Below are resources for the topics we’ve discussed in our online drop-in classes. The resources are self-explanatory and you may find them helpful even if you didn’t attend that particular class.
There are also many other teachers offering free, online sessions to sustain us during this pandemic. You’ll find a list here.
Pausing in the Midst
When we find ourselves distracted or caught up in thoughts, the STOP practice can help us pause, even in the midst of every-day activities, by directing our attention in a clear, systematic way. This handout explains the four key steps.
Guided Meditation: Body Scan Meditation 35 minutes (Jane Mayers)
Cultivating Self Compassion
“The common healing element in both mindfulness and self compassion is a gradual shift toward friendship with emotional pain. Mindfulness says, “feel the pain”, and self compassion says, “cherish yourself in the midst of the pain”; two ways of embracing our lives more wholeheartedly.” Christopher Germer
Handout: Self Compassion Phrases
Guided Meditation: Finding Buddha Nature in the Midst of Difficulty (Jack Kornfield)
Cultivating Compassion for Ourselves and Others
“The more openhearted we are with ourselves the closer we feel with the rest of life. Self compassion is the foundation for kindness towards others…Self compassion opens us to the universality of suffering among living beings.” Christopher Germer
Working With Challenging Emotions
Allow by Dana Faulds
There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel. Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in –
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes
Nature as a Source of Inspiration, Strength and Stability in the Midst of Challenge
“In the lake meditation, we sit with the intention to hold in awareness and acceptance all the qualities of mind and body, just as the lake sits held, cradled, contained by the earth, reflecting sun, moon, stars, trees, rocks, clouds, sky, birds, light, caressed by the air and wind, which bring out and highlight its sparkle, its vitality, its essence.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
“In your meditation practice and in your daily life, can you identify not only with the content of your thoughts and feelings but also with the vast unwavering reservoir of awareness itself residing below the surface of the mind?” Jon Kabat-Zinn
The mountain reminds us that we might look upon some of the changes we are observing in our minds and bodies as internal “weather”. The mountain reminds us that we can remain stable and balanced in our sitting in the face of the storms of our own minds and bodies. Jon Kabat Zinn
Tuning In Through Our Senses to Life
“One of our greatest gifts is the ability to simply take time to appreciate and enjoy the world around us. Fine-tuning our ability to notice detail is an important skill of the artist and the writer. It is an important skill for everyone to enjoy! Every time you see something new, take a moment to really get to know the object with your eyes. Practice this technique on new things that you see. Take time to rediscover old, familiar objects.” Charles Ghigna
Video: Stop, Look, Go Practice
Stop pause take a breath.
Look with all your senses.
Go with the moment, give yourself completely to the moment.
Deepening our Sense of Gratitude and Appreciation
six blessings for everyday life as read by Br. David Steindl-Rast
by Jack Kornfield
Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal
from Robert Emmons
Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness: Non-Striving
“Are you stressed? Are you so busy getting to the future that the present is reduced to a means of getting there? Stress is caused by being “here” but wanting to be “there”, or being in the present wanting to be in the future. It’s a split that tears you apart inside. To create and live with such an inner spilt is insane. The fact that everybody else is doing it doesn’t make it any less insane.” Ekhart Tolle
“The best way to achieve your own goals is to back off from striving for results and instead to start focusing carefully on seeing and accepting things as they are moment by moment. With patience and regular practice movement towards your goals will take place by itself. This movement becomes an unfolding that you are inviting to happen within you.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
Guided Meditation: Body Scan Meditation 20 minutes (Jean Meier)
Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness: Acceptance
Acceptance means seeing things as they actually are in the present. In the meditation practice, we cultivate acceptance by taking each moment as it comes and being with it fully, as it is. We try not to impose our ideas about what we should be feeling or thinking or seeing onto our experience, but just remind ourselves to be receptive and open to whatever we are feeling, thinking or seeing, and to accept it because it is here right now.
