Release the Pressure – Heartfulness comes to the City of London

Heartfulness in the City: Four free events in collaboration with the City of London and Dragon Cafe in the City.


As part of the City of London’s Business Healthy initiative, Dragon Cafe in the City is offering a number of taster sessions to help City residents and workers learn skills to improve their well-being.  The quickest way to check in with your physical and mental health is through your heart.  If you like what you experience, you can sign up for our May 2018 Heartfulness Course (commencing May 2nd and running for 10 weeks – training to support heart health for the rest of your life).

Flyer May 2018 Course at London Bridge (commencing May 2nd).


Heart disease and depression are two of the leading causes of reduced well-being and they are tightly related.  Caring for our hearts, emotionally and physically will transform your working and personal life.  This is the work of the Heartfulness Project.

In these four taster sessions you can get a glimpse of the tools and techniques that can support you in this process. You can come to one, or to all. Each will be slightly different.

It’s mindfulness + +. We move mindfully (which you can do at any time as you are working) and we practice compassion and mindfulness exercises designed to alter your brain chemistry and soothe your system. We tap into the power of creativity to explore the more playful side of our character.

The Heartfulness Project Team, Dr. Tamara Russell and Dr. Maya Campbell, will be at Shoe Lane Library for four Thursday evenings in Feb (8th and 22nd) and March (8th and 22nd) from 7-8.30pm.

Note that the session on the 22nd will be just 1 hour (7-8pm).

Session 4 – Thursday March 22nd, 7-8pm   Heart Tech

In this final session we will continue to explore the links between heart physiology, compassion, mind and emotions. Maya will demo the HeartMath application she has personally used to monitor her heart rate variability and directly SEE the impact of living more compassionately on heart function. We also used this in our study with those with heart conditions.  Biofeedback is a great way to accelerate learning and there are a number of products in development.  We spoke to  the founder of this company. They use the amazing Tara Brach as the meditation teacher on the app. She is someone who has really inspired the work of the Mindfulness Centre of Excellence.

Come and find out how to harness this to develop your own practice and move to compassionate living and working more speedily.


Session 3 – Thursday March 8th, 7-8.30pm  Turn your inner critic into an inner coach

Come and join Dr.  Maya Campbell for the third session of the Release the Pressure series of events. This is part of the City of London’s Business Healthy initiative.  Explore different ways to activate the care system – through movement, through top down cognitive systems and through the heart.

Hear about Maya’s inspiring journey and how she has used self-compassion as the basis of her healing process.  In this moment in our human history, we need now more than ever to revisit and re-discover our capacity to self-heal through self-compassion and other practices.  What can you do RIGHT NOW that tilts the mind towards being kinder, gentler, less harsh on yourself. Men particularly need to find ways to explore this side of . themselves.  It’s especially when guilt and shame begin to overwhelm.

March 22nd will be the final session in this series (just one hour 7-8pm) but you can find out more about the Heartfulness Course starting in April here. You can also read a bit about the science and the outcomes from our study here.

Some feedback from participants in the last session

The course has opened up a system of using the brain in a different way – I am finding it difficult but can understand how this can benefit coping with looking after my mental and physical health.

It was very relaxing

Felt good to be exposed to new techniques, compassion and tai chi

Feels relaxing after the session almost an extended feeling of my meditation practice

Good to hear other peoples opinions

Good idea. Very helpful tips. I love the combination of physical and mental help.

I found the session to be very insightful.



Session 2 – Thursday Feb 22nd, 7-8.30pm The Courage to Care

Come and join us for the second session of the Release the Pressure series of events. This is part of the City of London’s Business Healthy initiative.

We will be using movement, meditations and discussion to explore the Courage to Care.

Compassion is not a soft option. It takes real strength to lean in and approach the things we fear. Yet it is via this route that we can really discover how powerful we are.

Join Dr Maya Campbell as she share’s her own inspirational story of facing life’s challenges with mindfulness and compassion. Dr. Tamara Russell will bring a martial arts perspective, revealing how the softening in tai chi actually makes you stronger. We will review some of the emerging science which tells us that when we have the courage to care, we unlock our true strength.

Come and play ……




Session 1 was held on Thursday Feb 8th, 7-8.30pm Release the Pressure … getting into the green.

Working from Paul Gilbert’s model the session will explore in a variety of ways how to “get into the green mode”.

Gilbert’s brain-based model shows how we have three main modes of emotional operation – red (threat, unsafe), blue (attaining, goal directed) and green (creative, contented, connected).

All three modes are associated with a variety of neurotransmitters and hormones, some of which, in excess, drain us (e.g. cortisol) and some of which nurture us (oxytocin, for some hard science click here).

Too much time in the red and blue (which is the experience of many of city workers) leads to exhaustion and illness and in Maya’s case, heart attack and heart failure. Sadly, Maya’s story is not an unusual one. A number of studies have shown links between chronic stress and heart disease.

Pause for a moment and reflect – when did you last really feel calm and contented? What did your body feel like? How did you feel in your heart?

Fear-driven striving is the norm for so many people, we are often totally unaware we are in this mode.

(c) Psychology Tools adapted from Gilbert (2005)

The red mode is incompatible with the green mode. This is why when we are stressed and anxious we are often not interested in other people and lose our natural compassion.  TfL has a great video  that conveys some of this experience, “revealing parts of ourselves we hardly recognize“.  “Get out of my way homeless person, I’m in a hurry!”.

In the green, we feel calm, contented, connected and creative. We feel safe, so we can be open to others, curious, interested and playful. In this mode, we really do our best thinking.

This green mode is a great antidote to the stress on the heart from living at such a pace. Our work at the Heartfulness Team aims to promote heart health, for those with heart conditions, at risk of heart conditions, or anyone who is interested in the power of compassion practices to support health, well-being and creativity.

Come and explore ways of getting into the green using the moving body, seated practices and a creative exploration of the three zones.

Participants will take away a framework to help them recognize which mode they are in and strategies to ensure they spend more time in the green. We will also provide audio guides for the key practices.

Sign up to the MCoE mailing list to be kept informed of any updates or forthcoming courses.


Anyone interested in the longer course that will run over 12 weeks in late Spring 2018, please contact for more information.