This week, for the formal practice, you will learn how to do sitting meditation, alternating this new technique with the already learnt body scan (sitting one day, doing body scan the next, etc.), as described in the Practice Log. For the informal practices, we introduce you to pleasant experiences and mindful eating. Enjoy!
We consciously adopt an alert and relaxed body posture so that we can feel relatively comfortable without moving, and then we reside with calm acceptance in the present without trying to fill it with anything. It helps a lot to adopt an erect and dignified posture, with your head, neck, and back aligned vertically. This allows the breath to flow most easily. It is also the physical counterpart of the inner attitudes of self-reliance, self-acceptance, and alert attention that we are cultivating.
We usually practice the sitting meditation either on a chair or on the floor, but laying down is also possible. Ultimately what really matters is the sincerity of your effort not how you sit.
When we have assumed the posture we have selected, we bring our attention to our breathing. We feel it come in, we feel it go out. We dwell in the present, moment by moment, breath by breath. Letting the breath just happen, observing it, feeling all the sensations, gross and subtle, associated with it.
If the mind wanders, we gently but firmly bring our attention back to the breathing and just continue to watch the breath, moment by moment. We are practicing accepting each moment as it is without reacting to how it is… By doing so you are training your mind to be less reactive and more stable. You are taking each moment as it comes, not valuing any one above any other. In this way you are cultivating your natural ability to concentrate your mind. By repeatedly bringing your attention back to the breath each time it wanders off, concentration builds and deepens, much as muscles develop by repetitively lifting weights. Working regularly with (not struggling against) the resistance of your own mind builds inner strength. At the same time you are also developing patience and practicing being non-judgmental. You are not giving yourself a hard time because your mind left the breath.
Mindfulness does not involve pushing thoughts away or walling yourself off from them to quiet your mind. We are not trying to stop our thoughts as they cascade through the mind. We are simply making room for them, observing them as thoughts, and letting them be, using the breath as our anchor or “home base” for observing, for reminding us to stay focused and calm.
Write down your thoughts in the Practice Log.
How many times during the day do you miss positive experiences because your mindless mind is somewhere else? One of the informal practices this week is about bringing you back to the present moment by becoming more aware of pleasant events and how you react to them.
Pay attention to pleasant experiences when they are taking place (e.g., seeing a beautiful tree, hearing a bird chirping, enjoying a nice conversation, having a hot shower, winning the lottery for the third time :-), etc.). Record your impressions in the Practice Log.
In addition to sitting meditation and pleasant experiences, you are invited to practice mindful eating, using the instructions below:
First, look at the food. Notice its color and texture.
Second, explore the food with your sense of smell. What do you notice?
Now, begin eating. No matter how small the bite of food you have, take at least two bites to finish it. Please chew slowly, noticing the actual sensory experience of chewing and tasting. You might want to close your eyes for a moment to focus on the sensations of chewing and tasting, before continuing.
Notice the texture of the food; the way it feels in your mouth. Notice if the intensity of its flavor changes, moment to moment.
Register your experience in the Practice Log.
Completed all assignments? Go to week 3.
If you want the Certificate of Completion, please send your Practice Log with the subject line "MBSR week 2".
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