Mindfulness | Chris O'Brien Lifehouse
Upcoming Mindfulness Classes

Mindfulness is an easily learned set of practices that is based on training our attention. Mindfulness provides you with the tools and outlook to help you skilfully cope with illness, stress or mental health challenges, including anxiety and depression. It also provides a life changing framework for living that can support you through life’s journey.

As you learn, you develop the skill of consciously bringing awareness to your body and mind, in the present moment. You learn how to create a gentle, receptive and compassionate awareness that helps you notice how the body is feeling, what thoughts you are having, and how to let go of reactivity and thoughts that are stuck in the past or that are anxious about the future. You also learn how to work with troubling symptoms and physical sensations, whatever the cause. Through this process, you can build resilience and greater agency.

Research in universities around the world has shown that the regular practice of mindfulness can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, improve resilience and alleviate pain.

Learn more about the Lifehouse mindfulness program and our research in the sections below.

To enrol in the next 7 week online course, please visit this page. This course is being conducted as part of a research study and is free for cancer patients.

If your preference is for in-person group classes, please note that these have been temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are unsure about whether these are right for you or have concerns about them, please email us.

In-person individual sessions have resumed and are available by appointment.  Email the mindfulness team here.

Meet our team

Sherre Delys | Photo: Cynthia Sciberras

Photo by Cynthia Sciberras

BA (Hons) University of California, Berkeley, PhD research candidate, University of Canberra

Sherre DeLys’ focus is to provide skills to work with the challenges and demands of cancer and treatment. By learning to practice the simple skills of mindfulness we change our relationship to difficult experiences. We come home to our rightful inheritance – a sense of inner resilience. and a mind that is clear and calm.

Sherre trained to teach mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn and other senior teachers from the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, UMass Medical School, and with Openground in Sydney.  Her PhD research explores how mindfulness helps individuals to thrive in the face of uncertainty, with energized focus and a sense of personal agency. Sherre has also undertaken Compassion Cultivation Training at The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, Stanford University School of Medicine. Also a multi-award winning artist whose creative projects use mindfulness to connect art and health, Sherre has provided mindfulness consultancy for organisations including UNSW felt Experience & Empathy Lab, where psychologists and art specialists work together developing mental health interventions that can be provided outside the health sector. She’s created two documentary series exploring innovations in mindfulness for the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), and she designs and leads courses in mindful leadership and creativity for RMIT University and Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in the US.

Sherre engages in ongoing professional development, and regular mindfulness retreats and workshops in the US, Australia and Asia.

BA (Hons) University of Sydney, AMRA

Chris has studied and practiced mindfulness and meditation since 2005 and has led the mindfulness program at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse since 2014. He has trained with OpenGround Australia and the Mindfulness Training Institute of Australia and undertakes ongoing professional development in Australia and overseas.

His research interests at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse include the clinical application of mindfulness in supportive care and the mechanisms by which mindfulness works.

Chris has a special interest in the use of mindfulness for anxiety, stress, pain and other symptom management. His previous work at Arthritis Australia has led to an understanding and empathy for people managing chronic illness and a focus on providing practical, evidence-based solutions, particularly through online programs.

Chris leads group classes and private sessions by appointment for our patients who wish to learn mindfulness practices and how to apply them in managing disease and treatment symptoms. His focus is on helping patients develop mindfulness skills to work with troubling thoughts, emotions and body sensations.

Sherre DeLys

Current PhD research project

Uncertainty is difficult to tolerate, but with mindfulness we can learn to thrive in uncertainty. This qualitative research project surveys participant experiences to explore the lived experience of using mindfulness practice to work with difficult states caused by uncertainty. The research reports that practicing mindfulness facilitates tolerance of uncertainty, and in doing so establishes the conditions for flow states characterised by energized focus, a loss of self-consciousness, and a sense of personal agency.

Status: Currently preparing research results for thesis submission and examination.

Chris Dickson

Current research

Is a 7-week online mindfulness program feasible, acceptable, appropriate and effective for people diagnosed with cancer?
Status: Research study currently recruiting.

Does physician prescribed meditation reduce cancer-related pain and opioid use?
Status: Research study under preparation.

Prior publications

Hodges P, Hall LM, Setchell J, French S, Kasza J, Bennell KL, Hunter D, Vicenzino B, Crofts SJC, Dickson C, Ferreira M, (2021) Can a consumer-focused website for low back pain change health literacy, treatment choices and clinical outcomes? A randomised controlled trial, Journal of Medical Internet Research (forthcoming 2021).

