Dukkhaboy

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Walking and Falling Mindfully

Laurie anderson

I’ve written about mindful walking previously both here  and here. But I was reminded of it again just recently. I was to be guiding some mindful walking last week and didn’t want to do so using the same old words, so I reread a bit of Jon Kabat-Zinn “Full Catastrophe Living” to improve my phrasing of and thinking about the practice. This was an excellent resource and indeed I read parts of it instead of my own guidance….

We carry our mind when we walk, so we are usually absorbed in our own thoughts to one extent or another. We are hardly ever just walking, even when we are “just going for a walk”. Usually we walk for a reason…..

Walking meditation involves intentionally attending to the experience of walking itself. It involves focussing on the sensations in your feet or in your legs…. It is an internal sensation that is being cultivated, just the felt sensations associated with walking, nothing more…. We are simply inviting ourselves to experiment in being where we already are in this moment, with this step and not get out ahead of ourselves. The trick is to be completely where we are, step by step.

But then he also said

In MBSR we tend to walk extremely slowly, so that we can experience the various aspects of the gait cycle, which is, when all is said and done, a continually controlled falling forward and catching oneself.

And I realised where I had heard those last words before. Laurie Anderson had said something very similar. And I love it when connections in my life fall into place. Like walking in one part of a big city and suddenly coming upon another part of the city you had always assumed was separate. But now in fact you understand is right next door. Suddenly both parts of the internal mind map just like the city map, make so much more sense seen side by side and joined together.

And yes I realise that maybe Laurie Anderson wasn’t thinking of the MBSR mindful walking practice or Jon Kabat-Zinn at all when she wrote this in the 70’s – to me that doesn’t matter anyway.

Walking and Falling lyrics

“I wanted you,
and I was looking for you,
but I couldn’t find you.
I wanted you,
and I was looking for you all day,
but I couldn’t find you.
I couldn’t find you.

You’re walking and you don’t always realize it,
but you’re always falling.
With each step, you fall forward slightly,
and then catch yourself from falling.
Over and over, you’re falling and then catching yourself from falling.
And this is how you can be walking and falling at the same time.”

 

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MBSR week 6 June 2018

 

TNH tea

Home Practice

This week with the whole day session as well the home practice is simpler.

1/ I would like you to alternate  the sitting practice with either the body scan practice or the lying down mindful movement. Choose one of the body scan or mindful movement to go with the sitting practice and stick with it for the week rather than juggle 3 practices. By now with the body scan you will be familiar with a guided practice that works better for you and I recommend staying with that one.  Click here to hear the one from Rebecca Crane I have linked before, while below is the one from Jon Kabat Zinn some of you have also been using.

There are more here as well.

2/ The lying down yoga practice I would like you to follow is here

 

3/ The sitting practice I would like you to follow can be found by clicking HERE

4/ The 3 step breathing space is a marvellous way of bridging formal practice and your daily life. Also it helps with noticing habitual stress reactions, whether you are using pro- or re-actively. Use this in relation to the stressful communication diary below if you wish.

 


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The Future of Mindfulness and Education

IMG_9155

It was a hell of a day. 800 of us at the Friends House in Euston London hearing teachers, academics, world renowned experts and pupils talk about mindfulness in their lives and their jobs; about mindfulness now, mindfulness in the past and mindfulness in the future. We were led in mindfulness practices by Jon Kabat-Zinn (@jonkabatzinn ), and also by 8 year old Maya guiding us in a practice. There were presentations about the theory and overview of mindfulness in education, about introducing it in your school, and about the effects of mindfulness on pupils themselves.

1/ Some overviews of the future of mindfulness and education

It was encouraging to learn from Chris Ruane MP (@ChrisRuane2017 ) that mindfulness has a foothold in Westminster; 185 MPs have received mindfulness training and there are  policy developments around mindfulness in education as well as the justice system and the work place. (you can read the mindful nation report here) He also made a link between how mindfulness can help pupils develop both the knowledge and skills that they will need in future life both for employment and their whole lives and that mindfulness and that surely it makes political and economic sense to invest more in it to partly address the issue of the 65 million antidepressants prescribed in the UK last year.

Rohan Gunatillake (@rohan21_awake ), creator of the Buddhify app, was fascinating on how mindfulness teachers need to avoid seeing digital revolution as the enemy. “If mindfulness is anything it is something that removes duality” And I thought about I might make better use of digital resources to help my students become introduced to and then continue using mindfulness after their course is complete. It was also an insight  to think about how mindfulness apps might work; if they are all about commodifying mindfulness into content and not wisdom just so they can keep us paying our monthly subscription then meditators and mindfulness practitioners are reduced to just another consumer. Rohan also touched on a point Jon Kabat-Zinn  returned to at the end – the danger that mindfulness will be reduced to just another luxury good accessible only to a small culturally and economically homogenised group of people.

