Introduction to Mindfulness, week 1

Hello everyone,

I hope day one of our mindfulness course was good for all of you. Personally, I like having 10-20 people in a course, as this adds an amazing diversity of backgrounds and perspectives to a course. But a smaller group allows for more intimacy, which can also be very, very beneficial. I know that for each of you, this can feel like a very personal exploration. However, as discussed in class, it is also, by necessity, interpersonal.

I mentioned in class that I'll send out links to guided meditations you can do during the week. Here is a link to those meditations:

https://merlinccc.org/merlin-workshops-courses-archive/4-week-intensive-mindfulness-course-february-march-2017/

You can try the 9-minute meditation I recorded there, or one of the 5 or 10 minute breathing meditations linked below. Next week we'll talk about and practice loving-kindness meditation,

so save those for then.

Wishing you all the best in the days to come and I look forward to seeing you all next Tuesday.


Introduction to Mindfulness, week 2

Hi Everyone,

 

Thank you for your continued efforts and for welcoming Dan and Joey to the group (Dan, can you pass this on to Joey? - thanks!). As mentioned, I have a few additional resources for this week. 

 

We're trying to work up to 20 (or more) minutes of meditation time each day. That can seem like a lot sometimes, but viewing it as a gift to yourself to build the skill of mindfulness can make it easier. Whatever you do, the key is to build a habit that will last, so bring as much 'fun' to it as possible.

 

You can continue on with mindfulness of breathing practices from last week, or perhaps try about 5 minutes of mindfulness of breathing followed by one of these guided loving-kindness meditations:

 

If you're feeling very ambitious, you can try an unguided 20-minute meditation. Here is a youtube video with a bell every 5 minutes you can use (you can try the loving-kindness, using each 5 minutes for one of the people and then extending it out in your own time after the closing 3 bells; be sure to turn off the youtube 'autoplay' feature or the next video will start):

And a fun assignment, eating meditation (I recommend a raisin or perhaps an apple slice, something small):

The CBS segment we discussed can be viewed here:

 

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/brain-hacking-tech-insiders-60-minutes/

 

And, while I try to include bits of the science and psychology in each session, it's not my strong suit. So if you'd like some quick science-y inspiration this week, try one of these talks:

Lastly, as these talks both reference the 40-minute, 8 week MBSR program and I have mentioned that in relation to the 10-minute (I thought it was 20), 4 week KORU program, you might be interested in reading the study done showing the effectiveness of the shorter program:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4016159/ .

 

With best wishes and looking forward to seeing you all next Tuesday,

Introduction to Mindfulness, week 3

 

Dear all,

 

First, it was again great to see some of those 'ah-ha' moments coming through in our conversation last week. These are extremely helpful in building and maintaining our confidence in our practice. This is essential for getting through the plateaus and difficult meditations and the all too easy option of cynicism and giving up. 

 

If your doubt has led to further investigation, I'm always interested to see and hear what is found. My own trust in certain teachers and science helps when the personal experience of meditation isn't what I'd hope it to be. 

 

One study that I read recently, for which I only have the abstract and concluding remarks, showed that a meditation retreat was superior to a vacation for not just alleviating stress, but for helping participants get control over stressful conditions - so creating long-term benefits:

 

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/acm.2014.5242.abstract

 

So it  *does work*, though it can be difficult in our demanding lives to set and maintain a regular meditation schedule, especially after the initial phase of ambition and excitement wear off. 

 

If your practice is flagging, you might benefit from Vince and Emily Horn's series of videos here:

 

http://www.meditate.io/#mapping-mindful-path

 

They expand upon the 3-stages discussed in the workbook (ambition, crisis, acceptance) in a way that could help.

 

By this time, we hope to see the mindfulness seeping into our daily lives more: remembering to breathe between bites of food or in the midst of a tense conversation or when tempted by an indulgence that might not be so good for us in the long run. Try out the eating meditation this week(video in link below) if you haven't already. Add some walking meditation or gentle yoga to your daily sit as well if you feel that practice getting dull. 

 

Eating practice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaEeXsDEwEo

 

And if things are going well, try just silence for 15-20 minutes or using a timed meditation video like this one: 

 

20 minutes (with bowl-ring every 5): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oik407u5FI4  

 

Remember to really set the intention to stick with the full period of sitting and to return to the breath (or loving-kindness practice) as many times as possible in the practice. Quite often it is the most difficult practice that leads to the greatest gains even though these won't be felt right away. 

 

As always, the important work - the heavy lifting - is the sitting meditation where we just keep coming back to the breath again and again.

 

I look forward to seeing you all again on Tuesday for our final class.

 

With best wishes,

 

Justin 


Introduction to Mindfulness, week 4