The Program

Life is wonderful. And life is awful.
Take a moment to breath with this reality.
Life is wonderful. And life is awful.

So what to do? One answer is to cultivate resilience – the ability to adapt to events in your life, to bounce back from difficulty, to learn, grow and thrive!

The program is designed to generate mindfulness and cultivate resilience in a powerful way. We’re excited that Lama Rod Owens will be leading the day, teaching us “radical presence,” so we can feel at home in our bodies and in the world.

You’ll experience an incredible variety of mindfulness and resilience exercises. Even if you’ve never meditated before, it’s no problem. The program is designed for everyone from beginners to Zen masters!

Resilience

Resilience

Resilience is how well we can adapt to the events in our life. Not only adapt, but learn, grow and thrive. It can also be described as the ability to bounce back from a difficult situation.

According to the American Psychological Association, “resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.”

Mindfulness helps to cultivate resilience, as it allows us to see how we adapt to each moment as it arises, to see if that adaptation is healthy or not, and to have the space to make healthier choices. Mindfulness helps us see that our lives can be both one of struggle but also one of great joy, and that these two things can co-exist together in our practice and within our experience.

A 2015 study highlighting the link between mindfulness and resilience found that: “Mindful people … can better cope with difficult thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down (emotionally).” The findings corroborate the important role of resilience in mindfulness exerting its beneficial effects.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness

We’ve seen mindfulness move from the bedroom to the boardroom and beyond, with ever more corporations and athletes embracing the proven effects of enhanced focus, resilience, emotional intelligence, kindness and compassion. The Harvard Business Review touts mindfulness as essential for business leaders and the list of companies adopting mindfulness like Google, Apple, Aetna and Ikea, is growing longer by the day. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to whatever is happening in our lives, inside and out, in the present moment. When we connect with the present, we become aware of habitual patterns of thought, emotion and behaviour. With mindfulness, we train ourselves to pay close attention to what is going on in the present moment; just as it is. Much of our suffering is a result of regrets about the past, worries about the future or judgments about the present. When we are mindful we become aware of and explore these habitual thought patterns and ways of reacting. This attitude of curiosity allows us to create new and healthier ways of responding to life’s challenges.

Benefits of mindfulness:

  • Stress reduction
  • Reduced rumination
  • Decreased negative mood
  • Less emotional reactivity/more effective emotion regulation
  • Increased focus
  • More cognitive flexibility
  • Improved working memory

Learn more about mindfulness

Program FAQ

Program FAQ

Do I need to know how to meditate?

No. The Challenge is guided by experts and designed to be accessible for everyone, even if you have never practiced mindfulness or meditation.

For sitting meditations, which will be short and alternate with movement, standing and lying down, you can sit in a chair or on a floor sitting cushion. Sitting meditations will be accessible for those who’ve never meditated before. You will be expertly guided, so you don’t need to know how to meditate. And you will always be free to change positions, lie down, stand up or do whatever is necessary to take care of yourself.

How hard will it be physically?

It will not be physically difficult, and is designed so that even those with some physical challenges can participate. Each activity will last approximately 10 to 35 minutes. The longer activities include yoga and the mindful lunch. Sitting meditations will never exceed 20 minutes without some movement. You are always free to change positions, stand or lie down.

There won’t be any complicated instructions, movements or sequences to think about. You may not be able to do exactly what others are doing, but it will be a safe space to modify any physical instructions as needed. In fact, the teachers will encourage you to make adjustments as you see fit.

How hard will it be mentally and emotionally?

If you’ve never meditated, you may wonder whether you can make it through the program. But the reality is that you can do it, no problem, because the program is designed for all levels. You can expect the 4 hours to fly by, as we guide you through one exploration after another, with increasing vividness as your mindfulness grows.

That’s not to say there won’t be challenging moments. There may be, because this is different, and our minds sometimes resist new ways of being. However, the expert guidance will help you through any rough patches. In fact, it’s the ability to be with difficulty that mindfulness trains. This is resilience.

And, if you need to, you are always free to move, stand up, lie down, or leave the hall. You have agency!

Will there be set breaks?

Throughout the program, the aim is to maintain a continuity of mindfulness practice, to return again and again to an awareness of what is going on in our bodies, our minds and our surroundings. Continuity of practice supercharges your mindfulness batteries!

To support you to maintain continuity of your mindfulness practice, there will be no set breaks. You are free to go to the washroom or otherwise take care of yourself as you see fit. While on your break, we encourage to maintain your mindfulness by being aware of your steps, your breath, and your bodily sensations.

