if not now, when?
Welcome to my Self-paced
You’re on the right page to find the class… just keep scrolling.
This is a self-paced introduction to mindfulness comprised of 4 short, sequenced steps to get you started. The steps grow out of years of teaching mindfulness on a University campus where people are really busy — and stressed. If this describes you, then keep reading.
You’ll find pre-recorded practices on four topics, answers to common questions and suggestions for immediately bringing mindfulness into your work, studies, relationships, and daily life.
If you are just getting started, this opens the door. If you have some experience, this can serve as a refresher.
I hope you enjoy and find support in these resources.
Here is a link to a nicely written article that has a well-written, balanced introduction to mindfulness — both formal meditation practice and it’s variations and also practices that can be used in daily life. It doesn’t overpromise and is encouraging. You might enjoy it.
“Your future is being created through the actions you take today.” — anonymous
Step One establishes steady, grounded awareness. From there we move on to Step Two to cultivate an attitude of openness & compassion. These two steps form the solid foundation of your mindfulness practice. Take a few days with each step as you practice. Then you can move on to Step 3 & Step 4 as you apply compassionate awareness to with simple, wholesome pleasure. And then as you learn ways to tolerate moments of emotional discomfort. I hope this gives you a good start. Enjoy!
Step 1: Your Mind is a Wonderful thing — use it well
The first step involves cultivating mindfulness involves working with your focus and awareness. You will learn that your mind is a cool, but complex thing. Our focus drifts and ruminates — and stresses us out. When we settle our focus, we the capacity to calm our nervous system and engage with delights in the present moment. Here are a couple of practices that cultivate awareness:
Next we want to take mindfulness off the meditation cushion and bring it to life. As you integrate mindful awareness into your activities and it will energize & enliven. We’ve focused on awareness in STEP 1: by slowing and dropping awareness into our bodies by noticing sensation. You can do this during any activity: Come Back to Your Senses!. Here are two ideas to prime your pump:
take a solo walk, silence your technology, and notice what catches your eyes. Look closely to see texture, and color, and lighting. When you get home, have a little fun and write a poem about it.
In any moment do a 1-2-3! What are three things you see? Two things you hear? And one thing you can touch? You just did a mindful, sense-based check-in!
STep 2: Acceptance is closer than you think
The second step invites us to drop the judging and cultivate acceptance and compassion. Most of us add stress as we try to perfect ourselves, criticize and judge others, and try to craft more or less ideal lives. Nothing wrong with self-growth and ambition but there is also much to be gained from moments of ‘letting things be’. In fact, research shows learning to ‘accept’ and ‘allow’ is the quickest path to stress reduction!! Here are a couple of meditations focused on acceptance.
Let’s bring acceptance into everyday life. The habit of judging and perfecting and resisting runs deeply so be patient with the ups and downs as you try to ‘let things be’ a bit more often. Here are a couple of ways you might practice more acceptance throughout your every day activities:
What you haven’t noticed
“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations”. ~ Michael J. Fox
Something in us softens and and commits to wholeness as we learn to let ourselves be. So in any moment when you sense judgement, criticism, or evaluation inside, try to also notice what is ‘ok’. Right here, right now. Look for even tiny pleasing aspects in this very experience. There almost always is something. Let yourself turn toward contentment regularly… it’s easy to lose sight of this.
Just Say Yes
The practice of acceptance is at its foundation a ‘just say yes’ practice. Yes to the things are in this moment. Our rejection of the moment is hard on us; it takes so much energy. We will often notice a ‘no’ arising when we are on the threshold of stretching our edges and acting or speaking more boldly or honestly or wanting to move toward our dreams. Or if we ar considering stepping away from toxic people or stepping into more of our own personal authenticity. Watch the moments you resist, harden, or avoid and see if there are small actions where you can find a little ‘yes’.
step 3: WHOLESOME PLEASURE IS THE MINDFULNESS LOTTERY …. The best free anti-depressant around!
The third step involves bringing acceptance up a notch. We first use the focus of STEP ONE to notice the small pleasures and joys in our lives. And then dial up the acceptance of STEP TWO to amplify the pleasure and beauty we experience small wholesome moments. We can include appreciation of other humans, pets, and places as well. This loving kind of practice helps us cultivate an open-heart that uplifts our emotional state. It’s free! Do it as often as you want. Here a couple of meditations on open-heartedness.
The Joy of Photography
It’s so easy to notice and invest energy in all the many dissatisfactions in our lives. We can lift ourselves from this habit by picking up a camera and taking shots of the small moments that please you. We can notice the beauty of texture, light, and color and take photos. We can capture little moments with people and pets. Don’t do this to share them or perfect them. Take them to come back to them and remember these wonderful little moments in your life. Everyday.
Savoring Your Morning Cup
Give yourself a little time in the morning (or any time of day!!) to enjoy the details of your morning cup. Do this in silence; not multi-tasking. Give yourself time to choose a favorite mug, feel the warmth and texture as your hold the mug to your nose and breathe in the smells. Take a slow sip and feel the warmth, taste the smoothness. How does it feel inside to get to experience this kind of simple pleasure? Mindfulness of pleasure is a great gift.
Step 4: we need to do hard things & feel hard things to grow. Here’s mindfulness a life vest!
The fourth step is probably the most challenging in some ways. It asks us to go against an ingrained habit of turning from or trying to change or deny or neutralize our emotional discomfort. That’s crazy talk, right??!! Well, as it turns out that folks who bring STEP ONE (attention) and STEP TWO (acceptance) to discomfort are able to hold tolerance for emotional pain and boost self-compassion. This alone is a relief. And it offers a little room to choose a purposeful response rather than reacting in the same old ways. The practice alters the brain to build resilience. With practice, we build a compassionate relationship with our difficult emotions and discouraging thoughts. Here are some meditations for hard emotion and thought.
Mindful of Music
Here is a simple reminder: you are able handle and even enjoy your full range of emotions! Most of us turn toward music and movies that activate sadness, fear, sorrow, or anger– at least sometimes. We are drawn to those stories and those feelings. Why? Because they are normal. So we can practice feeling these feelings by intentionally and mindfully listening to sad music. Listening carefully to the notes, the instruments, the lyrics and feel in your body the experience of this music. Do the same with joyful music. Breathe and know you are wired to handle and capable with all that you feel.
Be A Friend to Yourself
You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. ~Mary Oliver, Poet
Lots of times the physical moment by moment experience of our emotional life is not as painful as the pessimistic, critical, scary stories we tell ourselves about those feelings. So many of us ‘talk’ to ourselves in our heads, thinking things that we would NEVER consider saying to a friend. It can be a profound practice to cultivate inner dialogue that is kind in response to feelings of discomfort. “You are doing the best you can.” “This too shall pass. Breathe.” Watch what you say to yourself!
“To think in terms of either pessimism or optimism oversimplifies the truth. The problem is to see reality as it is. And meet it with unconditional kindness.” ~Thích Nhất Hạnh