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Using Williams & Penman's book "Mindfulness: a practical guide" as a self-help resource - overview of 10 supporting blog posts

Earlier this year I wrote a sequence of ten blog posts to support people working their way through Mark Williams & Danny Penman's fine book  "Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world" as a self-help training in mindfulness practice.  I've referred lots of people to these posts and it's a bit messy finding them as they are strung out over many weeks.  Here are links to the ten posts organized into one place:

"Using Williams & Penman's book "Mindfulness: a practical guide" as a self-help resource (1st post) - introduction" - this is the first in the series of posts about using Mark Williams & Danny Penman's excellent recent book "Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world" as a self-help training in mindfulness practice. My hope is that these blog posts will provide some back-up resources to the many good things already present in the book, accompanying CD & linked website.  I talk too about why there are good reasons to be optimistic about the benefits we can achieve with this kind of self-help venture.

"Using Williams & Penman's book "Mindfulness: a practical guide" as a self-help resource (2nd post) - getting ready" - this post makes a series of initial practical suggestions about how you can prepare well and as get much value as possible from using the book & its exercises.

"Using Williams & Penman's book "Mindfulness: a practical guide" as a self-help resource (3rd post)  - first week's practice" - we are now at chapter five of the book - "Mindfulness week one: waking up to the autopilot".  It's time now to roll up our sleeves and get going on the actual meditation practice.  I add some additional comments about posture, relaxation and our sense of self.

"Using Williams & Penman's book "Mindfulness: a practical guide" as a self-help resource (4th post)  - second week's practice" - this post adds to chapter six in the book - "Keeping the body in mind".  The post provides the usual reflection & record sheet options and also gives more information about the body, will power, appreciation, and physical exercise.

"Using Williams & Penman's book "Mindfulness: a practical guide" as a self-help resource (5th post) - third week's practice" - here we look at the third week's practice described in chapter seven "The mouse in the maze". The authors state "Week three builds on the previous sessions with some non-strenuous Mindful Movement practices based on yoga. The movements ... help the mind to continue the process of re-integrating with the body."  We also explore the whole issue of happiness & "positive"/pleasant emotions a bit more too.

"Using Williams & Penman's book "Mindfulness: a practical guide" as a self-help resource (6th post)  - fourth week's practice" - this post is about chapter eight - the fourth week of actual meditation practice - entitled "Moving beyond the rumour mill" (pp. 134 to 158). In their week-by-week overall summary of the whole programme (pp. 58 to 60), Mark & Danny write "Week four introduces a Sounds and Thoughts meditation that progressively reveals how you can be sucked unwittingly into 'over-thinking'. You'll learn to see your thoughts as mental events that come and go just like sounds. By meditating on the sounds around you, you'll come to learn that 'the mind is to thought what the ear is to sound'." I really like this aphorism - "The mind is to thought what the ear is to sound." ... And another aphorism from this wise & helpful chapter - "The experienced meditator is not someone whose mind does not wander, but one who gets used to beginning again". Great ... and this supporting blog posts explores the central issue of rumination still further. 

"Using Williams & Penman's book "Mindfulness: a practical guide" as a self-help resource (7th post)  - fifth week's practice" - we're now at chapter nine - the fifth week of meditation practice - "Turning towards difficulties" (pp. 159 to 182). In their week-by-week programme summary (p. 59), they write "Week five introduces a meditation - Exploring difficulty - that helps you to face (rather than avoid) the difficulties that arise in your life from time to time. Many of life's problems can be left to resolve themselves, but some need to be faced with a spirit of openness, curiosity and compassion. If you don't embrace such difficulties, then they can increasingly blight your life."  Again this relatively brief chapter explores major psychological themes, especially around approach & avoidance, which the supporting blog post adds to.

"Using Williams & Penman's book "Mindfulness: a practical guide" as a self-help resource (8th post) - sixth week's practice" - here is the sixth week of practice and chapter ten "Trapped in the past or living in the present?" (pp. 183 to 208). The week-by-week programme summary comments "Week six develops this process (turning towards difficulties) even further, exploring how negative ways of thinking gradually dissipate when you actively cultivate loving-kindness and compassion through a 'Befriending Meditation' and acts of generosity in daily life. Cultivating friendship towards yourself, including for what you see as your 'failures' and 'inadequacies', is the cornerstone of finding peace in a frantic world."  This issue of increasing kindness to ourselves and others is really a key one in encouraging the best changes to emerge from this meditation training.  The supporting blog posts gives a fair amount of additional information to build on this work.

"Using Williams & Penman's book "Mindfulness: a practical guide" as a self-help resource (9th post) - seventh week's practice" - we're now at chapter eleven of the book "When did you stop dancing?" (pp. 209 to 235).  The week-by-week programme summary (p. 60) comments "Week Seven explores the close connection between our daily routines, activities, behaviour and moods. When we are stressed and exhausted, we often give up the things that 'nourish' us to make the time for the more 'pressing' and 'important' things. We try to clear the decks. Week Seven focuses on using meditation to help you make increasingly skilful choices, so that you do more of the things that nourish you, and limit the downsides of those things that drain and deplete your inner resources. This will help you to enter a virtuous circle that leads to greater creativity, resilience and the ability to enjoy life spontaneously at it is, rather than how you wish it to be. Anxieties, stresses and worries will still come, but they are more likely to melt away as you learn to meet them with kindness."

"Using Williams & Penman's book "Mindfulness: a practical guide" as a self-help resources (10th post) - eighth week's practice" -  this post looks at the final session of the Williams & Penman course, described in chapter twelve (pp. 236 to 249) - "Your wild and precious life". This phrase is taken from Mary Oliver's stunning poem - "The summer day". The week-by-week course programme summary (p. 60) simply says "Week Eight helps you to weave mindfulness into your daily life, so that it's always there when you need it the most."  

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