Firstly, well done for making your intention to continue the training that you have started—and this really is a training programme for the mind. Just as we know it’s important to look after our bodies ( and there are numerous training programmes for that) Mindfulness is one way of looking after our minds-something we tend to neglect and yet our minds are the gateway to how we view the world and ourselves…so pretty important stuff I would say!
One quote I come back to is that “An untrained mind can be a rocky place” and that may resonate for you too.
It can also be helpful to remind yourself that we practice Mindfulness, not only to help our own wellbeing but, as how we are impacts directly on all around us, it is very much to help those close to us too.
Home Practice can seem like another job to do, and we tend to always be “working” on something. There can be a sense of needing to “roll your sleeves up” to do the practice.
I would encourage you to remind yourself that the actual translation of the word Meditation is “Cultivation”.
And what we are cultivating is a mind which has more of the characteristics that we may wish to fill our minds with—perhaps qualities such as patience, kindness, appreciation and compassion. We spend so much time with other stuff such as worry, aversion, frustration and impatience—and you may have noticed how easily it is for this stuff to come up! We really don’t have to train for that to happen…it’s how we were designed evolutionarily-before we know it our minds are full of it!
But what we spend our time dwelling on is what colours our experience. And our experience is our life.
So practice as if your life depends on it…because in a very real way it does.
So we are cultivating something different. We are growing a different quality of our minds. One that we may find brings more happiness and less reactivity to what goes on in our lives. It may help us flourish in whatever we do. But it is a journey…and we are only just at the start.
And there will be many many times when we forget to water or tend the soil, but we can always come back. We are amazingly resilient us human beings. And apart from our own experience of how it helps, there is so much evidence on the subject too.
And lack of time is often a big factor in preventing us from practicing. Well the latest evidence here shows that people who dedicate time to formal practice have a lesser sense of time urgency, which translates as they feel they actually have MORE time in their day. And I can certainly vouch for that.
Seeing this practice as cultivating these qualities in yourself, which are already there, may help to keep you going. No rolling up of sleeves required!
Home Practice Sessions 1 +2
When you first wake up, before you get out of bed or last thing at night just before you go to sleep do either the 10 Finger Appreciation Practice or take a few moments to feel the warmth in the bed, the sensations of contact with the mattress/duvet and allow yourself 5 mindful breaths. Try to do one of these practices at either end of the day, deciding for yourself which one suits the morning or night time best for you.
10 Finger Appreciation Practice. Every day this week, bring to mind ten things which you are grateful for,counting them on your fingers.It is important to try to get to ten, even if it becomes increasingly difficult after three or four.Try and sense lightly what each one feels like in the body. The aim of the exercise is to encourage us to notice things that we could appreciate every day but normally overlook and to "Turn Good Facts into Good Experiences"
Try and spend at least a minute, maybe at the start of the day, outside with nature, and noticing what’s there
The words of Mindfulness teacher Larry ward may be helpful…
"I go outside and I listen to birds for one minute and I try to see how many different sounds I can hear in nature.
I try to figure out every day how to spend time outside of how man has defined things and paying attention to the natural world, encountering the natural world, and being willing to learn from what is not me. For me, that's something I do every day. I do the birds or I check the flowers, what's opening when. I check the wind. Throughout the day I try to make sure I don't lose consciousness of the fact I'm on a planet. "
Keeping the body in mind when listening and speaking. Practise 50:50 awareness at times when listening and speaking during the coming week. Perhaps identify a particular person in your life with whom you’d especially like to practise this, or a particular anticipated conversation. Use anchors for your attention (feet, seat, breath).
In addition to your regular practice that you do (if any) add in, each day
2 scheduled 3 step Breathing Spaces every day
At least 2 Full 40 minute Body Scans each week (instead of your usual practice)
You may be aware that practices can be streamed using an app for Apple devices available from the itunes app store (search Oxford MBCT) or via an equivalent website at: mbctapp.oxfordmindfulness.org
Hope to see you next month on Wednesday 11th October for Sessions 3 +4 (even if you missed the 1st session--it's not a problem)