Wang X, Urban H, Bennell KL, Dickson C, Dobson F, Fransen M, Jones G, Hunter DJ. My joint pain, a web-based resource, effects on education and quality of care at 24 months, BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2020;21(1):79. Published 2020 Feb 6. doi:10.1186/s12891-020-3074-2

Jeon YH, Flaherty I, Urban H, Wortley S, Dickson C, Salkeld G, Hunter DJ. Qualitative Evaluation of Evidence-Based Online Decision Aid and Resources for Osteoarthritis Management: Understanding Patient Perspectives, Arthritis Care Research (Hoboken). 2019;71(1):46‐55. doi:10.1002/acr.23572

Hall LM, Ferreira M, Setchell J, French S, Kasza J, Bennell KL, Hunter DJ, Vicenzino B, Dickson C, Hodges P. MyBackPain: evaluation of an innovative consumer-focused website for low back pain: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial, BMJ Open. 2019;9(5):e027516. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-027516

Umapathy H, Bennell K, Dickson C, Dobson F, Fransen M, Jones G, Hunter DJ. My joint pain: the effect of a web-based OA management resource on quality of care, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 2017; Volume 25, Sup. 1, S178. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2017.02.310

Algeo, N, Hunter D, Cahill A, Dickson C, Adams J. Usability of a digital self-management website for people with osteoarthritis: A UK patient and public involvement study, International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, February 2017, Vol 24, No 2. doi: 10.12968/ijtr.2017.24.2.78

Umapathy H, Bennell K, Dickson C, et al. The Web-Based Osteoarthritis Management Resource My Joint Pain Improves Quality of Care: A Quasi-Experimental Study, Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2015;17(7):e167. doi:10.2196/jmir.4376

Algeo, N, Adams J, Cahill A, Dickson C, Hunter D. A Patient and Public Involvement Group Study on the Usability of the Myjointpain.org Website.  Rheumatology (Oxford) 2015; 54 (suppl_1): i105. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kev089.028

Mindfulness begins right where you are – there’s no need to change anything. Sitting comfortably in a chair, or lying down, you will focus your attention on something immediate and obvious such as natural body sensations or the flow of your breath. Throughout the session, your instructor will guide your attention so that you become aware of different aspects of your body and immediate environment such as the sensations of your feet resting on the floor, or the weight of your body on the chair.

The course will include access to online content from leading scientists and clinicians explaining how mindfulness works and how you can reduce stress and reactivity through the practice.

Guided meditations and practices will also be available to you so that you are able to practice at home. You will also learn and practice how to apply mindfulness to everyday activities like walking, eating or driving.

We encourage cancer patients, and their carers and friends to learn this gentle and life-changing practice. It’s best to start a mindfulness course as soon as you are diagnosed so that you can use the skills you learn throughout your treatment. However, learning at any time during treatment and beyond will also be beneficial. If you feel you have symptoms or challenges that will prevent you from starting the course or hinder you in any way, please discuss these with the mindfulness team as they can provide you with tailored information so that you can make an informed decision.

The Lifehouse mindfulness course is now delivered by an instructor online over 7 weekly sessions via Zoom. These group classes run for 90 minutes. The classes are practically oriented and focus on learning and understanding the different elements of mindfulness practice. You can use a phone or computer to access these weekly sessions. If you are unsure how to do this, your instructor will help you set up access.

It’s also possible to learn via 90 minute one-on-one sessions so that the program can be tailored to your needs. There is a charge for these individual sessions.

Research studies around the world have shown that mindfulness can assist you to feel less stressed, less anxious or depressed, and more able to engage with your life, no matter how difficult or challenging things may be. Mindfulness can also help you learn how to understand and work with symptoms such as pain so that reactivity is reduced while resilience is increased.

There are short term and long term benefits to mindfulness practice. In the first session most people will understand the relevance and potential of the practice. From there, it may take another few weeks to understand how to apply mindfulness and to integrate it in your life. With practice, many people are inspired to make it integral to their lifestyle.

A summary of the research and different mindfulness therapies can be found here.

To make an appointment and to find out the full range of our fees, please call 02 8514 0038 (leave a message) or email the mindfulness team.

We are here to help you. If you are undergoing financial hardship, please contact us regardless of whether you feel you can afford the program. Our hardship fund can assist you in this situation. Our main priority is to support you during treatment and beyond.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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