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Meditation 4 Week Program 

  • Commit to one long slow breath a day. If you are having a busy day do a short meditation. Doing just a single long slow deep breath is better than not doing anything.
    No matter how long your formal meditation practice is taking long slow mindful breaths throughout the day helps cultivate mindfulness and awareness.
  • Try to meditate the same time each day. Preferably in the morning.
    Find a quiet place and sit in a comfortable erect and dignified posture if you can.
  • Goal is NOT stopping thoughts but being aware of them. When your mind wanders and you recognize that it has wandered you are cultivating awareness.
  • Goal is to cultivate a kind attention. Be gentle with yourself. No one is perfect. You can be kind to yourself no matter what.
  • Notice the tone of voice you have when the voice in your head is talking to you. Part of the practice is to notice the tone of voice and notice if you are being kind and fair to yourself and others.
  • The obstacles such as being tired, bored and or lazy are opportunities to practice kindness, dedication, persistence, confidence and acceptance. Don’t give up too easily but don’t try too hard. If you are challenged, see if you can overcome the resistance for 30 seconds or a minute and if you are frustrated then you should stop.
  • Every meditation is a good meditation. It may seem difficult at the time but the practice is building your capabilities for the next meditation.
  • Doing the practices regularly helps strengthen your practice. It is like a truck going up the hill. If you keep doing it every day you develop momentum. When you stop for a couple of days you are starting from the bottom of the hill.
  • Be curious. Have a beginner’s mind. Really be curious about your breathing. What does it feel like. Can you feel the moisture in your breath?
  • How deep do you breathe? What happens when you pause between breaths?
  • Do as many informal exercises as you can:
    • Long slow breath (1 or more)
    • Develop a list of triggers that will make this a habit. Examples of triggers:
    • Get into or out of your car.
    • Whenever you are waiting – in line, traffic jams, red lights.
    • Wishing others well. See if you can say to yourself “Just like me they want happiness” every time that you see someone.
  • Aspirations before formal meditation
    • When you meditate it can be very helpful to think about your motivation. If you start out your meditation with your aspirations then it can help inspire you and help you cultivate a sense of well-being. Here are some suggestions:
      May I find peace, calmness and contentment.
      May I be kind to myself and others.
      May I have realistic expectations of myself and others
      May I find the wisdom to respond constructively to difficult situations.
  • Gratitude after formal meditation

Homework
Decide what you think that you can do in this list and see if you are disciplined enough to do it.   If not, why not.

  • Micro Practice – Do 1 long slow deep breath each day.   Extra credit – Multiple times a day and or more than 1 a day
  • Formal Practice – The best time to do it is in the morning because it is less likely you will be tired or feel overwhelmed. If you start out with 5 minutes you can just wake up 5 minutes earlier.
  • Day 1 – 5 min – long slow breath – “Calm my body” – Click Here
  • Day 2 – 5 min – long slow breath – “Balanced Breathing” – Click Here
  • Day 3 – 5 min – long slow breath – “Focal point” – Click Here
  • Day 4 – 5 min – Kristin Neff – “Self-Compassion Break”
  •  —-        Kristin Neff’s Web Page Click Here find ““Self-Compassion Break” on the page
  • Day 5 and 6 – Choose whichever ones of the three you wish to do and do it once a day.
  • Day 7 – Do a 5-minute longs slow breath without being guided. Choose any combination of techniques.

Informal Practice

  • Long Slow Breath  throughout the day
    • Develop a list of triggers that will remind you to become aware so that you can make a long slow and deep breath a habit. Examples of triggers/reminders:
      • Get into or out of your car.
      • Whenever you are waiting – in line, traffic jams, red lights.
      • When you walk through a doorway.
    • Stressful Situations
      • Whenever there is something that upsets you take one long slow breath before you react.
        • While you are breathing slowly make sure your focus is on your bodily sensations.
        • Does your attitude change as the focus goes to your breath and the breath slows down?

Guidance

  • Integrate long slow breath into your daily life
    • This helps you slow down your heart rate and decrease your blood pressure.
    • Use this before any formal meditation.
    • These breathing exercises are particularly easy for you to do throughout the day for short periods of time. Red lights, traffic jams, waiting in line, before or after stressful events.
  • Instructions
    • The benefit of the long slow breath is to be able to relax your body, slow down your heart rate.
    • Just by breathing slowly you can relax.
    • This can be done in a formal way in a sitting meditation or it can be done before, after or during stressful events or when you are waiting in line.
    • There are techniques or skillful means used to help keep your mind from wandering.
      • You are intentionally control your breath by breathing slowly. This decreases your heart rate and slows down your pulse.
      • You can say to yourself “Breathing in I relax my body, breathing out I relax my mind.”
      • You can balance the in breath and out breath by counting to the same number on the in breath and out breath.
      • You can try to pause between the in breath and the out breath.
      • You can imagine a wave of relaxation flowing through your body on the in breath and imagine that you are breathing out all of your tension on the out breath.

Homework

Decide what you think that you can do in this list and do it.

  • Everyday – One Long Slow Breath
  • Day 1 – 10 min – Body Scan – Click Here 
    and or One Mindful meal
  • Day 2 – 10 min – Long slow breath – Click Here
    and or One Mindful Shower
  • Day 3 – 10 min – Soft Belly – From Mind Body Medicine – Click Here
    and or A mindful walk savoring what you see and hear.
  • Day 4 – 10 min – Qigong – Lee Holden – Click Here
    and or Washing the dishes mindfully
  • Day 5 – Choose whichever one of the 10-minute practices you wish to do
    and or Listen mindfully so someone
  • Day 6 and 7 – Do a 10-minute meditation without being guided. Choose any combination of techniques
    and or listen to your favorite music and treat it like a meditation.  Notice when your mind wanders.

