Teacher: Patti Holland
Phone Number: 1-617-429-5930
Dates and Times: Thursdays, 6:00pm – 8:30pm (US Eastern Time)
Class Dates: July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, August 5, 12, 19
All Day Retreat: Sunday, August 1, 8:45am – 4:30pm (US Eastern Time)
Practice the body scan with the class recording at least 6 times this week. For Week 1, the focus of home practice is only the Body Scan.
Choose one routine activity in your daily life and make a deliberate effort to bring moment-to-moment awareness to that activity each time you do it, just as we did with the raisin awareness exercise. Possibilities include waking up in the morning, brushing your teeth, showering, drying your body, getting dressed, eating, driving, walking from your car or bus to office/school/home, and so on. Simply zero in on knowing what you are doing as you are actually doing it.
Eat one meal with full awareness. If this isn’t possible, try a snack or take the first 3-5 bites of your meal mindfully.
Practice the body scan with the class recording at least 6 times this week. For Week 2, the focus of formal practice home practice is the Body Scan.
At different times, practice 5-15 minutes of Focused Attention. Choose an anchor for your attention – sensations of breath, sound, body such as touch points of where your body meets a chair, feeling of hands resting on lap, etc. Practicing focused attention provides an opportunity to become aware of what it feels like to be connected and present in the moment without having to do anything.
Complete the Pleasant Events Calendar (one entry per day). Use this as an opportunity to become really aware of thoughts, feelings, and body sensations around one pleasant event each day. Notice and record, as soon as you can, in detail (e.g. use the actual words or images in which the thoughts came the precise nature and location of body sensations).
Continue to bring mindful awareness to a specific daily activity that you do on a regular basis.
This week, alternate practicing the Body Scan with the Mindful Movement practice. You may feel ready to move past the Body Scan! If so, try to practice this at least once this week.
Additionally, practice Focused Attention, either on your own without a recording for 10-15 minutes per day or with the brief recording that is available, for 6 days per week. Or, you can alternate Focused Attention with Mindful Walking.
Everyday, practice the 3-Minute Breathing Space 3 times per day. Practice one time with the audio recording, and then schedule two other times during the day to practice guiding yourself. It is good to schedule these times in advance. For example, you might choose to do this when you first begin your work or school day, and then again in the evening before or after dinner. Or during your lunch time or later in the afternoon, and then in the evening. This can support you in becoming familiar with this practice and making it part of your daily routines.
After you practice formally any of the above mindfulness practices (Body Scan, Mindful Movement, Focused Attention or Mindful Walking) – allow a few moments immediately following the practice to note how you are – check in with yourself. What do you feel and sense in the body? How about the state of the mind? Any emotions present? Also, notice if you find yourself thinking “I like this one/I don’t like this one”, “this was good practice”, “this was a bad practice, I’m bad at this”. Here, you are starting to notice preferences. Just because we don’t’ like something, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Our expectations (and desires) for things to be a certain way contributes to our evaluating experiences – and ourselves, as good or bad. Often in life, we find ourselves in situations where we have to engage in activities we have determined “we don’t like”. We realize we have expectations of how we want to be, or how we think others want us to be. See if you can bring interest and curiosity to the practice, Beginner’s Mind if you will.
Complete the Unpleasant Experiences Calendar (one entry per day). Use this as an opportunity to become really aware of the thoughts, feelings, and body sensations in one unpleasant event each day, at the time that they are occurring. Notice and record as soon as you can. Are there unpleasant events that “pull you off center” or “get you down” (no matter how big or small)?
This week, practice the Breath, Body, Sounds, Thoughts/Emotions -> Open Awareness guided meditation at least 5 days if possible. You may choose to alternate this meditation with Mindful Walking or another Mindful Movement (Lying Down or Standing Yoga movements), or the Body Scan. If you alternate practice, do see if you can practice the Open Awareness meditation at least 2-3 times.
This Open Awareness practice provides practice in observing thoughts as mental events or mental sensation. Observing thinking as sensations can provide an experience that helps one to see that thoughts are just thoughts and not necessarily true; It then becomes easier to defuse from thinking.
This practice is also more akin to how one might bring mindful awareness into daily life. When going through our days we are not focused on our breath per se, but we might have a capacity to notice and observe a wide array of sensations including thoughts, sounds, body sensations and our breath.
Continue to use the 3-Step (Minute) Breathing Space 3 times per day, at times that you have decided in advance.
Practice the 3-Step Breathing Space – Responsive, whenever you notice challenging sensations or emotions arising or present.
Alternate your daily practices. Practice with the Breath, Body, Sounds, Thoughts/Emotions to Open Awareness audio recording every other day, alternating with the Body Scan or Mindful Movement.
Continue to practice the 3-Minute Breathing Space 3 times per day at scheduled times.
Additionally, when you notice experiencing unpleasant or challenging sensations, thoughts or feelings, intentionally use the 3-Minute Responsive Breathing Space. You may choose to label or describe unpleasant thoughts, feelings or sensations, breath into and from the area of discomfort, tension or resistance. And when you expand your attention you can acknowledge what is already present, allowing the experience by saying “it’s OK….whatever it is….it’s already here.”
A word of caution with using the 3-Minute Breathing Space in this way. The intention is not to use this practice in attempts to fix or as an “escape hatch” – hoping for immediate relief (which can be very brief) before forging ahead with the rest of your day.
This is intended as an opportunity to bring awareness to what is going on at that moment, to notice and to step out of the routine you may have become caught up in, so that maybe you can relate differently to the difficulty arising. To respond differently.
Practice for a total of 20-40 minutes per day – your choice of practice, with or without guidance. You are beginning to design a regular practice for yourself going forward.
3-Minute Breathing Space – Continue to practice 3 times a day that you have determined in advance.
3-Minute Responsive Breathing Space – Whenever you notice unpleasant thoughts or feelings (paying particular attention to thoughts). As you notice and experience unpleasant or challenging thoughts or mood, acknowledging these “It’s okay, sadness (or whatever the mood is) is here. It’s okay, it’s already here”. Noticing body sensation, perhaps breathing into this area, softening. Holding a gentle curiosity and kindness towards your experience.
Working wisely with depression and anxiety – noticing early warning signs. Recognizing what is happening is the first step. This allows you to choose what, if any action you may take to support and take care of yourself.
From all of the different forms of formal mindfulness practice you have experienced (guided meditations, mindfulness of breath/body without guidance, etc.), settle on a form of practice that you intend to use on a regular, daily basis for the next 5 weeks. This could include combining practices such as doing some mindful movements for 10 minutes followed by focusing on your breath or another anchor for attention. Use this practice on a daily basis week and explore your experience with doing it regularly.
Continue to practice the 3-Minute Breathing Space 3 times per day at scheduled times.
Practice the 3-Minute Breathing Space plus Action whenever you notice unpleasant thoughts or feelings. You can ask yourself “What do I need right now?”.
Compete the Working Wisely with Unhappiness, Depression and Anxiety Worksheet
Endings are Beginnings…..