Join us for Stress Reduction Through Mindfulness — a
28-day online meditation event where you can learn how the power of
mindfulness can reduce the stress of daily life. It’s suitable for
people of all levels of experience, including complete beginners.
Mindfulness is the gentle
effort to be continuously present with experience. It involves
observing our experience rather than merely participating it in. When
anxious or depressive thoughts arise, for example, we can simply notice
them, and choose not to get drawn into the stories they try to create
for us. We are then free to choose responses to stressful situations
that make life less stressful for us, rather than more.
Nov 1: Waking Up: Stepping
From Delusion to Freedom in This Very Life
A two-month meditation event on developing insight.
In order to bring
about the maximum degree of freedom
from suffering we have to
radically change the way we see
ourselves and our relation with the
world. Click here to register!
Dec 1: Sit Breathe Love:
31 Days to Establishing a Rock-Solid Daily Meditation Practice
A 31-day meditation challenge helping you to set up the
meditating daily. It’s suitable for people of all
experience, including complete beginners. Click here to register!
for subscribing! Here’s the first email
from our stress reduction event!
Peace in Every Moment
people assume that as a meditation teacher I must be immune to stress.
But life can be challenging for anyone! In the last four or five years
I’ve gone through a number of very stressful experiences, including the
discovery that my tax accountant had covered up the fact that she
hadn’t submitted my business tax returns two years in a row, leading to
the Internal Revenue Service pursuing me for tens of thousands of
dollars in penalties (which I ended up not having to pay any of,
fortunately), a painful divorce, moving house several times, surgery
for cancer (I’m fine, by the way!), and financial problems caused by my
health insurance not covering all of the subsequent medical bills.
One time I told a friend
that I felt like I was walking up the “down” escalator while someone
was hurling bowling balls down the stairs!
Although my meditation
practice was helpful, challenges like these showed me that my existing
practice wasn’t enough. I was pushed to go deeper and to develop new
and more effective tools for managing the difficulties I was going
through. It’s those approaches that I’m going to share with you over
the 28 days of this course.
My approach to stress
reduction is based on the fact that there are two distinct, but
related, forms of stress.
There is the primary
stress that results from having an experience that your mind interprets
as a threat — such as being pursued for tax penalties, having your home
life disrupted and dislocated by divorce and moving house, becoming
ill, or experiencing loss. These give rise to unpleasant feelings such
as anxiety, confusion, and grief.
Then there is the
secondary stress caused by our reacting to primary stress in ways that
create further unpleasant feelings. For example, sometimes we assume
that in being stressed we’re failing in some way, and so we criticize
ourselves. This creates more distress. Sometimes we overeat,
overindulge in alcohol, or take out our frustrations in others, and
these actions ultimately lead to even more stress being created. In
fact, much of our stress results when our chronic attempts to solve or
avoid unpleasant feelings themselves cause unpleasant feelings.
With primary stress, it’s
the ability to offer ourselves empathy, kindness, compassion, and
reassurance that’s most important. We need to learn to be gentle and
kind to ourselves. We need to learn to soothe and comfort ourselves in
the same way that we would a dear friend, or even a child or animal,
that was experiencing stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness is of great
benefit in dealing with secondary stress. It helps us to let go of
unhelpful mental patterns of having aversion to unpleasant experiences
and of using craving to try to bury or avoid those same experiences.
We’ll explore a number of mindfulness practices that will help us to
identify and let go of stress-inducing habits.
Those, then, are some of
the skills we’ll be cultivating over the next four weeks. To help you,
there will be readings every day, which I’m going to try to keep
relatively brief so that I don’t end up adding to your stress!
There will also be around
a dozen guided meditations. Some will be very brief, and others will be
a little longer. You can listen to the first of them here. It’s a short
meditation that helps us set the intention to be kind and patient with
ourselves as we cultivate mindfulness and self-compassion.
Here is Meditation #1, a
5-minute guided meditation to help us arrive and to set our intentions
for the course.