Mindfulness Group: Week by Week Update

Part One


Week One

We did introductions and got to know one another. Thank you for being so open-hearted, truly.

We covered the ground rules including:

  • Everything said in the group is confidential
  • Avoid cross-talk and advice-giving, respecting what is said
  • No requirements for sharing, but we would like to hear your experiences, always
  • If you want mindfulness to work: 
    • ask for help (from me or the group), this is one of the benefits of working with a group! As Anne Lamott says: “My mind is like a bad neighborhood—I’d rather not go there alone.” 
    • Practice 10 minutes a day (at least)
    • Give up striving, and accept the way things are...you can't do mindfulness wrong
  • The video we listened to explains everything. They talk so fast, I suggest rewinding it again and again. (Click on the "CC" button to see the captions on the video. If there's a red line under the "CC" button, it's already on.)
  • We talked about the difference between Meditation vs Mindfulness. Meditation is a formal practice of sitting (usually) for a certain time. Mindfulness is an informal practice while driving, walking, cleaning, standing in line, for example.
  • We practiced the Body Scan for the first time as a group. (See the 2nd video below for an example.)

Your history is here inside your body.
Your body is your storehouse
Of learnings, feelings,
Thoughts, and experiences.
Only waiting to be invited to
Reveal your treasures to yourself.
Help yourself.
As you let the learning emerge
And take shape, you can
Appreciate the wisdom of the body.
Each cell alive with
Spirit, emotion, and intelligence.
Ready to help you at any moment,
Always with you and for you.
--Martha Elliot


Week Two

We started off reflecting on your homework and we heard some wonderful stories!

Followed by the Breathing Meditation. This is the most simple (not easy) meditation there is. Here's an example by Stop Breathe and Think, which is an app. They offer many free meditations in addition to what you have to pay for. 

We talked about emotions, which are classified into the "bad" (fear, anxiety, and unworthiness) and the "good" (joy, gratitude and contentment). I suggested that pushing away the bad in order to make room for the good is NOT mindfulness. Instead, mindfulness is about being present with your emotions just as they are: 

  • Without storytelling
  • Without predicting the future
  • Without re-hashing the past

AND, the brain has a negativity bias because of the way it developed, or put another way: Velcro for the bad/Teflon for the good.

  • Reptile – Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm
  • Mammal – Limbic system, focused on approaching rewards
  • Primate – Cortex, focused on attaching to “us”

To counter this, we need to remind the brain all the time that it is safe, through mindfulness and “taking in the good.”


Week Three

We talked about some challenges (which are VERY common, I can assure you!)...specifically, sleepiness. Some thoughts:

  • When you sit down to meditate and sleepiness overtakes you, it could be you need to take a nap. Honor that!
  • If it's at a time that you would not usually be tired, try something else as your focus for your meditation. Some examples: sounds, walking, eating, driving in silence, listening to music.
  • It is a practice, and just as anything new, it can lead you to encounter some challenges. That means it's working!   

And the (free!) app I used for the bells in group: Insight Timer.

We focused on Self-Compassion

  • My definition of self-compassion: Being a friend to yourself
  • Most of the time, we don’t even know how mean we are to ourselves…judging, shame-filled, always looking for ways to escape through our “easy buttons”, whether it’s TV, shopping, helping others before you are filled up, or even "good" things like self-improvement can be used to beat up on yourself, if you're not mindful.
  • Kristen Neff pioneered the self-compassion movement:

Your homework is to come with an example of self-judgment in daily life, notice it, and do something kind for yourself. Here are the handouts. And the poem.

We ended the group with a poem:


Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now.

by David Whyte, from the book Where Many Rivers Meet