Mindfulness Meditation

"The journey toward health... is nothing less than an invitation to wake up to the fullness of our lives..."
— Jon Kabat-Zinn 

Breathe

Don’t let stress take over your life.  Take a break, breathe and get back on track with our weekly drop-in guided mindfulness meditation sessions.  

Parnassus
 Every Tuesday* - starting April 10
12:10-12:50 p.m.
MU111

FREE snacks!

*Please note: Sessions are subject to cancellation.  Please be sure to check our calendar for the most up-to-date schedule.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Management Class

Uncontrolled stress can adversely affect your academic performance, ability to manage clinical care, your personal and professional relationships, and your health. Learn stress management skills that can not only help you while you are here, but throughout your personal and professional life.

The mindfulness based stress management class is a three-session class designed to help students learn mindfulness meditation skills, ways to recognize unhelpful patterns in thinking, and more.   For those who register in this class, participation in all class sessions is required*.

To learn more about this class and the benefits of mindfulness meditation, please join us for an introductory session at the following location:  No sessions are currently scheduled.  Please check back for future sessions.

 
Q & A
Resources
 

What is mindfulness meditation?
How can mindfulness meditation help me?
Why can’t I stop myself from thinking during meditation? 
With what attitude should I practice meditation? 
How can I develop my own meditation practice?

Internet Audio Files
Podcasts
Readings
Research Bibliographies

 
Q & A

Q: What is mindfulness meditation?

A: There are many forms of meditation that stem from various spiritual practices that have been developed over a number of centuries. This website is intended to provide information about a particular form of meditation – “mindfulness meditation” - that has been identified in the healthcare literature as having health benefits independent of the participants’ spiritual beliefs. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, this form of meditation known as mindfulness meditation is described as the cultivation of moment-to-moment nonjudgmental awareness. In sitting mindfulness meditation, one attends to a particular aspect of the present moment such as physical sensations associated with breathing.

Q: How can mindfulness meditation help me?

A: Mindfulness meditation is a self regulatory technique that, with ongoing practice, can help us interrupt patterns of habitual reaction and allow for more intentional responding. This practice of shifting from habits of thinking to the present moment helps us because it allows us to spend more time where we live our lives, where we can make decisions, and make changes. Without the ability to refocus on the moment, we are trapped in thoughts about the future or the past and associated physiological responses which can include the cascading stress response.

Mindfulness meditation has been practiced by many peoples for centuries as a tool for personal and spiritual growth, development and healing. In the US, mindfulness meditation has also been empirically investigated and been shown to have a number of mind/body health benefits.

These benefits include:

  • Skillful observation of reactive and habitual patterns.
  • Management of some depression, anxiety and stress related symptoms.
  • Promotion of physical wellbeing.
  • Reduced blood pressure.
  • Higher immune function.
  • Improved digestion
  • Reduction in physical stress responses.
  • Greater sense of emotional wellbeing.
  • Increase in self-awareness.
  • Better management of chronic pain.
  • Development of self-acceptance.

Q: Why can’t I stop myself from thinking during meditation?

A: “Our thoughts are always happening. Much like leaves floating down a stream…If you are standing by a river and a leaf floats by, you have your choice of following the leaf with your eye or keeping your attention fixed in front of you. The leaf floats out of your line of vision. Another leaf enters…and floats by. But as we stand on the bank of the river and the leaves float by, there is no confusion as to whether or not we are the leaves. Similarly, it turns out that there is a place in our minds from which we can watch our own mental images go by. We aren’t our thoughts any more than we are the leaves.”
– Ram Dass and Paul Gorman

One of the most common misconception about meditation is that it involves an experiencing of a blank internal state, free of thoughts. Meditation is, in fact, not the experience of being blank, but that of noticing, being aware, being awake to the automatic habitual thoughts that come to us. So, it is meditative awareness that allows you to notice that you’re having a number of habitual thoughts while meditating. Know that with practice over time, you can strengthen the ability to notice yourself thinking and the ability to shift from thinking to being in the present moment. This ability to notice yourself thinking is the first step in arriving at the present moment where you can choose whether you want to think about something or simply be in the present while you’re with your loved ones, while taking a walk, while listening to a patient, while reading a research article, or wherever you happen to be at the time.

