3% of the population tick all boxes for basic healthy lifestyle practices.
Potentially this course is life changing. What it will definitely provide is a huge amount of support for participants to live much more healthily, more productively, and with greater wellbeing. Broad-based lifestyle and wellbeing courses like this can definitely have major impacts. Two quite recent randomised studies (Andersen & Orth-Gomer) showed a halving of mortality in cancer sufferers and death rates reduced by two thirds in those with heart problems. And this course isn’t only about life and death! It is also centrally about living more relaxed, energised & happier lives – wellbeing, relationships & life skills. Research now highlights clear pathways to do this.
who is the group for? The group is for anyone who wants to work seriously at helping themselves be healthier, less stressed, and more fulfilled. It will be hard work – and potentially tremendously rewarding. We will be 6 to 8 people (plus the facilitator, Dr James Hawkins). James will provide the knowledge base and many years of experience with these methods. We as a group will work together over three months to encourage and support each other on this “journey” of change. It’s one of the great strengths of group work that we can inspire, challenge, empathise, learn from, and help each other.
course dates: The course involves ten two-hour sessions - typically the first nine meetings are at weekly intervals and the tenth session three or four weeks later. Further one-to-one follow-up is then an option.