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Introduction to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Cultivating Reverence for Living Week 1

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What the Program Offers   Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction: Another name for mindfulness is Awareness. This is a holistic program which will involve Body, Mind, Emotions and Spirit. We will focus on awareness of our breath, which allows us to come back to ourselves, and awareness of body sensations, thoughts, and feelings. With mindfulness, we become centered. Saki Santorelli defines mindfulness as “our capacity to pay attention moment to moment on purpose.” This is the opposite of “zoning out” …couch potato relaxation…mindlessness.

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WE are always practicing something…e.g. irritation, judging, calmness. With mindfulness, we learn to be aware of what we’re practicing and we can learn to alter those practices in more life-giving ways—ways that take us towards the relaxation response. Attends to body-mind-spirit. We will introduce ways for you to listen to your own bodies and minds, to notice where you hold stress in your body, to observe your thoughts and emotions, and to learn a way of being that can make life more rich and pleasurable. This way of “awareness” or “mindfulness” may also give you a sense of being more in control. With mindfulness, we are present and awake for more of our moments.

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Attitude of Non-Striving. There are no pressures, no tests, no grades, no “one way” to do these practices. The goal is for you to experience these practices for yourselves. Simply show up for the class and do the practices and let’s see what happens. Non-Striving

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Joy of Meditation as Nourishment From The Blooming of a Lotus by Thich Nhat Hahn  Breathing in, I calm my body. Calm Breathing out, I smile. Smile Breathing in, I dwell in the present moment. Present moment Breathing out, I know it is a wonderful moment. Wonderful moment. Practice: Body Scan

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Taking Hold of Your Mind: Mental Noting and Stretching and Strengthing Week 2

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Introduce Mindful Walking: We do all kinds of daily activities we aren’t aware of…example- showering. Another example- walking. We walk a lot, but how often are we aware that we’re walking? We’re usually absorbed in thoughts while walking. Our mind is telling us where we want to go and our body gets us there. So, in a way, the body is a chauffeur of the mind. When the mind hurries, the body hurries. If the mind is attracted to something, the body moves toward it. If the mind is stressed/ tense, then the body is stressed/tense. One way to bring awareness into your daily life is to practice mindful walking (or walking meditation)… paying attention to the experience of walking itself…to the sensations in your feet and being aware of your movement.

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Mind Training Mental Noting is a way of growing this “observer” part of ourselves. It is labeling what you observe; naming your thoughts. Examples: “worried,” “judging,” “tense,” “irritated,” “happy,” etc. Just as we physically train the body with exercise, we can train the mind through mental noting. We simply become aware of (or pay attention to) what we are thinking. We can practice mental noting in time to the breath- for example, “In breath, worried” “Out breath, worried” and so on. Notice we stop thinking about what has triggered the worry and simply name it and breathe it. Watch your thoughts coming and going, like clouds in the sky. Notice each feeling rising and falling, like waves in the ocean. Observe what your mind is up to, and learn to watch your thoughts and let them go without getting caught up in them and being driven by them.

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Anger: If we are not aware, our actions are impulsive which usually feeds the anger and keeps you in a cycle of stress and suffering. If I get into this cycle, the anger is in control- not me. If I’m angry and aware that I’m angry, I can take a breath and feel the anger in my body and then choose how I want to respond to the anger. I am in control and can choose my actions. In order to become aware, I have to strengthen my observer self. Use mental noting.

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Depression Sadness- What good does it do me to be aware of it? It allows you to be aware that you are also more than your sadness. Doesn’t deny the sadness…accepts it, but also brings awareness that you are more than the sadness.  By mentally noting “sadness,” I can think about what “seeds of sadness” I may have been watering. I have become aware of my mental/emotional state and can now make choices. What seeds will I water?

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Practicing Mindfulness The key to being in control of your mind is learning to be in control of what we pay attention to and how long we pay attention to it. Have there been times you have been unable to stop thinking about things (the past, the future, emotional pain, physical pain), unable to concentrate on a task, unable to focus on another person?

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Judging Most thoughts come under one of three categories: I like it; I don’t like it; I’m neutral about it. This week, try practicing the mental noting of this flow of attraction, aversion, and indifference. Observe your judging, how often you are thinking this is good, that is bad. The mind that is always judging is like carrying around a suitcase full of rocks on your head. It’s heavy and causes the body to be tight. Remember: don’t judge your judging. We want to cultivate a non-judgmental mind. Exercise: Soft Belly Breathing

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Emotion Regulation Skills Week 3

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Understanding Emotions You Experience I want to be able to identify an emotion without identifying with the emotion. I am not my anger, my fear, my sadness, etc. I am me and this is the anger, the fear, the sadness. This is just another seed that has been watered in my garden. I am using mindfulness to separate my “me-ness” from a particular emotional state. I begin to understand what emotions do for me and to me.

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Reduce Your Emotional Vulnerability  Relating to my emotions mindfully does not mean I won’t ever feel angry, scared or sad (that’s suppressing!). What it means is that I am able to stop the emotion from hijacking my entire being. I build a kind of resistance and resiliency to negative emotional states in regard to the strength of their ability to influence, control, overwhelm, or possess me. Decrease Emotional Suffering  This is the bottom line and natural result. I often cause myself suffering or more suffering by the way I am reacting emotionally. Mindfulness helps me to let go of painful emotions (they lose their “velcro capacity”). Mindfulness metabolizes the painful emotion, creating an opening for other options, choices, responses.