Silence

Although the teachers will be speaking, and there will be sights, sounds, smells and tastes, we ask you to maintain silence throughout the program. Maintaining silence allows our minds to settle and become clear, to be in deeper contact with ourselves and, believe it or not, those around us. If you need to speak, you can leave the room at any time, or raise your hand to call over a Guide to help you.

Cell Phones and Electronic Devices

The Challenge offers a refreshing opportunity to take a break from our cell phones, tablets, and other electronic devices. If you do need to use them, please leave the hall and find a place where other participants cannot hear you.

Will lunch be provided?

Lunch will be provided in Toronto and London. See your Location Page for details.

How do I select a floor sitting cushion or a chair?

When you register, you will be asked if you prefer to sit in a chair or on a cushion. We do this so we can set up enough chairs, and leave room for those using cushions (Bring Your Own Cushion – in Toronto they can also be rented or purchased). We will be emailing all participants prior to the event to provide more information.

Will there be a posture workshop?

In Toronto, REALthings will have a booth and be offering personal posture guidance before the program begins.

I don’t have a yoga mat, do I need one?

Yes, yoga mats are recommended for the yoga activities, and are great as a base if you’re using a floor sitting cushion. If you do not have a mat, try borrowing one from a friend. We will have mats for sale at Daniels Spectrum in Toronto. We will be emailing all participants prior to the event to provide more information.

Registration FAQ

Registration FAQ

General Registration

Is there a registration fee?

Yes. The registration fee depends on the location and how early you register. See The Registration page for details.

When is the registration deadline?

The registration deadline for Toronto is Wednesday, November 21 at 11:59 pm. There is no deadline for other locations.

Can I get a refund, transfer or deferral if I cannot attend?

Registration fees and donations are non-refundable. If you know you won’t be able to attend, we’d be grateful if you let us know! You can transfer your space to someone you know or we can offer the spot to another. Thanks!

What if I registered for the wrong location?

If you registered for the wrong location, please email us at challenge@mindfulnessstudies.com and we will correct it.

How many participants will there be?

We expect Daniels Spectrum in Toronto to be full, with 220 participants. Other locations hold 30 – 80 people each. There’s no limit to how many can participate virtually!

Having trouble registering?

Watch this video.

Team Registration

How many people do you need for a team?

We encourage a minimum of three to make a team, but you can register as one—the Team Captain, and then ask others to join your team. The more people who join your team, the more fun, and the more good you can do.

How do I register my team?

Be the Team Captain and register a team online now by CLICKING HERE. And have some fun with it—give your team a unique name or theme. Using the email templates in the online participant centre, it’s easy to invite your family, friends and colleagues to join your team.

What if I’m already registered and want to create a team?

If you want to create a team and be the Team Captain, but you’re already registered, please contact The Centre for Mindfulness Studies at challenge@mindfulnessstudies.com or 647-524-6216.

What if I’m already registered and want to join a team?

You can join a team by clicking on Join a Team in the main menu of the Participant Centre. Search for a Team and click Join beside the team you would like to join.

What if I joined the wrong team by mistake? How can I switch teams?

E-mail us at challenge@mindfulnessstudies.com or call us at 647-524-6216 and tell us your name and the name of the team you would like to join. If you’re already registered, more info about joining and switching teams is available in the Participant Centre online help.

Logging In

What if I forgot my online password or username?

Go to the Participant Login Page. Follow the prompts to have a new password and username sent to your email.

Volunteer

Volunteer

 

Can I volunteer?

Yes, we need volunteers at all our locations – Toronto, Kitchener, London, Oakville and Oshawa. Simply fill out our volunteer form, and we’ll be in touch. Areas you can help with include registration, set-up/tear down, lunch, outreach, organizing, IT and more. Thank you for your support!

Is there a minimum age to volunteer?

We love volunteers of all ages, however, if you are under the age of 18 years, you must have parental or guardian consent.

For the past six years, the Centre for Mindfulness Studies has emerged as the leading provider of professional mindfulness training in Canada. As a charity and social enterprise, the Centre is committed to making mindfulness available to everyone. We work with more than 20 social service agencies and seven healthcare partners to bring mindfulness into the communities that need it most. It’s the heart of what we do.

Learn more about how our Community Program empowers marginalized and disadvantaged people to take control of their own mental health and well-being through mindfulness-based interventions, and our community-based model of care.