Mindfulness is often seen as an individual activity. It is, after all, about noticing personal experiences, and therefore requires a certain amount of introspection. Despite this, mindfulness is often taught in the context of a relationship or a community. In individual or group therapy sessions, or during a training seminar, the therapist leads an exercise and then is available for debrief. Having a sounding board to discuss, reflect, and process the experience is very valuable and goes a long way towards establishing and developing an individual practice.

When we developed Mindful Mood Balance, it was important to maintain the sense of community that participants get with in-person training and seminars, and stay true to the principles of MBCT training. That is why we included a variety of features that create engagement and provide motivation and support. Video clips of real discussion groups reviewing their experiences are available, so that users can hear feedback from others and benefit from the group leader's insights and guidance. If users have a question that is not answered in the discussion group, they have the opportunity to submit that question to the experts. Answered questions are added to an ever-evolving resource that all users can access.

There is also a discussion board that creates a virtual community and functions like an online, interactive discussion group. It’s a great place to share experiences, ask questions, or just reach out to others who are on the same journey. This allows anyone without the access to in-person training to have the same sense of community and involvement they would get in a group training, right in the comfort of their own home or office. 

Check out the video below to hear more about the relationship between community and mindfulness from Dr. Sona Dimidjian. 

Creating a sense of relationship and community online

One of the things that I have always thought is so fascinating about mindfulness, and the ways in which mindfulness is delivered and practiced, is that it always occurs in the context of a relationship. In fact, in many cases it's taught and practiced in the context of a community. When Zindel and I were thinking about this kind of novel, if not radical idea, that we could actually teach MBCT online, we knew that one of the really important pieces was how to create this sense of relationship and community for people.

That's so important today for all kinds of reasons. We live these hugely dispersed lives where our family and our friends and our colleagues are spread all over the world. We knew that we wanted an online program that could reach out and deliver training in this kind of distributed way, but at the same time do it in a way that harnessed this power of connection and community. That was actually one of the reasons that led me to work with the folks at NogginLabs. They get, I think, in a really fundamental way, that creating good e-learning is truly a community endeavor. It's a community activity. Learning happens, and although it's an individual person engaging with these programs individually, they do so in a way that creates this sense of being part of this huge network of learners. I think that is phenomenal and it's also really rare and unique.