Robert Mitchell founded Bromley Mindfulness in 2013. Since then, he has taught mindfulness and meditation to tens of thousands of students online and in-person at classes, courses, retreats and workshops for both the public and organisations.
Bromley Mindfulness is the most established mindfulness training organisation in Bromley, Beckenham, and the surrounding areas.
This is a catchment area of over 1 million people. We have built a natural presence through the active and engaged student community.
Through Bromley Mindfulness, Robert teaches in organisations of all kinds. Local community organisations such as Age U.K., and the NHS at sessions which have run since 2014.
Robert works with international businesses, some of which are household names. – References on request.
I want to tell you about me, about the Mindfulness-Based Resilience framework that I teach, and how it can help you.
I took up the basic practice of mindfulness meditation in 1988 as a Zen meditation technique. It was called 'mindfulness and awareness of in and out breathing'. For 20 years, meditation was a background experience for me. I found these practices useful but not transformative.
I used meditation to get to sleep (I still do). I would meditate when I was feeling calm and relaxed in a quiet place. I found that meditation enhanced that experience. Over time though, those moments became increasingly rarer.
In 2009 I found myself in yet another high-pressure job. Managing the stress that resulted had become increasingly difficult.
I have since learned that not only was I not alone in feeling stressed that way. Chronic stress is part of life for many. I was one of the 85% of people that hated their jobs. I felt that life must have more to offer. Somehow though, I never quite seemed able to find the thing to make it worthwhile.
I was searching hard for answers to help me understand my experiences. In late 2009, I was in Waterstone's bookshop in Bluewater running through the shelves. I was looking for answers to what felt like a multitude of problems. I picked up a book called 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle. It was a New York Times bestseller. It seemed to offer some insight into how I felt, so I bought it and took it home to read.
The concepts I learned from The Power of Now changed my life. I have since learned the book is like marmite. Those that don't love it find it impossible to read. Not everyone 'gets' the concepts. They may just not have reached the stage when this knowledge resonates with them. I was ready though, and much of my experience of meditation, and of life, now made sense.
I learned for the first time that: I was not my thoughts, I was not my emotions, and that the present moment is all we ever have. That may not sound transformative, but for me, it made all the difference.
For the first time, I realised that there was an alternative to how I felt and thought. The feeling of liberation was immense. I hadn't learned a new concept. It was an intuitive realisation. I now viewed the world from an entirely different perspective. I had discovered the perspective of the present moment.
The key to this new perspective, we were told, is 'Presence' or 'present moment awareness'. This was a 'way of being' which transcended our everyday awareness.
Often, awareness is clouded by unhelpful thoughts and unwanted emotions. I began practising Presence in my day.
I was later to discover that Presence had gained a new translation. It had become known as 'Mindfulness'.
These realisations rejuvenated my meditation practices. I spent more time meditating and learning about meditation. I embarked on a journey of self-study of the mind guided by my inner experience.
Each time I encountered a new experience in my life, I searched for an explanation in the literature. I looked for answers that were consistent scientifically, and spiritually, and with my personal experience. If I couldn't find a consistent answer, I kept looking.
I studied neuroscience, cognitive psychology, social psychology and behavioural economics. I read spiritual books like the Bible, the Tao Te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita. I attended meditation classes at various Buddhist Centres. I joined groups focused on the Advaita Vedanta (non-duality) school of Hinduism. I listened to spiritual teachers like Eckhart Tolle. I meditated, and I practised Presence in my day.
At first, I discovered that I could only meditate deeply in silent solitude. I needed to be out in the countryside, alone in nature. My mind was so busy and my thoughts so invasive, that any distraction would take my attention or irritate me.
When meditating in solitude, I learned that I could observe my inner experience. I began to become familiar with thought and emotion and learned what my beliefs were. I uncovered my unhelpful underlying beliefs.
I discovered the fears and needs associated with these beliefs that affected how I felt and thought. Using this new set of tools, I worked through the beliefs that were limiting my happiness. I discovered that there were very, very many of them…
A New Set Of Tools
My meditation techniques and the concepts that they taught were the keys to this change. I was releasing my unhelpful and self-limiting beliefs. I had never explored or challenged much of what I uncovered in the past. Often, I didn't know a belief existed until I discovered it with the meditative tools I had learned.
I learned that meditation was a way of finding my beliefs, needs and fears, and a way of releasing them. I worked through this heavy load of emotional baggage that I had accumulated over the years. I learned what happiness is.
I discovered that happiness is freedom from suffering. Happiness does not come from 'lifestyle' enhancements.
What I had been chasing was not happiness but actually comfort and pleasure. I learned that Presence was the key to personal transformation and personal development.
In 2012 I had been practising Presence and the meditations that teach it,for three years.
Presence had found its way into the news. It was beginning to become known as Mindfulness. An 8-week course was developed in 1979 in the U.S. It is designed to help people suffering from chronic pain and terminal illness. The course was a set of basic meditations, yoga, and some stress management techniques. The course had come to the attention of the public and organisations. It was a secular way of teaching meditation. Meditation was previously seen as new-age mumbo-jumbo. I rarely told people I meditated.
Mindfulness and Stress
At the time, science was learning that Mindfulness reduces stress. Many scientific studies were being done on this 'new' concept of Mindfulness. I discovered that there was actually nothing new. It was what I had been doing for 25 years but packaged in a way to market it as a secular product. The 'mindfulness community' accepts its own spiritual/historical roots, but it also tries to distance itself from the 'hippy-dippy' associations. I prefer to confront this head-on. There is *no conflict* between the historical legacy, the science and the experience of the mind. It is all consistent if you take the time to understand it. This is the basis from which I teach and explain Mindfulness, its practices and outcomes.
I set up Bromley Mindfulness to teach what I had learned in 2013. I developed the Mindfulness-based Resilience course in 2014. I have since taught 5,000 people in over 1,700 training sessions.
We can call what I teach Mindfulness. We can call it anything we like. The term I chose is Mindfulness-Based Resilience.
Mindfulness-Based Resilience offers a different way of being. You can learn to experience life from the present moment rather than from the past or the future. A previously oppressive life-situation can become far less intense. You can learn how to leave your suffering out of your present moment. You can find a new perspective that leads to happiness.