Mindfulness Series Introduction

Hello, and welcome to my online Mindfulness Meditation series! I’m so glad to be able to offer these sessions now, when the practical benefits of mindfulness meditation are more valuable than ever. The timing really is perfect! It is my hope that you will experience mindfulness meditation as a refuge in the storm and that your meditation practice will bear lifelong fruits.

I offer a Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation course, a Special Topics in Mindfulness series, and ongoing mindfulness meditation sessions. Exactly what I cover and how I structure the series evolves in response to what seems most useful to participants. Although the content varies, the introductory information and resources I want to share with you ahead of time are the same.

Course Content

Foundations (Intro) Course

This course will focus on building foundational awareness skills that will serve you in any and every situation: finding anchors to the present moment and developing balanced awareness of thoughts & emotions. We also will apply and deepen these skills through the heart practice of lovingkindness (which is the secret sauce of mindfulness). By the end, you will understand how these two wings of mindfulness fit together. 

The skills we will address include:

  • What is Mindfulness?
  • Mindfulness of the Breath
  • Mindfulness of the Body
  • Mindfulness of Feelings and Emotions
  • Mindfulness of Thoughts
  • Lovingkindness

I aim to provide just the right amount of information and support to help you establish/sustain/deepen a formal mindfulness meditation practice. Each class will begin with a brief, guided meditation and will include: an instructional talk, a longer guided practice related to the week’s topic, and opportunity for discussion/Q&A.

After each class, I will give you questions to reflect on and links to guided meditation practices and other resources to deepen your practice. Please don’t feel obligated to do all the “assignments”. I offer them for you to engage with your meditation practice at whatever level works for you. Please don’t pressure yourself to do too much. There is great value in keeping things simple. 

Special Topics Series

The topics presented during this series vary but may include:

  • Mindful Practices for Calming and Soothing
  • Mindful Communication
  • Mindfulness-on-the-Go
  • Mindfulness of Technology
  • Mindful Self-Compassion
  • RAIN Meditation
  • Cultivating Gratitude
  • Cultivating Lovingkindness towards Difficult People

…among others. The format is similar to the Foundations course, with the length of the presentation and practice periods varying depending on the group. Each class will begin with a brief, guided meditation and will include: an instructional talk, a longer guided practice related to the week’s topic, and opportunity for discussion/Q&A.

Ongoing Series

An ongoing series is designed to meet the needs of both those who are new to meditation and those who already have an established practice. The structure of sessions in an ongoing series allows space for more practice. The opening meditation is more guided, followed by a presentation that offers a deeper dive into some aspect of mindfulness meditation practice, or revisiting a basic foundation. Presentations are highly responsive to questions asked by participants and invite discussion (which is always optional). A second meditation is a little less guided, with longer silences for uninterrupted practice.

How to Prepare for Our Class Sessions

Please make sure you have a comfortable chair or cushion available for the guided meditations. I also encourage you to have a pen and notebook accessible for taking notes, and a quiet, uninterrupted environment for our time together.

Since you will be muted during the guided meditations, you are welcome to play some gentle music if it helps you to meditate.

It’s also nice to have some water or tea with you! (I love to imagine we’re meeting for tea and conversation.) And headphones or earbuds are entirely optional but recommended.

Zoom Basics

If you are new to Zoom conferencing, HERE is a video to introduce you to the basics. And here are some written Zoom instructions you can download.

Please make sure you are muted during the meditations and talks, and unmute yourself when you want to speak during Q&A and discussion times. This will minimize background sound and help the class flow more smoothly. I encourage you to wear headphones for the same reason. Also, please remember to silence electronic devices/notifications.

If you have something to say but don’t feel comfortable speaking up, you can send a chat message instead (to everyone or to just me). If something comes up for you when I’m giving a talk or even during a meditation, please send a chat so we can revisit it later during the class. 

If you don’t feel comfortable being seen by others while you meditate, you can Stop Video for privacy during our meditations.

Ground Rules and Expectations

I just want to communicate all of this ahead of time so we don’t have to spend time in class on it – so we can get right into what mindfulness is all about! 

Confidentiality

First and foremost, all course participants are expected to maintain confidentiality so everyone can feel safe in sharing. It’s fine to talk with people outside of this class about your experience in class, but not anyone else’s. 

Safe Space

I am committed to maintaining a safe environment in which everyone feels welcome and respected. Some of the challenging emotions many people are experiencing now involve politics, and we just can’t go there or assume everyone is on the same page. 

Sharing

Please be assured that sharing is always optional.

However, I encourage class discussion and questions! Since our classes are only an hour long, please keep your comments and questions succinct. If comments become long-winded, I might have to cut you off in the interest of time. 

