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"secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:32 am
by Ben
Hi everyone

This is a request for assistance. I am seeking some resources to commence a 'mindfulness meditation' program at the school my wife and I work at. Its going to be a program that my wife will be directing but she's asked my help. She's a psychologist and has done MCBT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) and other 'mindfulness' workshops and the school is keen to incorporate 'mindfulness' into staff and student wellbeing programs. The thoughts we have about the program at this stage, is that she will lead classes in mindfulness meditation for both staff and students.
I could probably take the mindfulness meditation 'classes' myself but a complication is that due to the requirements of my "tradition", we're not permitted to teach unless we are authorised to do so. I have a profound sense of loyalty to my teacher and I would not do anything to sever my relationship, however noble the intention.

The other complication is that it is a Church school. While they are progressive enough for the school chaplain to invite me to come and introduce Buddhism to their students, I know that teaching "Buddhist" meditation at the school might be a source of complaint and criticism. Launceston is afterall, a very 'churchy' place and in some ways, still very conservative.

So, while I am not intending to lead meditation, I do want to support my wife in being able to direct her to quality resources. So this is where you come in. Do you know of any good mp3 or other audio resources that provide step-by-step instruction for, say, anapana-sati? Ideally, it should be 'secular' in treatment but I am happy to consider some resources that might be 'light' on the Buddhism. And who knows, for some people it could just sow the seed of Dhamma.
Thanks in anticipation.

Ben

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:35 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings Ben,

Check out Malcolm Huxter's MP3s...

http://www.buddhanet.net/audio-meditation.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Especially the one about Peace and Joy with the breath.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:36 am
by Ben
Wow, that was fast.
Thanks mate!

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:46 am
by tiltbillings
Google jon kabat-zinn. He is the father of "secular" mindfulness meditation in terms of its therapuetic potentials. He is someone who has seriously done the practice and is a reliable source.

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 11:19 am
by Moggalana
tiltbillings wrote:Google jon kabat-zinn. He is the father of "secular" mindfulness meditation in terms of its therapuetic potentials. He is someone who has seriously done the practice and is a reliable source.
That would also be my suggestion. There is a video of him leading a Mindfulness session at Google:


Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:21 pm
by Freawaru
Ben wrote:Hi everyone

This is a request for assistance. I am seeking some resources to commence a 'mindfulness meditation' program at the school my wife and I work at. Its going to be a program that my wife will be directing but she's asked my help. She's a psychologist and has done MCBT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) and other 'mindfulness' workshops and the school is keen to incorporate 'mindfulness' into staff and student wellbeing programs. The thoughts we have about the program at this stage, is that she will lead classes in mindfulness meditation for both staff and students.
I could probably take the mindfulness meditation 'classes' myself but a complication is that due to the requirements of my "tradition", we're not permitted to teach unless we are authorised to do so. I have a profound sense of loyalty to my teacher and I would not do anything to sever my relationship, however noble the intention.

The other complication is that it is a Church school. While they are progressive enough for the school chaplain to invite me to come and introduce Buddhism to their students, I know that teaching "Buddhist" meditation at the school might be a source of complaint and criticism. Launceston is afterall, a very 'churchy' place and in some ways, still very conservative.

So, while I am not intending to lead meditation, I do want to support my wife in being able to direct her to quality resources. So this is where you come in. Do you know of any good mp3 or other audio resources that provide step-by-step instruction for, say, anapana-sati? Ideally, it should be 'secular' in treatment but I am happy to consider some resources that might be 'light' on the Buddhism. And who knows, for some people it could just sow the seed of Dhamma.
Thanks in anticipation.

Ben
Hi Ben,

I don't have any mp3 or stuff but a few suggestions regarding Buddhism and Christianity. In my experience the actual meditation techniques (both samatha and vipassana) exist in the Christian traditions, too (I am sure regarding Catholic and Orthodox). The jhanas and elements are described (for example in the Philokalia: here is a taste: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Jhanas/message/17094" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ) and vipassana is also known. The problem is the terminology: vipassana is usually called either "contemplation" (from the greek root "to cut/to divide", aka discernment) leading to wisdom or Witnessing. Witnessing means to take the "View of God" aka insight. In medieval Catholic mysticism the state called "Widow" also clearly is on the insight ladder.