I have already downloaded and started to read Katherine Weare’s report into “the evidence for mindfulness in schools for pupils and young people”. Click here to access it from the MiSP site. I would only oversimplify or misrepresent it if I wrote about it here.

Dr. Oren Ergas (@OrenErgas ) spoke about the future of mindfulness and education by the idea of reconstructing education through mindfulness attention. Whilst this is a distant aim for me and I suspect for most, I was really interested in what he said about how a pupil might go through her school day having her attention orientated by teachers to exclusively external matters. She would then be more likely to believe her own internal thoughts and feelings are of less value. This is a really important point to consider in the UK as the drive for a knowledge curriculum continues together momentum. You can find a link to his book on reconstructing education here.

2/ Some practical advice about mindfulness and education from teachers

I loved the ideas I heard even if I had to keep reminding myself to bear in mind the advice that this is a 1,000 year project.

Mrs Gotting (@MissSaryG ) and Jake gave me ideas about creating mindfulness prefects who get the job if they have vested a 100 day mindfulness challenge and running mindfulness assemblies led by the pupils (but getting the PTA to fund the cost of the minstrels needed for the mindful eating practice!)

Emma Naisbett gave me ideas about involving parents in mindfulness classes and how only by having mindfulness available and taught to staff AND pupils AND parents could you properly embed it in a school and its community.

Cathie Paine (@cathiepaine ) was both instructive and movingly honest: a CEO of, 60 primary schools she explained how mindfulness had helped her through dark professional and personal times (and I could relate to that) as well explaining the two main barriers preventing her rolling out mindfulness across her academy chain. These are that (i) there is no capacity for teachers to to take up any more initiatives (“as the only times the DfE phones me is to ask about OFSTED grades and KS2 results”) and (ii) money.

3/ Some opinions from pupils on the future of mindfulness and education

I am so thankful that Richard Burnett and all at MiSP did not just leave us with a one sided classroom picture of mindfulness. For to hear what pupils had to say about how it has changed their experience of education and hopefully the rest of their lives was not just inspiring, but the actual reason we had all gathered in the beautiful “light room” at Friends House, Euston in the first place.

Adam talked about how “when you have to sponge up so much [for your exams], it makes sense to stop and pay attention.” Jess explained how she was now better at not believing thoughts are facts or thoughts are her and she described how she had moved from extreme anxiety and 6 months in hospital to taking her GCSEs this summer. Jake described how he had taken on being a student mindfulness leader in his school. The year 4 pupils with Julie Berensten gave speeches on how mindfulness and the paws b program helped them worry less and sleep better. But it was Emily and Jo – mother and daughter – caught up in the Manchester bombing who moved me to tears as they described the almost unspeakable events at the arena that night and how their lives had been forever altered since.

please excuse the bits and pieces and incomplete record of the day, but I wanted to write down my thoughts right here and now the morning after, before they got lost in the maelstrom of school life next week. I will be trying to use mindfulness a bit more as the “WD40 of education” (Katherine Weare) and I will be thinking about Richard Burnett’s key question “Will mindfulness burn brightly here and there, but end up as a victim of poor implementation, fizzling out as just another teaching fad?” Whilst this is a complex question that needs to consider a wide range of opinions from parliament to the staffroom and the playground, in some ways I believe the best strategy to avoid this happening is simple; we as mindfulness enthusiasts, practitioners  and teachers need to start and finish by embodying what we preach.

If you wish more information on mindfulness in schools the website for MiSP is here

If you have any questions or comments please do add them via the comments below.

 

 

 


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MBSR week 5 June 2018

 

TNH tea

Home Practice

1/ This week I would like you to alternate  the sitting practice with either the body scan practice or the lying down mindful movement. Choose one of the body scan or mindful movement to go with the sitting practice and stick with it for the week rather than juggle 3 practices. By now with the body scan you will be familiar with a guided practice that works better for you and I recommend staying with that one.  Click here to hear the one from Rebecca Crane I have linked before, while below is the one from Jon Kabat Zinn some of you have also been using.

There are more here as well.

2/ The lying down yoga practice I would like you to follow is here

 

3/ The sitting practice I would like you to follow can be found by clicking HERE

4/ The 3 step breathing space is a marvellous way of bridging formal practice and your daily life. Also it helps with noticing habitual stress reactions, whether you are using pro- or re-actively. Use this in relation to the stressful communication diary below if you wish.