Please listen and speak with respect and refrain from offering advice or judgments to classmates. We all have the inner capacity and wisdom for growth and healing, and assuming we have answers for others doesn’t allow them to access their own wisdom.

Staying Focused

To stay on topic, it’s important to keep class discussion focused on your mindfulness practice and how the course content relates to your practice. The point of mindfulness practice is to help you shift out of your stories and busy mind and into awareness of the present moment. In this course, we will focus on practice, which is the only way you will experience the transformative benefits of mindfulness meditation! 

Intellectualizing and philosophizing about mindfulness meditation get in the way of practicing it, so that’s not where we’ll put our attention. Also, please remember it’s a meditation class, not a psychotherapy group. That means we can talk about our thoughts and feelings as they relate to our meditation practice, without getting into the content. In other words, this is an opportunity to get out of the stories and into what’s real right now. (I think you’ll find this refreshing!)

If Discomfort Arises

If you ever end one of our practice periods or sessions not feeling okay, please let me know by either speaking up or sending me a private chat message or email. I care deeply about how you are doing. If we were in person, we could take a few minutes after the session to chat privately. And we can do that on Zoom, as well. Also, if any challenges arise when you’re meditating on your own, please feel free to reach out. I’m here for you. 

Helpful Resources to Get Started

Here is a Mindfulness Meditation Practice Log you can download to motivate you to practice daily and record any questions/challenges/insights that arise. Of course, you also can use a notebook, or whatever works for you.

Also, here is an informative How to Meditate-FAQ guide from one of my mentors, Tara Brach. 

And a few video shorts:

 

Building Your Meditation Practice

The benefits of mindfulness meditation don’t come from reading or thinking about it. They only come from having a regular practice. To support your practice between class sessions, you might consider some of the following resources:

  • links to guided meditations you can do on your own
  • a meditation accountability partner
  • live, guided meditation session(s) on Zoom each week 
  • links to live, online meditations by other teachers
  • private Facebook group open to anyone who’s taken my mindfulness courses
  • private “Meditation Out Loud” sessions with me via Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime (sliding scale)
  • private Mindful Photography in Nature mentoring with me (in person, sliding scale)

I’m offering this spectrum of options in response to feedback I’ve received from past course participants. Every single one of them is an optional and available menu item so you can have the support and confidence you need to build or fine-tune your meditation practice.

Ongoing Live Meditation Sessions

I offer live, guided meditation sessions weekly via Zoom through Schuylerville Public Library on Tuesdays at 7 PM. Please save the link. It will remain the same from week to week.

Tuesday evening Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87301609088?pwd=dU0zMko2Z0xnMHZtN2NZS1ZJNTlOQT09

In addition, here are some other mindfulness (vipassana/insight) meditation sittings that may be of interest:

Additional Resources

Apps

Books

  • Tara Brach: Radical Acceptance
  • Tara Brach: Radical Compassion
  • Tara Brach: True Refuge
  • Pema Chodron: When Things Fall Apart
  • Pema Chodron: Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better
  • Thich Nhat Hanh: The Miracle of Mindfulness
  • Rick Hanson: Buddha’s Brain
  • Rick Hanson: Neuro Dharma
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn: Full Catastrophe Living
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn: Mindfulness for Beginners
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn: Wherever You Go There You Are
  • Jack Kornfield: The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace
  • Jack Kornfield: The Wise Heart
  • Sharon Salzberg: Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
  • Michael Singer: The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself
  • Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
  • Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
  • Mark Williams et al.: The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness
  • Diana Winston: The Little Book of Being: Practices and Guidance for Uncovering Your Natural Awareness

Mindful Poets

  • John O’Donohue
  • Mary Oliver
  • Mark Nepo
  • Danna Faulds

Articles From My Blog

Movies

Looking Forward to Our Time Together

I’m excited to share with you mindfulness skills and tools that have made a huge, positive difference in my own life, and help you to develop a practice that will work for you. I’ve been practicing mindfulness meditation for nearly 30 years. I completed an intensive, multi-year mindfulness meditation teacher training program with pioneering teachers, Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, and completed Eckhart Tolle’s School of Awakening. I’m devoted to my own daily practice and to continued professional development as a teacher. My current explorations include trauma-sensitive mindfulness, mindful self-compassion, and my longtime passion for mindfulness with children. My approach to teaching is secular in nature.

I thank you for your willingness to participate in this course/series. More importantly, I acknowledge your intention to cultivate mindfulness. Your practice benefits our world.

Please feel free to email me (riverblissed@gmail.com is the email I check most frequently) with any questions or concerns that arise, or to introduce yourself and say hi. (Unfortunately, we won’t have time to do introductions during class.) I’m glad you’re participating in this course/series and look forward to seeing you soon!

And if attending live sessions doesn’t work for you…my self-study online course, Resource Your Life with the Magic of Mindfulness, is open for enrollment.

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