Q: With what attitude should I practice meditation?

A: According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, there are seven attitudes that constitute the foundation of mindfulness meditation practice. (Further discussion can be found in “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.)

1. Non-judging: Being an impartial witness to your experience.
2. Patience: Understanding that growth happens in its own time.
3. Beginner’s mind: A mind that is willing to see everything as it is for the first time.
4. Trust: A basic trust in yourself, your feelings and your experience.
5. Non-striving: There is no goal other than for you to be.
6. Acceptance: Seeing things as they actually are in the present.
7. Letting Go: Letting go of the impulse to grasp or push away experiences.

“Success in concentration comes not through suppression but by acknowledging each distraction and each conflict mindfully – with attention but without attachment – and letting it go until it subsides or loses its sway over us.”
--Jack Kornfield

Q: How can I develop my own meditation practice?

A: Frequency:
You’re more likely to reap the benefits of meditation if you practice it regularly. A regular practice would ideally include some time set aside for sitting mindfulness meditation practice along with an effort to incorporate a mindful way of being in everyday activities.

With regard to the sitting mindfulness meditation practice, it is said that practicing a few minutes daily is more beneficial than practicing for a longer period of time once in a while. For beginners, you can try sitting for 5-10 minutes daily and then gradually increase your time to 30 minutes or longer – daily. Please note that it is quite common for people to begin practicing regularly, lose track of the daily discipline, and then resume again. The important thing to remember is that you can begin a meditation practice whenever you notice that it is something you wish to do.

Mindfulness practice in daily activities involves generalizing your moment-to-moment nonjudgmental awareness beyond the sitting meditation session.

Examples include:

  • noticing sensations in your hands as you wash them
  • noticing your breath while you’re waiting at a stop light or in line at a grocery store
  • noticing the smell, colors, taste, texture, and aftertaste of a spoonful of food

Time of day:

The time of day that works best is different for different people. You might consider your circadian rhythm and try to find a time of day when you’re more likely to be alert. You might even experiment with time of day and find out what time works best for you and once you discover what that is, maintaining some level of consistency can be supportive to your practice.

Location:

For sitting meditation practice, consistency is the key to supporting the development of your own practice. So, finding a place where you can minimize distractions (which includes letting people you live with know that you cannot be disturbed during this time) can help you establish a regular practice. You are always welcome to attend our weekly guided meditation sessions.

Resources

Internet Audio Files of Guided Meditation:

UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center Website
UCSD Center for Mindfulness

ITunes U Podcasts:

▪ Mindfulness Meditations (UCLA)
▪ Mindfulness in Medicine (UW Integrative Medicine)

iPhone Meditation timer Apps:
▪ Zazen
▪ Insight Timer
▪ I-Qi
 

Readings:

  • • Calming Your Anxious Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You From Anxiety, Fear, and Panic. Brantley, Jeffrey, 2003.
  • • Coming to our senses: Healing ourselves and the world through mindfulness. Kabat-Zinn J., 2005.
  • • Eating Mindfully. Albers, Susan. New Harbinger Publications, 2003.
  • • Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain and illness. Kabat-Zinn J., 1990.
  • • Getting unstuck: Breaking your habitual patterns and encountering naked reality. Pema Chodron, 2004.
  • • Heal thyself: Lessons on mindfulness in medicine. Santorelli S., 1999.
  • • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression: A New Approach to Preventing Relapse. Segal, Zindel V. et al., 2001.
  • • A Path With Heart. Kornfield, Jack, 1994.
  • • Peace is Every Step. Hanh, Thich Nhat, 1992.
  • • The Mindful Brain – Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being. Siegel, Daniel J. W. W. Norton & Company, 2007.
  • • The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness. Williams, J. Mark G. et al. The Guilford Press, 2007.
  • • The relaxation response. Herbert Benson, 1975.
  • • The Zen of Eating. R. Kabatznich, 1998.
  • • Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain. Begley, Sharon, 2008.
  • • When things fall apart: Heart advice for difficult times. Pema Chodron, 1997.
  • • Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. Kabat-Zinn J., 1994.

Research Bibliographies:

http://www.researchingmeditation.org/bibliography/
http://www.pmalinowski.de/biblio/biblio.html