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Compassion, wisdom & wellbeing training: 5th session home practice

These home practice suggestions link with the fifth session of the Compassion, wisdom & wellbeing training.  There are seven requests for this next week.  

1.)  Please would you glance back at the handouts from the fifth session of the course & jot down further thoughts/feelings on this week's session 5 reflection sheet.  There was the 'positive' emotions broaden & build resources - part 1 & part 2, the positivity ratio assessment questionnaire (now upgraded!), gratitude & appreciation exercise slides, instructions & record sheet (the correct one), the coming to our senses walking/travelling exercise, the savouring-relevant quotations sheetand the personal goals for roles example sheet.  What last night felt most interesting & potentially helpful for you ... what felt less clear or less helpful?  (10 minutes total, or more if you want)  

2.)  Try to practise this week's loving-kindness meditation pretty much every day until our next meeting.  (15 minutes most days).

3.)  Aim to continue practising a 12-breath mini-meditation three times daily.  This week's practice is the last where we chop & change, adding new areas to explore.  The first 4-breath sequence is the same as usual ... intention/scanning/naming ... and the fifth breath is also the same, involving soothing touch/self-compassion.  Breaths six to eight are different.  They involve savouring in the present.  Awareness is on what's feeling good right now ... as one scans through the body and in the sounds & sense of one's environment.  I usually continue to keep my eyes closed during this section of the exercise but, if it would help savouring in the present, you can always allow your eyes to open (even if only a little).  Enjoyment, gratitude, appreciation.  Then the ninth breath is familiar again, a connection to our values ... spine & heart.  Then the last three breaths again have a new focus ... savouring into the future.  What am I looking forward to in the next few hours?  What looks as though it might be interesting, fun, warm, relaxing, stimulating ... ?  Here's a talk through of this fifth week version of the 12-breath practice.  (9 minutes practice in total most days)

4.)  Set aside 5 minutes a day for the gratitude & appreciation exercise.  There are links to downloadable slides, instructions & a record sheet in section 1.) above.  It's usually better if you try to do this exercise at a similar regular time each day (looking back over the previous 24 hours).  Note down three things ... like 'snapshots' of appreciated times ... three 'blessings'.  They're not meant to be 'the best' moments ... just three experiences that were pretty special.  Once you've jotted down three, re-imagine them.  Probably easiest if you close your eyes.  Go into your senses.  What did the situation look like?  How did you feel physically?  Write down a few words that describe how the experience made you feel emotionally then ... and now.  Do this for each of the three experiences. Experiential processing like this typically boosts wellbeing more effectively than staying in one's head ... and typically counting our blessings like this helps to reduce our stress levels.  And, once you've been doing this for a day or two, you'll probably find you're looking out for & noting these special 'snapshots' as you go through the day.  That's great.  You may also enjoy sharing this exercise with others and asking about their day as well.  As usual there's a tendency to habituate, so it may be most effective to repeat this exercise for a week or so every month.  (5 minutes daily)

5.)  Have at least a couple of 'Ta-Da's!' in your day.  This is a tip from Barbara Fredrickson.  Having a balanced time perspective is associated with greater wellbeing ... so we aim to be able to remember aspects of the past happily, savour the present too, and plan for & look forward to the future.  Suggestion 3.) above encourages savouring in the present and into the future.  Suggestion 4.) involves savouring into the immediate past.  This suggesion 5.) is both a future savouring exercise & a preparation/alert to savour in the present once the event is reached.  I often find I don't have to add anything extra to my To-Do list.  It's more about identifying certain activities that I can look forward to with some pleased anticipation.  I do pretty routinely keep a To-Do list, so I note the potential Ta-Da's! by putting an exclamation mark beside them on the To-Do list.  Sometimes I may also add an activity to give the day a bit of extra Ta-Da spice, but mostly the potential spice is already there ... it's just about taking a few extra moments to identify the activities and savour them ... in anticipation & in execution!  (2 minutes plus) 

6.)  A couple of times (or more) over this next week, experiment with the coming to our senses exercise.  And, if you would like other ideas for savouring, try out one or more suggestions from the blog post "Deepening our enjoyment & appreciation of life".  Again these suggestions are both about savouring into the future and preparing oneself to better savour in the present.  The coming to our senses exercise is potentially a particularly good one for practising losing our head & coming to our senses.  So the instruction is to take 10 minutes (or longer) when walking (or when travelling in other ways, for example running, on a bus, in a train, a passenger in a car, etc).  Quite deliberately start by bringing attention to what one can see by repeating silently "Observing ... " and completing the sentence with whatever one's eyes are noticing.  And again "Observing ... ", "Observing ... ".  Then the same process of deliberately paying attention to our senses, but this time it's "Hearing ... ", "Hearing ... ", "Hearing ... ".  Often I'll then return to "Observing ... " x 3 and then I move on to "Sensing ... ", "Sensing ... ", "Sensing ... " before moving back to "Observing ... " again and so on through the sequence.  By "Sensing ... " I mean noting the sensations of one's body ... especially on the interface between skin & outer world e.g. the breeze on my face, the feel of my trouser legs on my shins, the pressure on my feet from my weight and the ground underneath, and so on.  (20 minutes weekly or somewhat longer depending on available time & interest). 

7.)  If you found it helpful carrying a quotation before (about heart or spine), try it again for savouring & appreciation.  Here's a list of savouring-relevant quotations you can choose from ... or use an alternative quote that you select.  Again carry it with you all week.  Learn it.  Feel it.  (a minute a day?)

These seven home practices, if done well, take up about 30 to 40 minutes each day.  If you find it helpful to keep track of these practices ... and this is often useful for maintenace & learning ... here is another downloadable four week practice record.  For home practice suggestions for the sixth week, click here.


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