Formal practice can be done in stillness or in motion. While it's easier to "go deep" in stillness, practicing in motion is very useful because it helps you to remain more mindful during your daily life, where stillness is not possible most of the time. You're learning how to work more skillfully with any type of internal experience (i.e., mental images, mental talk, and emotions) regardless of circumstances. For the formal practice this week, you can choose between mindful yoga and mindful qigong (or try both during the week if you prefer!). Informal practices include unpleasant experiences and awareness of judging.
Mindful Yoga 1 or Qigong 1
The practice of mindfulness in motion is the practice of unifying body and mind, which really means penetrating into the experience of them not being separate in the first place. Your body language is influenced by your attitudes and feelings and vice versa: your attitudes and feelings can be changed just by changing your physical posture. Yoga and Qigong can help you to experience this in a consistent manner.
Lookout for the many ways, some quite subtle, in which your perspective on your body, your thoughts, and your whole sense of self can change when you adopt different postures on purpose and stay in them for a time, paying full attention from moment to moment.
If you have physical limitations it's important to know that you are free to modify any of the practices to make them best work for you. If you have serious physical limitations it is sufficient to simply vividly imagine doing the movements.
Write your impressions in the Practice Log for week 3.
The past week we asked you to notice pleasant experiences. Now we ask you to become more aware of how you experience unpleasant events. Why? Because it's an important step towards developing equanimity. While it's ok to prefer positive experiences to negative ones, it's not ok to react with too much aversion or clinging to experiences, due to increased self-inflicted suffering. A mindful and equanimous mind meets any event (positive or negative) without "push and pull". It takes time to become very equanimous but you can notice the benefits relatively quickly.
Apply your mindfulness to negative experiences with a gentle attitude. An unpleasant event might be a mosquito flying nearby, for instance, or being mildly annoyed by what a politician says. Be open and curious. You may discover something unexpected about how you react to negative events.
If, at the end of the day, you honestly can’t find any unpleasant experience (lucky you!), you can take this time to celebrate that fact and write it down in your Practice Log. Deliberately searching for unpleasant experiences and not finding anything is awesome, and you should take time to experience gratitude, an informal practice that we introduced during the first week.
Awareness of Judging
It's not uncommon for people to negatively judge themselves, others, and the world without being aware of how frequently this can happen. Practicing awareness of judging, without getting caught in or being driven by the judging is a very useful skill to develop equanimity towards negative mental talk.
At least twice this week, use the Practice Log questions to identify and explore negative judgments you have made. The goal is simply to be more mindful and equanimous. Avoid criticizing yourself.
If you have completed the tasks for this week, feel free to go to week 4.
Please remember to send your Practice Log to receive your Certificate of Completion.
Subject line: "MBSR week 3".
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