So I think your wife can adapt the Buddhist techniques to Christian culture without any bad conscience as they have been there all along (though not very popular for several hundred years). Switch from "Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha" to "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" if secularity is necessary. I also suggest to try to contact some monasteries, maybe the contemplatives can help with the terminology and the culture.

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 5:15 pm
by Cittasanto
http://info.med.yale.edu/psych/3s/index.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://info.med.yale.edu/psych/3s/training.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

there are a few PDF's here which maybe useful.

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 6:34 pm
by rowyourboat
If you can't why not have your wife teach the MBCT practices? As long as they don't contain CBT elements they are indistuinguishable from Theravada practice. She could go on a MBCT teacher development retreat if she feels she needs extra training. MBCT is secular as it gets and the evidence base behind it opens otherwise closed minds.

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:55 pm
by bodom
tiltbillings wrote:Google jon kabat-zinn. He is the father of "secular" mindfulness meditation in terms of its therapuetic potentials. He is someone who has seriously done the practice and is a reliable source.
Agreed!

:anjali:

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:35 pm
by Ben
Thank you everyone for those great suggestions. We will check them out, as well as any others that are posted in the interim, tonight (our time).

Tilt, Bodom & Moggalana
Thank you for reminding me of Jon Kabat-Zinn: I can't explain why I completely forgot about him!!

RYB
My wife actually uses MBCT as part of her psychotherapy/counselling practice but I guess what she/we were looking for was an existing set of instructions for meditation so that she wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel. And there are different skill sets for leading a person through a counselling session than leading a group through meditation.

Freewaru
Thanks for that background regarding the meditative tradition within Christianity. I think if we changed the terminology to Christian terminology, we will still have people (parents of students) complaining. My wife, while reading through this thread, said that there have complaints about the teaching of yoga at the school. And when I mean yoga, I mean yoga was reduced to its physical component. We believe that if we present meditation as a secular activity, it can be defended very easily with peer-reviewed literature in the fields of education, medicine and psychology.
kind regards

Ben

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:23 pm
by Freawaru
Hi Ben,

It seems to me that Ilse Middendorf's breath therapy is very close to pranayama and hatha yoga (so it is real close to anapanasati) but mainly using modern terminology and science.

http://breathexperience.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I have not been to retreats or so. Just reading a book ("Der Erfahrbare Atem; eine Atemlehre") but it has also audio tapes so I guess it must be the german version of

The Perceptible Breath
by Prof. Ilse Middendorf
Book with audio tapes
Junfermann-Verlag, Paderborn, 1990
$21.95

http://breathexperience.com/literature/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:51 pm
by Kim OHara
Here's another one, Ben :smile:
It's Australian, too - deserves a kookaburra stamp just for that.
I have the discs and think they are great, and it's exactly the secularised-Buddhist meditation you were after. This detailed review isn't available online so I'll post the whole thing.
:namaste:
Kim
Joy of Being: guided meditations and music
Graham Williams and the Lifeflow Meditation Centre with music of Ross Edwards.
ABC Atmospheres 476 6800
RRP $59.95

This beautiful four-disc set from ABC Classics’ ambient label comprises three discs of guided meditations and one of music: a short extract from music by leading Australian composer Ross Edwards introduces and closes each meditation and the last CD presents that music in full.
Graham Williams left Adelaide to study music in France but studied Tibetan Buddhism there as well, going on to ordain as a Tibetan lama and to study in the Burmese tradition. He set up the Lifeflow Meditation Centre in Adelaide on his return to Australia but the meditations he presents here show no trace of Buddhism as such, focusing entirely on the relaxation techniques.