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Myths about Emotions  (Statements of non-acceptance or resistance) There is a right way to feel in every situation. Letting others know I am feeling bad is weakness. Negative feelings are bad and destructive. Being emotional means being out of control. Emotions can just happen for no reason. Some emotions are really stupid.

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7. All painful emotions are a result of a bad attitude. 8. If others don’t approve of my feelings, I obviously shouldn’t feel the way I do. 9. Others are the best judges of how I’m feeling. 10. Painful emotions are not really important and should be ignored. Myths about Emotions

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Self-soothing and self-defining ¨      In working with an upsetting emotion, first we self-soothe with the breath, then we self-define. ¨      Self-soothing is observing the feeling, mentally noting it by naming it, accepting that it’s here by watching the breath as you name it. For example, “scared … scared.” Notice we are not trying to make the emotion go away but to be friendly to it. Remember: whatever you resist, persists. If I fight or ignore my fear, it only gets stronger. Self-definition is what I say or do, not what I try to get someone else to do. In self-defining rather than other-defining, I work with the one person over whom I have ultimate control, myself.

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Working with Sadness/Depression  Nearly one in five Americans will suffer from depression at some time in their lifetime. At any given time, 1-3% of the general population is depressed.   ·  We rarely stop to question our negative automatic thoughts, and our emotions usually match them. If you have negative expectations about yourself, others, and the future, these deeply pessimistic thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies. We tend to perceive or attend to things that confirm our point of view. This “seek and ye shall find” phenomenon then confirms our mood. ·  When governed by strong emotions, the mind becomes a filter, letting into conscious awareness only those thoughts that reinforce that mood. With negative automatic thoughts: Stop. Take a breath. Reflect on those thoughts. Then choose. Exercise: Self Tonglen, Environmental Tonglen

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Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills Week 4

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Physical Opening: Mindful Movements with Thich Nhat Hanh and the Monks and Nuns of Plum Village (35min.) Meditation: Forgiveness Didactic Material: Basic Interpersonal Styles, Anger Styles, Basic Message 1.      Aggressive (Over-angry): I count, you don’t count 2.      Passive (Un-angry): I don’t count, you count 3.      Passive-Aggressive (Indirect Anger): I count, you don’t count, but I’m not going to tell you. Assertive: I count, you count

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The Strategy of Assertion (e.g. Concentrate on what you need and want) Building Mastery and Self Respect (e.g.. You build mastery when you do things that make you feel competent and effective. Remember a time when you worked toward mastery.) Myths About Interpersonal Effectiveness (e.g. If they say no, it will kill me.) Legitimate Rights (or Choices) (e.g. It is OK to want something from someone else.)

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Concluding exercise: Forgiveness Meditation For anything I may have done to harm another, knowingly or unknowingly, I am forgiven. For anything anyone has done to harm me, knowingly or unknowingly, I forgive them. For anything I may have done to harm myself, knowingly or unknowingly, I forgive myself.

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Distress Tolerance Skills Week 5

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Anger and Frustration “We boil at different degrees” - Ralph Waldo Emerson What pushes your buttons? “Getting angry (daily/chronically) is like taking a small dose of a slow acting poison.” Anger is a toxin to your body. About 20% of the U.S. population has high hostility levels that endanger their health

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Didactic Themes: Working with Frustration and Anger Prompting Events for Feeling Anger Interpretations That Prompt Feelings of Anger Experiencing the Emotion of Anger Expressing and Acting on Anger Aftereffects of Anger Exercise: Qi Qong

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A Practice for Life: Unconditional Friendliness Week 6

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Loving-Kindness Meditation This is a practice that promotes healing and wholeness; it helps us cultivate love for ourselves and for others.   Posture and relaxation  Get into a comfortable, relaxed posture; preferably sitting upright so that you’re able to maintain some awareness, some sense of energy and vitality.

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Bring attention to your breath. Relax your head and neck, your jaw, your shoulders. “Breathing in, I calm my body.”   As you breath out, you can imagine a wave of relaxation sweeping downwards through your body, washing all of your tensions down, out of your body, into the earth. And as you breath in, you can imagine a wave of energy flowing upwards from the earth into your body, filing every fiber of your being.   Breathing in, I feel calm and peaceful. Breathing out, I am in a space of well-being. Feel free from suffering, fears, worries, and anxieties, and just dwell in calm and peace.

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Picture the person in your life who has cared for you most, who has shown good will to you. This person might be living or dead. Imagine yourself in this person’s presence, receiving his or her loving-kindness. You might picture this coming to you as beams of light.   Say to yourself: May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be calm and peaceful. May I be safe. May I be happy.

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Think of a person who has helped you along your path in life, and…   Say to yourself: May this person (or persons) be filled with loving-kindness. May they be calm and peaceful. May they be safe. May they be happy. Think of a person for whom you deeply care… May this person (or persons) be filled with loving-kindness. May they be calm and peaceful. May they be safe. May they be happy.

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Think of a person for whom you feel neutral, perhaps a stranger, someone you don’t know… May this person (or persons) be filled with loving-kindness. May they be calm and peaceful. May they be safe. May they be happy.   Think of a person toward whom you have negative feelings… May this person (or persons) be filled with loving-kindness. May they be calm and peaceful. May they be safe. May they be happy.

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Think of everyone here in this group… May we be filled with loving-kindness. May we be calm and peaceful. May we be safe. May we be happy.   Then think of all beings everywhere… May the entire universe be filled with loving-kindness. May we be calm and peaceful. May we be safe. May we be happy. Come back to an awareness of yourself and your breath, and gently open your eyes.

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