4 week mindfulness course

at yogahome, 21 May - 11 June 2021

Simple and effective tools and techniques to help us live our lives with more openness, kindness, resilience, and less reactivity, frustration, anger and stress.

WEEK 1   |   WEEK 2   |   WEEK 3   |   WEEK 4

Week 1

Moving out of autopilot
Waking up to presence

 

Key learning

  • An introduction to mindfulness: What is it? What are the benefits? 
  • Autopilot, the default mode network
  • Arriving in presence
  • Establishing a personal practice

Recordings and practice downloads

(right click and choose ‘save link as’)

Explore informal practices during the week

  • Be mindful of everyday activities (like eating, brushing your teeth, commuting)
  • Arrive in presence during the day – take a pause, take a breath
  • Establish a personal practice

Resources

I'd like to make more mistakes next time.
I'd relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been on this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I'm one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I'd have more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
I've been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall, I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.

Nadine Stair, 85 years old

Week 2

Our inner world: sensations, thoughts and feelings

 

Key learning

  • Opening to awareness: emotions, feeling states and thoughts
  • Perception: biases and filters, noticing what’s pleasant or unpleasant
  • Acceptance: meeting experience without interfering or judging

Recordings and practice downloads

(right click and choose ‘save link as’)

Explore informal practices during the week

  • Notice thoughts during the day – memories, worry, rumination.
  • Pause often – feel the breath, feel the body. Have a moment of complete presence with your experience acknowledging what’s there without judging.
  • Explore mindful walking – grounding, trusting the present as support for our experience.

Resources

I
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk I fall in. I am lost ... I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes me forever to find a way out.

II
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I am in the same place but, it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

III
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in ... it's a habit. my eyes are open I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

IV
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

V
I walk down another street.

Autobiography in Five Short ChaptersPortia Nelson

Week 3

Thoughts aren’t facts: understanding stress and suffering

 

Key learning

  • Noticing thought patterns, habits and patterns of reactivity
  • What to do when things get difficult 
  • The impact of stress on health and wellbeing

Recordings and practice downloads

(right click and choose ‘save link as’)

Explore informal practices during the week

  • Notice unpleasant experiences in daily life and how the mind and body respond.
  • Tips for self-care: soothing techniques and ways to support the parasympathetic nervous system: self-massage, a few deep breaths, warm water over hands, hugging

Resources

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness
comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

The guesthouseRumi

Week 4

The negativity bias and how to create a positive outlook

 

Key learning

  • Making choices: Responding skilfully rather than react impulsively 
  • The neuroscience of happiness 
  • Effects of meditation on the brain

Recordings and practice downloads

(right click and choose ‘save link as’)

Explore informal practices during the week

  • Be engaged and present with your life. Recognise when you’re on autopilot and bring in awareness and curiosity: the mind is fascinating, life is unique. Introduce short mindful pauses particularly in situations that cause stress: Commuting to work, meetings at work, pain, lack of sleep, a difficult conversation, etc.
  • Notice how your thoughts are influenced by perception and how much you take them personally: remember that thoughts are simply mental events – outside of our direct control – they’re not facts.
  • Savour positive experiences: Noticing pleasant experiences in daily life and consciously savour them – whether big or small. Let them linger, enjoy them…
  • Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself well: when we are naturally drawn to being kind to ourselves, the mind calms, we feel better and we can address difficulties more effectively.
  • Pursue your aims with curiosity, courage, generosity and forgiveness.

Ways to continue your practice

  • Free guided meditations and guided relaxation (yoga nidra) on this website
  • Regular courses with me on Zoom and in person
  • Weekly online meditation session with me
  • Consider taking a meditation retreat
  • Apps like Calm, Insight timer or Headspace

Resources

One day a fisherman was lying on a beautiful beach, with his fishing pole propped up in the sand and his solitary line cast out into the sparkling blue surf. He was enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun and the prospect of catching a fish.
About that time, a businessman came walking down the beach trying to relieve some of the stress of his workday. He noticed the fisherman sitting on the beach and decided to find out why this fisherman was fishing instead of working harder to make a living for himself and his family. “You aren’t going to catch many fish that way,” said the businessman. “You should be working rather than lying on the beach!”
The fisherman looked up at the businessman, smiled and replied, “And what will my reward be?”
“Well, you can get bigger nets and catch more fish!” was the businessman’s answer.
“And then what will my reward be?” asked the fisherman, still smiling.
The businessman replied, “You will make money and you’ll be able to buy a boat, which will then result in larger catches of fish!”
“And then what will my reward be?” asked the fisherman again.
The businessman was beginning to get a little irritated with the fisherman’s questions. “You can buy a bigger boat, and hire some people to work for you!” he said.
“And then what will my reward be?” repeated the fisherman.
The businessman was getting angry. “Don’t you understand? You can build up a fleet of fishing boats, sail all over the world, and let all your employees catch fish for you!”
Once again the fisherman asked, “And then what will my reward be?”
The businessman was red with rage and shouted at the fisherman, “Don’t you understand that you can become so rich that you will never have to work for your living again! You can spend all the rest of your days sitting on this beach, looking at the sunset. You won’t have a care in the world!”

The fishermanfrom folklore, maybe the Buddhist tradition