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Using Williams & Penman's book "Mindfulness: a practical guide" as a self-help resource (1st post) - introduction

This is the first in a series of intended 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

Is interpersonal group work better than sitting meditation for training mindfulness?

I'm missing the seventh session of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course that I've been attending because I've come down to our annual four day UK Men's Group in Cumbria.  I've written about these peer groups many times on this blog - for example, last year's Men's Group and the year before's, as well as Mixed Groups here in Cumbria and just last month a Scottish Mixed Group too.  I woke this morning and wondered - as a kind of thought experiment - whether maybe this four day interpersonal group is, in some ways, a "better" way of training mindfulness than the more traditional practice of sitting in meditation. 

Learning MBSR: fifth evening of the course - the value of "difficult" practice sessions & of "concentration"

Yesterday evening was the fifth session of the MBSR course that I'm attending.  I'd missed the fourth session because of my wife's birthday, but I did jot down some thoughts last week in the blog post "Learning MBSR: ... body scan, Damasio on identity, and informal practice".  There were seven of us attending tonight's session, so two were missing.  We began with a straight 45 minute sitting meditation - slightly "marines" when my usual practice is 20 minutes.  The experience of "swimming out" into a longer group practice echoes back for me to a series of meditation retreats I went to in my 20's.  Memories, not so much visual or verbal, more a sense in my body of poignancy, happiness, strength, youthfulness, openness.  Strange.

Learning MBSR: fourth evening of the course - body scan, Damasio on identity, and informal practice

I wrote last week about the third evening of this eight session MBSR course.  The fourth session was yesterday evening and I missed it.  It was my wife's birthday and I'd told the course teacher when I enrolled that I wouldn't get to this fourth meeting ... or to the seventh meeting when I'll also be away.  It's not ideal.  My practice has been poorer this last week, both because I've been particularly busy and also because I haven't been back to get the weekly commitment boost that tends to come from attending the class.  I've still practised mindfulness meditations every day, but it's felt more like a routine to be squeezed in than a particularly rich exploration over these last several days. 

Learning MBSR: third evening of the course - the surprising importance of practising mindfulness during movement

Well last night was the third session of this MBSR course.  I wrote last week about the second evening and also about mindfulness during daily activities.  We packed a lot into this session - there were four practical meditation exercises involving attending to sounds, breath & body awareness, mindfulness during movement & a brief breathing space.  We also had quite extensive group discussions of our experience during each of these practices, a pair exercise to discuss our "homework" last week (it felt helpful to me that this was a bit longer than last session's pair discussion) and more general "homework" exploration in the group.

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