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Beginner’s guide to a mindful life
4.8 star rated on Insight Timer
A step by step, easy to follow course that will teach you how to meditate and bring mindfulness to your daily life.
What you’ll learn
This course is for complete beginners and anyone that would like to refresh or deepen their meditation practice. On this 30 day journey you’ll begin by learning the basics of meditation and mindfulness and how they can help us to feel calmer and less caught up in the constant stream of thinking. Then we’ll go a little deeper by exploring our often turbulent relationship with the present moment and how we can be more at peace with what comes up in daily life through the practices of acceptance, self kindness and gratitude. Finally you’ll learn my favourite practices for bringing mindfulness out into everyday life, whether you’re at work, at home, on the move, or when we need a few minutes in the day to reset.
Along the way you’ll learn scientifically proven mindfulness based reduction techniques to help you to shift out of the stress cycle, work with challenging thoughts and emotions and live life with a greater sense of peace, presence and happiness. You’ll also learn about recent and pioneering research in neuroscience that proves meditation and mindfulness can actually rewire our brains in a very positive way.
1: Course Introduction
Today is a gentle introduction to the course that will set the stage for your journey ahead. You’ll learn what meditation and mindfulness are and how they can help you to live significantly more of your life in the present moment with a sense of peace and joy. We’ll also take a look at how we are often caught up in the past and future, and rarely allow ourselves to be in the present moment.
2: The basics of meditation
Today you’ll learn the basics of meditation, from how to sit comfortably to how to work with a wandering mind. Together we’ll explore the power of the breath in helping us to shift back into the present moment. You’ll also learn about the neuroscience of meditation and how it can actually change your brain in a very positive way. This is called neuroplasticity.
Today we’ll explore how we spend much of our lives on autopilot, unaware of what’s really happening around us and lost in our thoughts. In this mode we are more likely to “get our buttons pushed” and respond in an unhelpful reactive manner to unpleasant events that can trigger negative thoughts, feelings and emotions. Mindfulness can help us to shift out of this mode and return back to our senses. We’ll also explore the seven pillars of mindfulness and how they can help us to navigate life with a greater sense of calm. Finally, you’ll learn another breathing meditation technique that can help the wandering mind.
4: Our wandering mind
Today you’ll learn how to work with the wandering mind and not get pulled into the content of your thoughts so easily. Thoughts play a huge part in how we perceive the world around us and if left unchecked they can often take us down some negative paths. You’ll learn a meditation technique that will help you to get less caught up in thinking.
5: Watching the thinker
Today we’ll explore some of the challenges that can come up in meditation such as boredom, frustration and worrying if we’re doing it right. We’ll also have a closer look at how thoughts can shape our present moment experience and you’ll learn another helpful way to work with and relate to thoughts.
6: Choiceless awareness
Today you’ll learn the practice of choiceless awareness. This practice is about allowing our mind to wander off a little to see where it goes, rather than constantly trying to keep it in check by returning to our breath. This practice is a great way to take the rigidity out of meditation and bring a little curiosity and playfulness to it. You’ll also learn a really simple and effective mindful practice that you can use with unhelpful thoughts when you’re out and about in daily life.
7: Connecting with your body
Today you will reconnect with your forgotten body as a way to shift back into your felt senses and out of the constant stream of thinking. When we’re more in tune with our bodies, we are more able to recognise and respond to body states such as hunger, tiredness and anxiety with kindness and wisdom. We will also reflect on all of the distractions that can pull us away from sitting down to meditate and you’ll learn some more facts about the neuroscience of meditation for a bit of motivation.
8: Befriending your body
Today you’ll learn how body awareness can help you to break the stress cycle, step out of thinking and move towards to a sense of calm. The stress cycle begins with an unpleasant event which can trigger our flight, flight or freeze response. From there we can have negative thoughts which feed emotions. These emotions show up in our bodies as unpleasant sensations and can feed more thoughts and increase our reaction to the stressful situation. Mindfulness offers an alternative path by bringing you to the physical experience of stress with a gentle, curious awareness.
9: Releasing tension in the body
Stress can often appear in our bodies as tension, tightness and a sense of pulling or pushing. Our usual reaction is to avoid or push away these sensations which usually feeds them and gives them more momentum. Today you’ll learn a powerful mindfulness breathing practice of offering these sensations acceptance, kindness and care as a way of releasing and softening tension and anxiety.
10: Connecting with emotions
Today we’ll recap on the course so far, consolidating learning around the basics of meditation and key concepts of mindfulness. Today will also be an introduction to the next part of the course where we’ll explore working with emotions using mindfulness. You’ll learn how emotions can play a part in the stress cycle and how to step back from intense emotions to gain more clarity, space and a sense of calm.
11: Your emotional landscape
Today is a deep meditation exploring how your emotions manifest in your inner world and how you relate to them when they arise. This is a foundation practice for day 12 where we’ll be exploring how emotions show up in our bodies and how we can work with the more intense feelings we all experience in daily life, with mindfulness.
12: Emotions and body awareness
Today we’ll expand on yesterday’s meditation practice by exploring how emotions can show up in our bodies. This is a way to take a step back from our emotions to see them more clearly and gain a deeper insight into their true nature. You’ll also learn useful ways to change your relationship with challenging feelings and body sensations using the mindful awareness you’ve been cultivating on this course so far. These practices can also be used to work with pain, tension and anxiety.
13: Mindfulness in action
Today we’ll explore practical applications of mindfulness in daily life and how the awareness you’ve been cultivating on this course can help you work with challenging situations. We’ll also go back in time and have a look at how our brains have evolved to be so reactive and often unhelpful in the modern world.
