Homework

Our Social Connections — Investigating How We Define Our Relationships Right Now

To begin, let’s invite our curiosity to be present as we read six statements* that give us information about the health of our social connections now and show us where we can build skill. For each statement, answer how often you engage in the behavior using the following scale:

1—None of the time
2—A little of the time
3—Some of the time
4—Most of the time
5—Every time

Here are the statements:

When I make decisions involving other people, I consider their best interests.

I care about the problems of people all over the world.

I want all people to be happy, including people I don’t like.

I like all the people I see day-to-day.

I actively take time to appreciate positive things about the people I see day-to-day.

I believe that most people are doing the best they can.

*The statements and scale are borrowed from The Healthy Mind Institute of which Richard Davidson is the Director.

Let’s Investigate Paying Attention to Attention

The ultimate source of a happy life is the attention we pay to our inner values

The Dali Lama

This week let’s investigate. Let’s pay attention to attention. Take some time to investigate what in your life is degrading the performance of your attention by asking yourselves these little questions:

— Are your values aligned with your behaviors? When you are doing an action or behavior, does it feel right?

— Are you making up stories and getting caught up in the story and editorializing? Are you judging and forming opinions all the time?

— Are you stuck in the future worrying about catastrophes, disasters or negative outcomes that haven’t even happened?

— Are you overly focusing on negative mind states and emotions? If you feel unsatisfied, disheartened, sad, angry, or afraid are you holding these with equanimity noting their feeling tone, “unpleasant, unpleasant” or are you getting caught in feeling bad?

— Are you perceiving threats that are not present? These may be physical threats to your safety and well-being or these may be threats to your moral compass (what feels right or skillful and what feels wrong or unskillful).

Investigating our habits helps us to know our minds and to pay attention to what’s here, right now.

Before We Begin — October 2020

Welcome to Mindfulness Meditation — A Four Class Series. Before we begin, for those of you who are new to Mindfulness Meditation and for those of you who would like a refresher, here are 3 short audio recordings. Each one contains a little talk and a short practice to help get you started. Enjoy!

This first little talk tells us what Mindfulness is and then we get to practice for a short while.
This second little talk shows us how simple it is to do Mindfulness Meditation. It tells us how we focus our attention on the breath, how our mind will wander away from the breath, and how when we notice that our mind has wondered, we return our attention to the breath. It tells us that this is it. We focus, the mind wanders, we notice, and we return our attention. And teaches us how to use the simple tool of mental noting. A short practice follows.
This third little talk is about how what we do when we meditate is to observe our minds without getting carried away with all our mind’s activity. It gives us the metaphor of the waterfall to help us see what we mean when we say “observing the mind.” A short practice follows , in which we focus on the breath and when a bodily sensation comes that grabs our attention we shift our focus of awareness to the sensation. When the sensation passes from predominance we return our attention to the breath. In this way, the breath becomes our anchor.

Building Resilience with the Heart Practices

To begin our exploration of the heart practices or Brahmaviharas as they are called in the original Pali, I invite you to listen to the short audio talk below. In the talk, I provide some context and a basic understanding of these four forms of love. Each week, during the next four weeks, we will explore one form: Lovingkindness, Compassion, Appreciative Joy, and Equanimity. Thank you for joining me.

Four Faces of Love Class: Week Four – Equanimity :

Some words from the writer Goethe…”I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated and a person is humanized or dehumanized.”

Four Faces of Love Class: Week Three–Appreciative Joy

A Poem to Read and Share: Written While Running by Mark Nepo

Sometimes I move so fast it hurts.

Though the things coming at me

are not moving at all.

They are soft and inviting. It’s

approaching them as if they will

vanish that makes them sharp.

Running into any point

makes it a knife.

Excepted from Reduced to Joy by Mark Nepo, Viva Editions, Start Publishing LLC, 2013.

Homework for Week Four: June 8 and Onward

This is our final class today. Your meditation practice is just beginning. I hope that you will continue your practice; grow it and nurture it. It will change your life. It will bring you well-being in the midst of diffculty and perspective in moments of happiness.

This week the guided meditation is on Mindfulness of Thoughts.You will find it here or on the Meditations tab.

I have also included a guided Walking Meditation. You will find it here or on the Meditations tab on the Homepage.

If you would also be so kind, complete the Course Feedback Form and return it to me by Monday, May 11 either by photographing your completed copy and emailing it to me or by returning it to me via snail mail. Text me for the address. The form is below. I appreciate your feedback and support. Thank you!

Homework for Week Three: June 1 – June 7

This week there are lots of choices. Each day practice meditation.

You may practice either of the new meditations on Mindfulness of Emotions that you’ll find on the Meditations tab, right here

Or, you may practice any of the meditations that have been previously published on this same tab, right here

Or, you may practice Many Mindful Moments three-to-five times a day. Perhaps on waking in the morning, after morning coffee, at lunch time, in the later afternoon, and before sleeping at night.

Do the Mindful Moments like this. Settling into the body. Relaxing tight areas of the body. Paying attention to the breath for a few moments. Noticing what’s present in the moment by asking inwardly, “What’s happening now.” Noticing if there is an emotion present. Recognizing and relaxing into what arises. Sensing how it feels in the body. Sensing where you feel it in the body. Noting the feelings with a word or two. Reminding yourself that the experience arising is not you. Giving thanks for being present!

Homework for Week Two: May 18 – May 25

This week you have a choice of meditations to practice daily. You may practice the same meditation every day, or you may do a different meditation every day or every few days. Continue to do your meditation after the prompt you chose last week if that’s working for you. If it is not, choose another. You may need a different prompt for the weekend when your daily routine changes from your weekday one.

If you need a refresher on choosing prompts go here

Choose a Guided Meditation on Mindfulness of the Body. You will find it here or on the Meditations tab on the homepage.

Choose A Guided Meditation on Mindfulness of The Breath. You will find it here or on the Meditations tab on the homepage.

Choose A Guided RAIN Meditation. You will find it here or on the Meditations tab of the homepage.

This Guide to RAIN is a helpful read before doing the RAIN practice.

Homework for Week One: May 11 – May 17

There are two parts to our homework this week. Please forgive my wordiness; it is just that there is so much rich info to share with you as we get started.

Part 1: Please read “About Meditation.” You will find it here.

The information on this page will help you make a habit of doing mindfulness meditation every day.

Meditation is an ancient practice that has continued for thousands of years. Early on, in Asia as in the West, meditation was mostly practiced by monks and nuns whose daily schedules were set for them according to monastic rules. They didn’t have to ask themselves “When do I do my meditation?”  or “How do I fit meditation into my busy day?”

Today, we do have to ask and answer these questions if mindfulness meditation is going to do us any good. There is a saying, where our attention goes, our energy follows. So, if we put our attention on doing meditation, we’ll have the energy to do it.

So how do we put our attention on doing our daily meditation? BJ Fogg, a behavior researcher at Stanford University, is here to help us all. I have learned from him and now am sharing what I have learned from him with you.

Follow the recipe and voila before long, meditation is as automatic as brushing your teeth in the morning.

Part 2: Every day, do the guided mindfulness of body meditation that is located here or on the Meditations tab of the homepage. It takes about six minutes.

Enjoy your mindfulness practice and don’t forget to celebrate each day!