Archive for ‘MBSR’

November 23, 2012

Event Info for “A Mindful Nation” Conversation Next Week (Newton, MA)

by mandy lipka

Do you feel it? The election took place only a couple of weeks ago. The lull in controversy and the end of the incredibly spiteful advertising offers great peace. No, the discussions aren’t over, but let’s take what we can get, shall we?

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April 16, 2012

Time Lost & Found

by mandy lipka

An MBSR classmate shared this great post by Anne Lemott on finding time. Take a look, share thoughts.

This is what I say: First of all, no one needs to watch the news every night, unless one is married to the anchor. Otherwise, you are mostly going to learn more than you need to know about where the local fires are, and how rainy it has been: so rainy! That is half an hour, a few days a week, I tell my students. You could commit to writing one page a night, which, over a year, is most of a book.

March 19, 2012

Week 8: The End!

by mandy lipka

To open our final class we started with a short silence a little standing yoga and then moved into a body scan. From there, we did a 20-min silent sitting meditation. And then A opened the floor for reactions about our last week of practice or how we were feeling today. She does a great job of keeping us at bay when we want to be talking about the “big stuff.”

Several of us shared how we literally take our practice with us — on the train, to the doctor for a long appointment, in the car. Others said they find solace in the idea of always being able to begin again (myself included). Some folks mentioned it’s much easier to integrate into their daily lives when they take 2-3 minutes to meditate a few times per day. And then others said being in the classroom feels like being at home. Those who attended other classrooms said they don’t have the same warmth or connectivity that we do and it comes as a concern. Will it still feel like home when we leave?

A moved us on to a guided reflection before we filled out our end-of-program forms. Once we finished, we got to take a look at our mid-course forms to compare. The difference was pretty surprising. For me, many of the symptoms I had been feeling disappeared. I’m now nearly symptom-less. In the beginning of class, I expressed a whole lot more judgment toward myself and that too melted away. I’m much more compassionate toward myself and others now. It feels great. Another test revealed that I was previously much more nervous and stressed, feeling like at times things were getting out of control, or that I was less on top of things. Now, I’m more secure, relaxed and present.

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March 10, 2012

MBSR: Week 7

by mandy lipka

Though many of us were dying to share our experiences from the retreat, we opened with a silent sitting meditation. As you can imagine, several folks felt the moments of silence was torture, while others experienced peace and comfort. A dear friend of mine in class described his experience in the retreat and in class as being like a moat. The moat is filled with thoughts and he used the breath as a vehicle to go deeper and pass over the water. Others described their thoughts throughout the day as nats. For me, it was quite peaceful. But I must admit, other people’s restlessness kept me alert. I did feel empathy for them especially as my own foot started to fall asleep, but I breathed through it. Practicing Loving-Kindness meditations we learned on the retreat helped, too.

A reminded us that this is a life-long practice and that it doesn’t just end with next week’s class. It’s too easy to forget, but we must pick up and start again. She then guided us into a quick reflection on the retreat before we moved into pairs to discuss and practice “committed listening.”

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March 5, 2012

MBSR: All-Day Retreat

by mandy lipka

What an exciting day! Luckily, I found a spot near some familiar faces in a sea of about nearly 200 strangers.

The agenda was as follows:

  • Opening meditation (8-15 min)
  • Standing yoga
  • Full body scan
  • Walking meditation
  • Sitting meditation
  • Walking meditation
  • Image meditation (mountain)
  • Reflecting meditation (perfect biscuits)
  • Lunch (1 hr)
  • Walking meditation (more random/faster pace/ended with big clump in center of room)
  • Loving kindness meditation (To: you, benefactor, loved one, neutral person, difficult person, the room, all beings)
  • Attention to detail and big picture (hand to room to outside)
  • Peer-to-peer discussion
  • Group discussion
  • Silent meditation
  • Full circle – end with one word
March 2, 2012

MBSR: Week 6

by mandy lipka

The class opens with standing yoga to wake us up and then we move to a 45-50 min meditation, our longest to date. Before we dive into our reactions, A let’s us know after reading our mid-course evaluations that the teachers purposely do not assign any reading or provide and specific background info so that students rely on themselves. I actually provided that feedback myself in the evaluation that it surprised me to not have been given any history or background on John Kabat-Zinn. We hadn’t so much as talked about any modern discussions like the recent New York Time’s piece on mindful eating. A says thoughtfully, We want you to read your own life experience, very directly.

