Practices Home

Start here to explore the practices of mindfulness and compassion.
See also Articles and Research for background on what mindfulness is and how it works.

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  • 16 Jan 2018 12:01 PM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    by Michael Kelberer

    The basic practice

    After settling into your meditation posture, begin to pay attention to the sounds arriving to your ears. You'll probably be focused on the loud, intense sounds at first, but gradually see if you can make room in your awareness for all the softer sounds as well. And sounds in the distance as well as sounds nearby. 

    You'll probably notice right away that your mind has a natural tendency to immediately hijack the listening process. It might label the sounds you're hearing (sound of car driving by), and then attach a story of some kind (that driver is going really fast), express a preference (I wish the traffic were quieter), or bring forth a memory (reminds me of my old Volvo).

    Simply notice these mental efforts as they occur, and realize that by capturing your awareness they probably didn't allow you to hear the next sounds that came up. See if you can gently return your awareness to the sounds themselves - their timber, their pitch, their volume. Pure sounds, without analysis or judgment.

    As your mind relaxes you may find that your awareness of the soundscape becomes richer and more varied, that many seemingly simple sounds are in fact made up of many tiny sound effects occurring together.

    Listening Meditation by Tim Burnett

    On our website: Listening Meditation

    This meditation is also on Insight Timer: search on Mindfulness Northwest

  • 1 Jan 2018 11:50 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    There's plenty of research showing that sustained practice over time yields the most benefits to the practitioner. No real surprise there. And there's nothing (for most of us) like a regular group/community to provide us with the support, motivation and accountability to keep our home practice going.

    Here are some groups that meet regularly (or soon will);

    Bellingham area:

    Free Drop-in class: Meets Thursday evenings starting February 1st. Mostly practice, with some instruction. Suitable for beginners. Click here for more.

    Other groups: Check our website for more: Mindfulness Practice in Bellingham.

    Seattle area: There are quite a few Mindfulness groups that meet regularly and are free. More information on our website: Mindfulness Practice in Seattle.

  • 15 Dec 2017 11:59 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    by Michael Kelberer

    The basic practice:

    While meditating, when you notice that your mind has wandered off, pause and notice where your mind has gone, giving that place a brief label. This label can be simple to begin with: "Thinking" "Strong Sensation" "Daydreaming." What tends to captivate your mind the most? 

    As your labeling practice strengthens, you can consider allowing your labeling to become more refined: "Envying" "Disliking" "Reliving" "Future-tripping" "Fearing." 

    It's easy to get judgmental about how and where our mind wanders. It can be helpful to remember that wandering is what the mind was designed to do. It's not about fixing the wandering, but becoming more aware of it.

    This can be particularly helpful as we take the labeling practice off the cushion and into life. Then we can add some curiosity about when the wandering has been helpful or not. Sometimes it is.

    "A note on Noting" by Stephen Levine: On our Learning blog

    Meditations on Insight Timer:

    Noting your emotions by Kristin Neff (of Mindful Self-Compassion fame)

    Mental Noting by mPeak

    Mental Noting Practice by Mindspace

    And this one is an Open Awareness practice, but Tim incorporates a Labeling practice within it:

    Open Awareness by Mindfulness Northwest

  • 1 Dec 2017 11:52 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    by Michael Kelberer

    One way we can expand and deepen our secular mindfulness and compassion practices is by exploring the Buddhist roots from which they grew. The basic secular practices are generally described in terms of modern science. The Buddhist roots go back 2,500 years, and can provide a lot of depth and nuance simply not available in the secular texts.

    As you may know, Tim (Burnett, Mindfulness Northwest guiding teacher) and his co-leaders have been exploring these roots at our longer retreats for a couple of years. Some of these "Roots" talks can be found on our website:

    For a broader dive, there is a nice library of Dharma Talks by Tim (as Guiding Teacher of the Red Cedar Zen Community) and visiting Zen Priests on the Red Cedar Zen Community website:

    An update on the science

    Not to diminish the importance of the growing body of science supporting our mindfulness practices! There are a couple of articles in the current Lion's Roar magazine on "what we know and what we don't" - a look at which of the more than 6,000 research papers on mindfulness really stand on solid ground. One of those is available on the Greater Good website: The State of Mindfulness Science. 

  • 15 Nov 2017 11:57 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    by Michael Kelberer

    Sitting Practice

    You can divide meditation practices into two categories based on what is in the foreground and what is in the background of the mind:

    Concentration Practice:  We hold a single object (the breath, body sensations, sounds) clearly in the foreground with all other sensory (including mental) objects in the background.

    Open Awareness Practice: Allow objects to arise into the foreground, be observed, and drop back into the background without judging, choosing or clinging to any of them. 

    You can find a nice set of guided concentration practices, and one open awareness practice on our website here: Sitting Meditation

  • 1 Nov 2017 11:53 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    by Michael Kelberer

    So called "informal practices" are often overlooked by practitioners, but research has shown that they can have a powerful effect on both the practitioner and the people around them. Here's a link to a page on our website that describes four of them: Two Feet and a Breath, R.A.I.N., STOP, and a 3-minute mindfulness of breathing practice:

    Informal Practices

    Try one now:

    Take a quick scan of how you're doing: body, mind, mood.

    Then place your feet flat on the floor, feeling into the solid connection between them and the ground. Take a slow breath in. And a slow exhale out.

    Now how are you doing?

    That's it - the Two Feet and a Breath practice :-)

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