Welcome! I am excited to start this journey and explore a new format for learning and connection. This is my first time leading this type of course and I welcome comments and feedback at any time. This course is arising out of a desire to apply the skills we already know more regularly into our lives. Many us of know why it is important to be mindful and we recognize the value in connecting with the life that is right in front of us. We want to be able to not always get lost in our emotional quicksand and see things for what they really are. But, with our busy lives, our constant e-connection, and our attention being pulled in 10 different directions at once, it is easy for us to get scattered, overreact and fall into old habits. My hope is that the format of this class will allow you to start (and maintain) a mindfulness habit that takes just a few minutes a day and permeates all that you do. I look forward to starting this journey.
This week, we will be doing some pre-work before diving into week one in the book. We will be discussing the course format and also working on some homework. If you would like to deepen your learning, this will also give you time to purchase the book and read chapters 1-4 (pages 1-66). I suggest supporting your local bookstore, buying the e-book or purchasing online:
Starting next week, for 8 weeks, I will have a printable sheet for you to check off the different areas of homework. These will include:
Daily Life Activity: Each week, you will choose an activity that you do every day (brushing your teeth, washing your hands, washing dishes, drinking tea or coffee, doing laundry, starting your car, etc). Whenever you complete this activity, bring all your attention to this activity and immerse yourself in it completely. When you are washing your hands, for example, chances are your mind is thinking about something else – planning your day, talking with someone, anything but washing your hands. The idea of this activity is to bring your attention to all the sensations of the present moment – feel the water flowing over your hands, inhale the scent of the soap, feel the slipperiness of the suds. You don’t have to slow the activity down, or even enjoy it, just be fully present and alive while you are doing it. Mindfulness doesn’t mean we are happy all the time, it just means we are present in the moment for whatever it brings.
Habit Releaser: Each week, you will be presented with a ‘habit releaser’. This course is focused on making us more aware our habits, and these tasks will help, and challenge you, to notice what your habitual patterns are. These include such things as changing the chair you normally sit in to examining your relationship to your TV.
Meditation: You will also be presented with a meditation to complete each week. Copies of these can be downloaded here. The authors suggest trying to complete these 6 out of 7 days. These range in time from 3-20 minutes. If your life is slightly insane, don’t sweat trying to make a 20 minute time commitment every day. Even a one-minute pause intentionally put into your day can make a difference. I’ve met some folks who are great meditators – they can sit quietly for 30-45 minutes every day, but once they are done, their lives come crashing back and they ramp right back up. It’s almost like they have an on/off switch, or like they have a wonderfully tended garden with a beautiful gate in one small area of their yard, but the rest of the yard is wild and overgrown. The idea I am proposing is trying to plant little seeds of mindfulness throughout your day – one minute here, one breath there. Rather than having one meticulously cultivated corner, bring the mindfulness in throughout your day in small doses. With time, the seeds grow and we can be prancing through an expansive beautiful field rather than frantically pushing through our life of crazy weeds to get to that one area of solace.
Gratitude practice: This is not included in the book as a formal practice, but will be explored in this course. You will be asked to complete a daily gratitude practice, either written or oral, each week.
That’s it! Each week, I will provide a summary of the reading for the week and provide a printout of the homework for you to complete. This week, there are just questions for you to journal about:
1. What is important about having a mindfulness practice be a part of your life?
2. What are your hopes for this course?
Please feel free to leave your answers, thoughts, and introductions in the comments section below!