Reflecting on the last week of practice, folks discussed mindful driving and how it combats monotonous drives. Some even turned off the radio and focused on breathing. Though we are instructed not to listen to the CDs in the car, one classmate admitted to it and mentioned he enjoyed the guide and then letting go during long periods of silence. Not filling ever moment with media was refreshing, he recalled.

This is exactly how we translate our practice into everyday life. Another classmate recalled the experience in her own classroom. Even her kids noticed her change in disposition, her increased attentiveness, and in turn, they became more engaged. Another classmate recalled a very upsetting moment during the week when she thought someone had broken into her home. The cops showed up, the dog was frightened and she just couldn’t seem to access her mindfulness practice in the moment. Regardless, to calm herself down after all the commotion, she listened to the guided meditation. This helped calm her fight or flight response to the threat allowing her to fall asleep soundly that night.

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February 28, 2012

MBSR: Week 5 – Halfway!

by mandy lipka

Tonight was the halfway mark in our course. And as you can imagine, this gave us pause for reflection. So A opened the evening with an awareness of breath sitting meditation. This time, I noticed much less tension in my face, though I still had thoughts about my current relationship, some about seeing an old friend and teeny bit of work.

Reflecting on our progress

A followed this meditation with a guided reflection on our progress– are we worried about the time we’re putting into our practice? Are we judging our practice? Are our thoughts the same? Before leading us into our minds, A emphasized the idea that growth isn’t linear, something that really spoke to me. She asked if we are open to recommitting to our practice and to losing judgment, to losing expectations. All of this sounded good to me and as I reflected on my first half of practice, I lost the judgment and embraced positivity toward the second half.

I did think I would be more disciplined in my practice, as I told a classmate, so I promised myself that in the second half and beyond, I would recomit. It seemed to be a trend in the room, despite knowing time and life events aren’t an excuse. One classmate explained, it feels more effective when it’s a constant and another made it a goal to incorporate into job with a new start.

Despite my own judgments on the consistency of my practice, I’m learning it’s working. I’ve had several life events in the last few weeks that have tested my work. My reactions are incredible different. I’m pausing, breathing and reflecting instead of giving my knee-jerk thoughts or feelings. I feel much more in control of my emotions this way. And I know I want to make this more a part of my life journey than a hobby. I do have my preferences– yoga as no surprise is my favorite for the mind/body combo and my least favorite is the body scan. I also seem to meditate at odd times. Like while I’m reflecting on the train or walking in the city. Regardless, it’s all part of my progress.

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February 20, 2012

MBSR: Week 4

by mandy lipka

We opened the class with a light standing stretch. It felt great after a vigorous yoga practice and a stressful day at work. Then we moved into a silent sitting meditation which lasted ~30 minutes. At first, I felt the immediate effects of drinking coffee shortly before class– it felt as though my heart would jump through my chest as my breathing intensified. During my meditation, I had this awful tickle in my throat and then had to sneeze. In preventing panic, I dreamt of grabbing my water bottle to relieve my throat but knew I’d disturb someone. In an effort not to “cheat,” I managed to breathe the tickle and sneeze away. Once I conquered that and felt like I was on top of the world, I realized that my thoughts started to jump and caused tension in my face. This was a first. I kept having to check-in and relax my face when A’s guidance triggered a thought (often about my current relationship). It felt very familiar to what my best friend and I call savasana brain after a wild yoga practice— that heavy, foggy mind.

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February 13, 2012

MBSR: Week 3

by mandy lipka

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it ’til your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to mail letters

and purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

it is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere like a shadow or a friend.

– Naomi Shibab Nye

By now, folks are starting to feel more as they develop their practice. The above quote is a nod to keep going. We may not like what we see, but to see it is the important part.

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