 

5/ Complete the stressful communication diary. This is set out as the (un)pleasant ones were. Use it as a chance to develop awareness of difficult communications and exploring options for responding with greater mindfulness, spaciousness and clarity.  always remember that the breath is your anchor and that the three step breathing space is available if you wish to use it. If you have no difficult communications during the week, either remember some, or imagine communications that would fit in to your knowledge of yourself, and explore them. Once more I have linked the hot cross bun diagram to help you if you wish to refer to it.

home practice Hot cross bun

6/ As ever I also attach a copy of the Mindfulness Journal if you prefer if you want to keep that. Practice Record sheet 

6/ Last week I read a poem by Rumi called the Guest House, which you can read here. The Guest House Rumi

This week I read “A Reply to Rumi” which was written by an MBSR participant called Amy Newell. You can read that here. A Reply to Rumi

I am looking forward to hearing all about it next Tuesday 🙂


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MBSR week 4 June 2018

 

TNH tea

Home Practice

1/ This week I would like you to alternate the body scan practice we have been doing with a lying down yoga practice. By now with the body scan you will be familiar with a guided practice that works better for you and I recommend staying with that one.  Click here to hear the one from Rebecca Crane I have linked before, while below is the one from Jon Kabat Zinn some of you have also been using.

There are more here as well.

2/ The lying down yoga practice I would like you to follow is here

 

3/ A written guide to starting a sitting practice is here . Sitting mindfulness practice checklist You should be becoming familiar with this now. Finding time to practice this for 10-15 minutes a day will greatly help your mindfulness

4/ The 3 step breathing space is a marvellous way of bridging formal practice and your daily life. Also it helps with noticing habitual stress reactions, whether you are using pro or reactively. Here is a lovely guided version of it if you wish to use from Mark Williams.

 

5/ During your days I would like you to be aware of your stress reactors: look for how you react when unpleasant situations arise. You dont need to write anything down about this , like we did last week. However if that helps you reflect on them, there is the same sheet you used last week linked here along with the hot cross bun diagram.

Unpleasant experience diary

home practice Hot cross bun

6/ As ever I also attach a copy of the Mindfulness Journal if you prefer if you want to keep that. Practice Record sheet 

6/ Here is a digital copy of the poem by Rumi I read at the end of the session. The Guest House Rumi

I am looking forward to hearing all about it next Tuesday 🙂


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MBSR week 3 May 2018

 

TNH tea

Home Practice

1/ This week I would like you to alternate the body scan practice we have been doing with a lying down yoga practice. By now with the body scan you will be familiar with a guided practice that works better for you and I recommend staying with that one.  Click here to hear the one from Rebecca Crane I have linked before, while below is the one from Jon Kabat Zinn some of you have also been using.

There are more here as well.

2/ The lying down yoga practice I would like you to follow is here

 

3/ Complete the unpleasant events table and/ or use the hot cross bun diagram to help you unpack your pleasant experiences. Digital links to these if you want another copy are below

Unpleasant experience diary

home practice Hot cross bun

4/ The step breathing space is a marvellous way of bridging formal practice and your daily life. It is definitely what I would call a portable practice. Here is a lovely guided version of it if you wish to use from Mark Williams

4/ also do keep if you can your Mindfulness Journal or maybe using this simple table if you prefer. Practice Record sheet 

5/ A written guide to starting a sitting practice is here . Sitting mindfulness practice checklist

6/ Here is a digital copy of the poem by Portia Nelson I read at the end of the session. Autobiography in Five Chapters poem

I am looking forward to hearing all about it next Tuesday 🙂


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Mindfulness and autopilot

This post is a collection of three simple practices to develop or maintain your mindfulness practice. These are:

  1. Sitting mindfulness practice
  2. Mindful walking
  3. 3 step breathing space

As a combination they are excellent in letting you see habits and patterns of the mind and how these can occur without you realising; in other words recognising when autopilot is on in your life. The mindful sitting is a formal practice and one for which you will need to find some time and a quiet space to practice. The mindful walking can be done as a personal practice away from your ‘everyday life’, but it can also be done as part of your everyday activities. If you want to notice autopilot for example, then you could use this when you are walking along a familiar route. You will notice a few glances if you do this in public mind you; most people find it odd that anyone should walk without a purpose and without wanting to get somewhere!

Finally the 3 step breathing space can help you be aware of your thoughts feelings and boy sensations at any time of the day. It is really beneficial to try to do this 3 or 4 times in a waking day.

There are some links below if you like to be guided in these practices, but I am also sharing some written assistance so you can complete these in silence if you prefer.

 

 

Below is a mind and body sitting meditation

 

Herre is a 3 step breathing space practice (called by its old name of 3 minute breathing space, but dont worry)

And here is the instructions/ introduction to walking mindfulness. Instructions for Mindful Walking

Here are some written guidelines

3 Step Breathing Space

 

Autopilot versus Mindfulness

Sitting mindfulness practice checklist

Good luck with all your practices!