The first three discs present a series of nine ‘spot meditations’, brief exercises which can be done anywhere in about half a minute, and a sequence of longer meditations (12 to 26 minutes). The spot meditations go through awareness of sound in the immediate environment, so that it can be accepted rather than fought; body position, to gain alert but restful physical balance; shoulder stretch and neck massage, to relax the muscles that signal (and contribute to) mental tension; and a simple breathing exercise. The first of the longer meditations is a relaxation exercise which combines and extends some of the short exercises, and then Disc 1 closes with an extended movement meditation.
Disc 2 begins with a basic ‘Watching the Breath’ meditation and continues with a breath-counting variation and two extensions which invite the meditator to visualise the breath flooding and energising the whole body, ‘feeding your body with the breath … drinking it in to your whole body’. The first meditation on Disc 3 extends the preliminary relaxation routine into a full body scan, guiding the meditator around his/her body, bringing sensations to consciousness and constantly reiterating two points: ‘if your awareness drifts away, gently bring it back’ and ‘whether the sensations are pleasant or unpleasant, just let them be, just watch them’. The second, ‘Washing Mind and Body’, leads the meditator to visualise a warm gentle rain washing right through the body and rinsing away physical tensions and negative emotions, while the last two, ‘Acceptance and Kindness’ and ‘All-embracing Kindness’, cultivate positive feelings towards oneself and the world respectively.

Anyone who has learned meditation in any of the Buddhist traditions will recognise most of the techniques presented here, and yoga practitioners will recognise the others. Williams’ biggest practical departure from his sources is in posture: he does allow people to sit on cushions on the floor if they prefer, but he assumes that most will sit on a straight chair. It is a very reasonable choice which removes a large but inconsequential barrier between Westerners and meditation
The teachers (we hear several) have obviously refined their pacing and choice of words with years in front of classes, and their guidance is excellent. Each meditation is introduced by a routine of settling the posture and accepting the sounds in the vicinity – a good idea, since routines aid consistent practice – and book-ended with a minute or two of music. The music is treated respectfully and appropriately in that it introduces and closes each track but not used as background.

The unique conjunction of meditation and contemporary art music here is due to the shared history of the teacher and the composer: Graham Williams (a distinguished pianist in his other life) and Ross Edwards were friends in university days. They went separately to Europe but found they had much in common after they returned, as each of them radically re-defined his practice, of meditation or music, to fit it to the Australian psyche.
The selections on Disc 4 naturally emphasise the contemplative side of Edwards’ work rather than the ecstatic. The best known piece will be the soaring Dawn Mantras, written for performance on the sails of Sydney Opera House on the first morning of the new millennium. Six of the others are drawn from his concertos for guitar, violin, piano and oboe, all in excellent performances by Karin Schaupp, Dene Olding, Dennis Hennig and Diana Doherty with major Australian orchestras. The other two are Yanada for unaccompanied oboe (Doherty again), and the Chorale from Enyato I. All in all they make a lovely introduction to the composer’s work.
The music is beautiful and the whole package is superb. Experienced meditators will find The Joy of Being rewarding, but it really stands out as a perfect introduction to meditation for mainstream Australians. It bypasses any potential cultural or religious obstacles and it presents all the basics of meditation very simply and clearly in a calm, welcoming ambiance.

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:17 pm
by Monkey Mind
The community mental health center where I work, they asked me to create a secular mindfulness training program. They wanted something like the MBCT and MBSR (SR= stress reduction), but they did not want to pay the $$$$ thousands it would cost for certification. And like you, I did not want to be perceived as a "teacher". So I collected mp3's and worksheets from other sources. I like Malcolm Huxter's work, especially the one labelled "Progressive Relaxation". I also have MP3's from Jack Kornfield and Pema Chodron, including an excellent talk from PC on "Sounds True" radio program: "Why We Meditate".

At Buddhanet.net, there are instructions for presenting meditation to kids. I found it easy enough to edit out references to Lord Buddha.

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:20 pm
by Cittasanto
Been looking round my files as I did down load a couple of the pdf from the earlier links and I think these three are the most relevant to help you

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:39 pm
by rowyourboat
Hi Ben

You might know that John Kobbat Zinn was the source for MBCT- some people consider it a bit of a rip off ;-) . So what they do are very similar. MBCT is not therapy, it is actually skills and attitude training (mindfulness and acceptance).

bw

Re: "secular" mindfulness meditation

Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:04 pm
by Cittasanto
just come accross this which you may find helpful if you have any problems with it being a Christian school?

http://www.cofeguildford.org.uk/index.c ... t&cmid=444" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

and a link in one of the PDF's goes here
http://www.breathworks-mindfulness.org.uk/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;