Acceptance does not mean that you have to like everything or that you have to take a passive attitude toward everything and abandon your principles and values. It does not mean that you should tolerate injustice or avoid getting involved in changing the world around you because it is the way it is and therefore hopeless. Acceptance simply means that you have come around to a willingness to see things as they are. Jon Kabat-Zinn
Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness: Patience
Patience is an ever-present alternative to the mind’s endemic restlessness and impatience. Scratch the surface of impatience and you will find lying beneath it, subtly or not so subtly, is [frustration]. It’s the strong energy of not wanting things to be the way they are and blaming someone (often yourself) or some thing for it. Jon Kabat-Zinn
Guided Meditation: Sitting Meditation (Jean Meier)
Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness: Trust
Developing a basic trust in yourself and your feelings is an integral part of meditation training. It is far better to trust your own intuition and your own authority, even if you make some “mistakes” along the way, than to always look outside of yourself for guidance.
In meditation, we are practicing taking responsibility for being ourselves and learning to listen to and trust our own being. The more we cultivate this trust in our own being, the easier it becomes to trust other people more and see their basic goodness. Jon Kabat-Zinn
Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness: Non-judging
Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself (as you would toward a friend or a loved one) when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?
Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing ourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means we kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?
Guided Meditation: Self Compassion Break (Dr. Kristin Neff)
Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness: Letting Be (Letting Go)
When we start paying attention to our inner experience, we rapidly discover that there are certain thoughts and feelings that the mind seems to want to hold on to. Similarly, there are many thoughts and feelings that we try to get rid of or avoid experiencing, because they are unpleasant or painful or frightening.
In our meditation practice we intentionally put aside the tendency to elevate some aspects of our experience and to reject others. Instead we just let our experience be what is and practice observing it from moment to moment. Letting go is a way of letting things be, of accepting things as they are. When we observe our own mind grasping and pushing away, we remind ourselves to let go of those impulses on purpose, just to see what will happen if we do. When we find ourselves judging our experience, we let go of those judging thoughts. When thoughts of the past or of the future come up, we let go of those as well. We just watch.
As long as you are awake, you can be mindful. All it takes is wanting and remembering to bring your attention into the present moment. It means directly perceiving what you are attending to…When encountering each moment with awareness becomes more familiar to you, you will find that it is not only possible but even enjoyable to be in the moment, even with ordinary tasks such as washing the dishes. JKZ
“While it may be simple to practice mindfulness, it’s not necessarily easy. Mindfulness requires effort and discipline for the simple reason that the forces that work against our being mindful, namely, our habitual unawareness and automaticity, are exceedingly tenacious. They are so strong and so much out of our consciousness that an inner commitment and a certain kind of work are necessary just to keep up our attempts to capture our moments in awareness and sustained mindfulness. Buti it is an intrinsically satisfying work because it puts us in touch with many aspects of our lives that are habitually overlooked and lost to us.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
Video: Chi Gong
Mindful Listening and Empathy
“Our ordinary relationship to experience is to judge and control it. We react to experience by moving towards what’s pleasant and away from what’s unpleasant, judging the pleasant as good and the unpleasant as bad. Through mindfulness practice we find that this habit is not only futile but also stressful and exhausting. We waste a great deal of our energy chasing pleasure and resisting pain, trying to control things beyond our sphere of influence. The basic shift we make over and over again in formal meditation is to cultivate the intention to understand [clearly see] experience rather than judge or control it. The more we explore this in mindfulness practice, the more readily we can make this shift in our conversations and day to day lives…”
“So that’s what we want to practice in the meditation. We’re practicing seeing clearly what our own mind is doing, noticing judgments and coming back to pure direct experience. We practice bringing curiosity and care to whatever is happening, whatever our experience is during our meditation practice. The more we explore this in mindfulness practice, the more readily we can make this shift in our conversations and day to day lives.” Oren Jay Sofer
Guided Meditation: Observing with the Intention to Understand (Oren Jay Sofer)
Deepening Self-empathy in Difficult Situations
“Pain & suffering can block empathy. When we are mired in our own distress, it can be difficult to let empathy touch us, let alone listen to others or offer them empathy. Without ways to handle our own suffering, communication become increasingly challenging. Having empathy for ourselves increases our capacity to listen to others, whether or not they have the space to listen to us.” Oren Jay Sofer
Guided Meditation: Self Empathy (Oren Jay Sofer)