In 2006, in Victoria BC, Dr. Mark Sherman designed the Creating Inner Peace course in mindfulness based stress management based upon his perceived need among his patients, and inspired by his own meditation practice and training in cognitive behavioural therapy. The courses started out as groups of 10-12 people 2 or 3 times per year.
As popularity and demand for the Creating Inner Peace courses grew, the course content evolved, and several more courses were offered each year. In 2010, Monica Kingsbury began co-facilitating with Dr. Sherman, bringing her own experience and wisdom to the course and to facilitation. In 2012, Dr. Sherman began offering the courses as group medical visits thus allowing Medical Services Plan of British Columbia to cover the costs, and reducing any financial barrier to people accessing this service.
As Creating Inner Peace gained popularity concurrent with increased access to people in the community, it became clear that and expanded model of service delivery was required. In 2012 Dr. Joanna Cheek, Dr. Erin Burrell, Dr. Kiri Simms and Patti O’Sullivan began meeting with Dr. Sherman with a purpose to expand the potential of the Creating Inner Peace work. A proposal was offered to the Vancouver Island Health Authority but was unfortunately denied. Determined to continue this work, and after much meeting, dialogue and work, in 2013 the British Columbia Association of Living Mindfully (BCALM) was born as a non-profit society and Creating Inner Peace soon evolved into what is now called the Art of Living Mindfully.
As of May 2015, the Art of Living Mindfully (ALM) serves over 900 people per year who are challenged by depression, anxiety, chronic pain, sleep issues and other chronic stress conditions. Between nine and eleven courses are run every two months by three trained facilitators in Greater Victoria. Participants are referred by physicians and other mental health professionals and costs are covered by MSP as facilitators are physicians.
BCALM formed its Board of Directors in 2014, and expanded its programming beyond ALM to include Mindfulness Days, presentations and workshops facilitating mindfulness in education, workshops in Mindfulness in Medicine, and pilot programs in MSP funded mindfulness programming in the Sunshine Coast and in Nelson, BC.
BCALM proudly continues to work towards it vision of facilitating mindfulness in homes, schools, workplaces and communities throughout British Columbia.