|Basic||Wednesdays||15 January||5 Weeks||6.30 to 8.00 pm|
|Basic||Mondays||20 January||5 Weeks||6.30 to 8.00 pm|
|Basic||Tuesdays||28 January||5 Weeks||6.00 to 7.30 pm|
|Mindfulness||Wednesdays||19 February||5 Weeks||6.30 to 8.00 pm|
|Basic||Mondays||24 February||5 Weeks||6.30 to 8.00 pm|
|Basic||Wednesdays||26 March||5 Weeks||6.30 to 8.00 pm|
|Mindfulness||Mondays||31 March||5 Weeks||6.30 to 8.00 pm|
All evening classes are held at the Subiaco Community Centre at 203 Bagot Rd. This is 100 metres east of the intersection with Rokeby Rd, with good parking nearby.
The fee for the Basic Course is $220 or $160 (concession or repeat). This includes resources that will help you practice and continue to learn more after the course is finished. These include the 2-CD set of guided meditations entitled How to Meditate: The Basic Kit, plus the audiobook Focusing and Awareness, and another 2-CD set of guided meditations of your choice. (These resources are worth $80 if purchased separately).
The book The 5-Minute Meditator is the required text for the Basic course. If you don’t already have this book you can purchase it on the first day for $20. If you pay for it when you register for the course, it will be posted to you at no extra charge. The course works with five exercises in the early chapters of this book.
The fee for the Mindfulness Course is $220 or $160 (concession or repeat). This includes the cost of the textbook Mindfulness 101, which will be posted to you in advance when you register.
During the course we meditate in chairs, not seated on the floor or lying down. If you can’t attend your usual class, you can attend any other class that week or later. If you miss some classes, you can catch them up in the following term. There will be no refunds after a course has started. If you repeat a course within the year, you can pay at the concessional rate.
This course will teach you how to meditate without having to rely on a group or a teacher. Each class presents 2-4 meditations with explanations, guidance and discussion. The whole course will help you understand how meditation works in your body and mind. You will learn to read the physical and mental signs of success and know to how deal with the bugs that arise (distraction, fatigue, bad mood, runaway thought. . .).
Some of these exercises are long but others are quite short. These ‘spot-meditations’ will help you shed the unnecessary stress rapidly and restore a sense of balance and control at any time during the day. Nor do you always have to sit down to meditate. You can easily do it whenever you walk, wait or do exercise. A spot-meditation well done can restore you to a base-line level of arousal in less than a minute. Done frequently (i.e. once a hour) it can keep you functioning well all day long. It helps you pace yourself and avoid exhaustion.
People meditate for a variety of reasons: to sleep better, to control an overactive mind, to wind back anxiety, to manage pain or illness, to be more focused and productive, to get more pleasure in life. If you understand what happens when you meditate, and you reflect on the results of what you do, you can confidently adapt your practice to suit your own goals and lifestyle.
Meditation is based on just two abilities: relaxation and attention. Both are natural and intuitive but we hardly ever develop them as skills. We can all relax:we all fall asleep eventually. Most babies can do it perfectly but it becomes harder as we get older. Meditation trains us to relax quickly and consciously at any time, even with a stressed busy mind.
Learning to pay attention is a adult cognitive skill with enormous down-stream benefits, but in meditation it starts very simply. Focusing on the body for longer than usual accelerates the process of relaxation, while the act of focusing itself calms the mind.
You are likely to get good results from the very first class. It is easy to meditate when you are being guided by someone in a place free from your usual distractions. However it still takes practice to develop meditation as a reliable, do-it-yourself skill. I suggest a minimum of 15 minutes a day in total, five days a week if you want to see good progress. This can be in one session or broken into spot-meditations. Just like any skill, meditation will usually require 100-200 repetitions and about 3 months to consolidate.
Meditation is often seen as little more than a tool for relaxation and mental calm. Valuable as this is, the greatest benefits arise from the kind of attention involved, which is usually called ‘mindfulness’. This term is now widely used in psychology and in the popular self-help literature, but what exactly does it mean? This workshop will present the three most common approachs to mindfulness.
The first approach is mindfulness as more or less equivalent to ‘meditation’: the ability to relax quickly and control the mind. If this is mostly what you are looking for, and you are new to meditation, you might find it better to attend the Basic Meditation Course instead.
The second approach is ‘Functional Mindfulness’. This is our continuous, ‘pay attention to what you are doing’ mindfulness. This is about giving sufficient attention, no less but also no more, to each successive activity during the day. Its purpose is to optimise performance, avoid mistakes, make good choices and enjoy a sense of calmness and ‘flow’ throughout the day. It is about being more present, more embodied and enhancing our capacity for absorption and pleasure.
The third approach is ‘Psychological (or Detached Observer) Mindfulness’ to counteract anxiety, pain and runaway thought. This involves finding a place of body-mind stillness from which you can regard your thoughts and emotions with more clarity and detachment. This ‘stop and look’ manoeuvre reduces overthinking and emotional reactivity, and boosts the ‘rest and recovery’ effects of any basic meditation practice.
Mindfulness has benefits that go far beyond meditation alone. To be mindful is to know what you are doing, thinking or feeling in the moment. It is our capacity for self-observation in any circumstance. It is also called ‘metacognition’ or ‘self-awareness’ or ‘self-monitoring.’
We can train ourselves to be more mindful if we want to. This will enhance our ability to see, evaluate and respond to whatever is happening as it happens. With practice, this enables us to control our thoughts, manage our emotions, cope well with difficulties and fine-tune our behaviour all day long. It is also the starting point for higher mental functions such as memory, judgement, learning, will-power and self-understanding. Relaxation and mental calm are good, but the benefits of self-awareness can’t be overestimated.