Extra Credit 

  • Load Insight Timer on your smartphone   Click Here from your Smartphone
  • Once your Insight Time is on your smartphone
    • From Pain to Peace by Bethany Auriel-Hagan – Click Here
    • Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation & Sleep – Casey Conerly – Click Here

Informal Practice

  • Do the body scan before you go to sleep. Like on you back and do not move.
  • Continue to practice the other informal practices from the first week.

Guidance

  • Body scan can be done as a formal practice or to help you with your sleep. To use it to sleep
    • First relax the body with long slow breaths for 3 – 5 minutes.
    • Lie flat on your back and don’t move.
    • Go slowly through your body focusing on each part.
    • Focus on the sensations and don’t worry if you don’t feel anything.
    • Consciously relax each part of your body.
    • When you have gone through the whole body send a wave of relaxation through the whole body from the top of your head to the tip of your toes.
    • Start over. It doesn’t matter whether you start from the top of your head down to the toes or in reverse order.
  • For some people focusing on the body is easier than focusing on the breath.
  • When your mind wanders:
    • Notice the tone of the voice that you are talking to yourself. Is it kind, forgiving and encouraging?
    • If it is a repeating story that you are saying to yourself then give it a name. The “woe is me story”.   The world is not fair story.
    • You might question the story. Is it true?  Is it helpful?

Homework

Decide what you think that you can do in this list and do it.

Everyday

One Long Slow Breath

Formal Meditations

  • Day 1 – 5 min – Loving Kindness – Set a timer and for 5 minutes think about the people you love and wish them well
  • Day 2 – 5 min – Compassion – Set a timer and for 5 minutes think about the people you love who are suffering and wish them well
  • Day 3 – 10 min – For 10 minutes – Doing loving kindness and then compassion.
  • Day 4 – 15 min – Chris Germer – Self-compassion break – Click Here
  • Day 5 – 15 min – Chris Germer – Soften soothe and allow – Click Here
  • Day 6 – 15 min – Qigong 10 min – Click Here   Long Slow Breath 5 min Click Here
  • Day 7 – Choose the guided meditations that you prefer

Optional Informal Practices

  • Continue to practice the other informal practices from the first two weeks.
  • Every time you see someone say a phrase that opens up your heart. For example, you could say to yourself “Just like me they want happiness” or “May you be happy” or “I love you”.
  • Every hour on the hour picture someone you care for and wish them love, happiness, peace and joy. Just 10 seconds.
  • Every time that you speak to someone think to yourself “Just like me this person wants happiness”
  • Once a day find someone that you feel deserves a compliment and give it to them

Formal Meditations

  • Day 1 – 10 min – Tara Brach – RAIN – Click Here
  • Day 2 – 20 min – Kristin Neff’s Web Page Click Here –
    • Find Loving Kindness Meditation
  • Day 3 – 20 min – Chris Germer – Web Page Click Here
    • Find ““Self-Compassion Break”
  • Day 4 – 15 min – Chris Germer – Web Page Click Here
    • Find ““Soften Soothe and Allow”
  • Day 5 – Choose the guided meditations that you prefer
  • Day 6 and 7 – Do a 15-minute meditation without being guided. Choose any combination of techniques.

Informal Practice

  • Continue to practice the other informal practices from the first three weeks.
  • Every time you see someone say a phrase that opens up your heart. For example, you could say to yourself “Just like me, you want happiness” or “May you be happy” or “I love you”.

Informal Practices

Helpful Websites

These web sites have a wide variety of guided meditations and informal practices
Greater Good
Chris Germer
Kristin Neff
Dharma Seed

While there is a lot we have in common, there are a lot of things that make us different.  It is important to have a personal practice that reflects your beliefs and utilizes the skills that you have.   We don’t all get inspired by the same things.   Some people like mantras, visualizations, prayers, affirmations and others may not.   Create a practice that reflects you.

  • A practice can have different sections. Pick the sections that you want in your daily practice and use your own wording.
    • Get grounded! Shift your focus to present moment sensations
      • Feel the feet on the floor, be conscious that you are breathing
    • Think about your aspirations – Why are you here.
    • Inspirations – quotes or prayers that inspire you
      • Choose your prayers and quotes
    • Slow your heart rate and decrease your blood pressure
      • Long Slow Breath
      • If you are stressed you might do this section longer than normally. You also might want to use one of these techniques to keep the focus:
        • Balance your breath by counting to some number on the in breath and counting to the same number on the out breath.
        • “Breathing in I relax my body, breathing out I calm my mind”
      • Add mantras or affirmations
        • If you are extremely stressed out mantras may be easier to do.
        • Om, mani, padme hum.
        • Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus
        • I can, I will
        • Reverence, gratitude, confidence humility.
      • Choose a focus meditation body scan or breath.
      • Do an open awareness – Mindfulness
        • Be aware of the breath, the sounds, the thoughts, the smells.
        • Focus on all of them at the same time or rotate between them.
        • Always be aware of what your focus is.
        • If thoughts are arising don’t get carried away by them. Return your primary  to a present moment sensation such as sound, breath, bodily sensations.
      • Lovingkindness – Thinks of those you love and wish them well
        • You can go through a list of people each day that you care about.
      • Compassion
        • Think of those that are suffering and wish them the best.
      • Gratitude