by Annice Kenan
An idea for how to introduce mindfulness in the TRAINING THE MIND session, POF Class One
I presented this process for introducing mindfulness:
First, I wrote MEDITATION on the chaulkboard and asked people what thoughts feelings came to mind when they heard “meditation” — “What do you think it’s about?”
At the beginning we got mostly positive responses, which I wrote up on the board. Then I asked for any negative or weird thoughts, ideas or feelings about it. Instantly we heard, “creepy, scary, opening to evil spirits, chakra stuff, confusing, frustrating, etc” (aiming for the attitude that anything they presented as welcome). I thanked them for offering all types of ideas and concerns that they had about meditation. I assured them that this class would not be about “prayer, chanting, aligning chakras, opening to evil spirits, listening to country music” ; ) —
Then I turned back to the board and erased the things they expressed that were not what we were teaching about mindfulness. Starting with the funnier ideas, such as “listening to country radio/chakra” stuff, but I also tenderly erased “prayer.” It felt important to acknowledge again that this class would not be directing them to pray to any god while meditating… we would be using it more as a vehicle/method/technique/tool…that seemed to land okay with the group.
I then asked if their concerns were calmed, and then once everyone seemed on board, I pointed out how much more space was on the board now, how now we can now let the openness/curiosity/willingness that was spoken to in the beginning of class to be a part of the class.
I had lots of big eyes on me during this process and it felt quite sincere and connective, and the questions were great. Then after we practiced for our first 3 minute sit, the questions were heartfelt and anchored in their direct fresh experience, instead of their IDEAS about the experience, which feels an important distinction.
We were off to a great start!
Another thing I like to do in the class is:
ASKING FOR TWO FEELINGS AT CLASS START —
I believe in this even though it takes more time, because when we did the one word “weather report” we usually only heard “stressed, tired, anxious, frustrated, numb” etc… Now each person says their name and two feelings, often we hear “stressed and open, tired and curious, anxious but hopeful, frustrated and happy” – the two-ness surprises even them! We are often caught up thinking we are just one feeling/ ex. stressed, we often identify with that one thing, but we are never just feeling one thing! I think it’s is helpful to name this, it creates more connection inside, and helps us locate our self, because to notice we are more than just tired means someone in there can notice we are more than what we first thought we were… I love this exercise!
Hope this is helpful,