6 week mindfulness and
self-compassion course

16 October – 20 November 2019 at the Life Centre, Islington

Week 6
Awareness in daily life

Key learning

Listening and speaking – adding intention to your communication

Maintaining a mindful life – sustain your wellbeing and self-nourishment

Cultivating gratitude and curiosity

PRACTICE DOWNLOADS
Right click the link and choose 'Save Link As...' to download an mp3 file.
  • Long practice recording
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. 
  • 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.
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Pursue your aims with curiosity, courage, generosity and forgiveness. 
  • Pursue your relationships with others in the same way.
  • Listen with awareness and speak truthfully. 
  • Set aside time for formal practice as often as you can – a routine can be helpful.
  • Practice in a group 
  • Give attention to routine events: eating meals, walking, brushing teeth, etc.
  • Simplify your life
  • Practice gratitude
OTHER HELPFUL INFO

The human body, at peace with itself, is more precious than the rarest gem.
Cherish your body, it is yours this one time only.
The human form is won with difficulty, it is easy to lose.
All worldly things are brief, like lightning in the sky;
This life you must know as the tiny splash of a raindrop;
A thing of beauty that disappears even as it comes into being.
Therefore set your goal and make use of every day and night to achieve it.

JeTsongkapa
Week 5
Connection to ourselves and others

Key learning

Relating to ourselves with compassion

Bringing mindfulness into our personal and work relationships: kindness, compassion, forgiveness

Working with difficult relationships

PRACTICE DOWNLOADS
Right click the link and choose 'Save Link As...' to download an mp3 file.
EXPLORE INFORMAL PRACTICES DURING THE WEEK
  • Encourage mindful walking – grounding, trusting the present as support for our experience. 
  • Tune into the vitality and strength in your body and the way the breath has a strength on its own. Then bring to mind this strength in challenging situations.
  • Practice forgiving yourself and others.
OTHER HELPFUL INFO

Gather your selves: critical and kind,
scared and brave, thoughtless and hurt.
Mistakes and failures meet accomplishments.
Like loss and love, they are a package.
Embrace it all.
Such a coming together is what we came for.

A Love StoryJeanie Greensfelder
Week 4
The negativity bias and
how to create a positive outlook

Key learning

Making choices: Respond skilfully rather than react impulsively

The neuroscience of happiness

Effects of meditation on the brain

PRACTICE DOWNLOADS
Right click the link and choose 'Save Link As...' to download an mp3 file.
EXPLORE INFORMAL PRACTICES DURING THE WEEK
  • Introduce short mindful pauses particularly in situations that cause stress: Commuting to work, meetings at work, a difficult conversation, etc.
  • Treat yourself well
  • Noticing pleasant experiences in daily life and consciously savour them – whether big or small. Let them linger, enjoy them… 
OTHER HELPFUL INFO

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 fisherman
Week 3
Thoughts aren’t facts:
understanding stress and suffering

Key learning

Noticing thought patterns, habits and patterns of reactivity

The impact of stress on health and wellbeing

What to do when things get difficult

PRACTICE DOWNLOADS
Right click the link and choose 'Save Link As...' to download an mp3 file.
EXPLORE INFORMAL PRACTICES DURING THE WEEK
  • Notice unpleasant experiences in daily life and how mind and body respond.
  • Care for yourself – use simple soothing techniques and ways to support the parasympathetic nervous system when things get difficult: self-massage, a few deep breaths, run warm water over hands, hug yourself (or someone else 🙂 )
OTHER HELPFUL INFO

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.

A guesthouseJalaluddin Rumi
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

PRACTICE DOWNLOADS
Right click the link and choose 'Save Link As...' to download an mp3 file.
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.
  • Write a practice diary.
OTHER HELPFUL INFO

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 1
Moving out of autopilot
Waking up to presence

Key learning

What is mindfulness? What are the benefits? Where does it come from?

Living on autopilot – the default mode network

Arriving in presence

Establishing a personal practice

PRACTICE DOWNLOADS
Right click the link and choose 'Save Link As...' to download an mp3 file.
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
OTHER HELPFUL INFO

If I Had My Life to Live Over
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-gorounds. I would pick more daisies.

Nadine Stair, 85 years old