14: Going deeper into thoughts
Today is a mindfulness meditation practice that draws comparisons between thoughts and sounds as a way to shift our identification with thinking. This practice is also a wonderful way to gain a deeper insight into who we truly are underneath that constant stream of thinking.
15: Breathing space
Today we’ll be bringing together everything you’ve learned on the course so far in a short meditation that you can use in any part of your day. This will be the first of many portable practices I will be teaching you on the course. We’ll also reflect on how our reactions and interpretations can shape our present moment experience and why mindfulness is key in really experiencing and enjoying the richness of life with all the ups and downs.
16: Breathing into stillness
Today we’ll explore the importance of stillness and non-doing as a way to come back to what is most important – our sense of wellbeing. We’re so used to our days being filled with responsibilities and distractions that we can almost feel a discomfort or some guilt in doing nothing at all. Today is about embracing this stillness and connecting with your breathing as a way to gently return to a sense of authenticity, calm and presence.
17: Self kindness
Today you’ll learn about the importance of having a good relationship with yourself. The relationship we have with ourselves shapes our entire perception of reality and our relationships with others. It’s incredibly important to be at peace with who we are and accept ourselves with all our imperfections and flaws. I’ll also introduce the idea of connecting to your heart as a way of opening to life and accepting who we are and what life sends us each day. We’ll also explore what it is to be a human being and who we really are underneath our life story.
18: Opening to life
We’re constantly trying to change our external circumstances to fit our fairly narrow view of what we need to be happy, but what if we could be more at peace with what we have and what we are right now? Today is a meditation around opening your heart to however you are right now. This is a very gentle but powerful practice of self kindness, you will create a space where you can just be yourself in a state of present awareness. It can be incredibly freeing to have a space each day to let go of who we think we should be or who we think other people think we should be and just be ourselves, just as we are.
19: Self acceptance
Today we’ll continue our practice of self kindness and heart awareness with a meditation on self acceptance. We are our biggest critic and our own negative self talk can often give us a feeling of unworthiness or that we’re not complete just as we are. This negativity can block us from feeling comfortable in our own skin, being at peace with the present moment, going for new opportunities and taking risks in life.
Today we’ll explore the fact that our brains are wired to look at the negative so we actually need to look for the positives in life. In our meditation we’ll explore gratitude and move our awareness to what’s actually going on right in this present moment. In doing this we can cultivate a greater appreciation of the little things in our life and get less caught up in how we view our projected future or current life circumstances, which are often coloured by our past conditioning rather than being the absolute truth.
21: Conscious relationships
We need relationships for our survival and today is about connecting with our shared human experience of empathy and kindness, and finding a way to soften the more challenging relationships we all have in our lives. This practice can help to shift stuck relationships and open up new possibilities for forgiveness and acceptance. We’ll also continue to explore gratitude as a way to be open to the present moment and be less caught up in the past and our projected future.
22: Wake up a little lighter
Today we’ll be doing an energising and uplifting morning meditation that will help you to step out of negative self talk when you first wake up and start your day with a smile. That moment we wake up in the morning can be coloured with thoughts and feelings which if left unchecked can send us down some unhelpful paths. Waking up with a low mood or negative chatter in our head doesn’t mean the rest of our day must follow this tone. A gentle morning meditation can turn everything around and allow us to move beyond those first imprints of our morning.
23: Peace walking
Today we’re going to bring the mindful skills you’ve been cultivating during this course to the action of walking. Mindful walking can help us to be more in tune with our bodies in daily life and notice how we’re relating to the world around us. This portable meditation can be used anytime you’re in motion and can help you to shift out of fight, flight or freeze mode and into a state of calm and presence.
24: Mindful eating
How often do you really taste and savour the food you eat? Eating is often a means to an end so today we’re going to bring back the enjoyment and satisfaction of eating through an informal meditation practice. You can do this practice at home, at work or when you’ve prepared a special meal. One of the other benefits of mindful eating is that you’ll be aware sooner when you’re full and won’t overeat. We’ll only have so many meals in our life so it’s a shame not to enjoy them. Bon appetit!
25: Everyday mindfulness
Today we’re going to explore the importance of bringing mindfulness to the seemingly mundane tasks in our day and making them a daily informal meditation practice. We’ll be bringing a curious mindful attention to washing up or loading a dishwasher as a way to turn what is usually a means to an end into a restorative pause. This practice is also about becoming aware of how we relate to the present moment and continues the practice of opening to life whatever it sends us.
26: Calm amongst the chaos
Today we’re going to take mindfulness for a walk through a busy place to explore the possibility that peace and calm can still arise within us even when the world around us seems overwhelming. Our meditation today is one of my favourite informal practices that draws upon all the skills you’ve been cultivating throughout the course. Key components include breath and body awareness and a kindness practice that can help to soften our experience of others around us.
27: Arriving well
Today we’ll reflect a little more on yesterday’s practice of being the witness of our inner and outer experience and we’ll explore how we open and close our heart to different experiences in our day. You’ll learn a short meditation practice for settling and relaxing when you arrive in a new place. How often do you take the time to settle and adjust when you arrive somewhere? It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of a new place and it can be challenging to let go of any stress or busyness we carry from our journey there too. This meditation can be used when you get into work, arrive home, when you attend a social event or just as an SOS meditation when you’re feeling overwhelmed. This is a wonderful way to reset, relax and refocus.
28: Stealth mindfulness
It’s time to get up from your desk for a little stealth office wander! Today is a fun meditation that builds on the walking practices you’ve done so far on the course. Once again you’ll be bringing equanimity to your inner and outer landscape and connecting with a sense of stability and stillness. In particular, you’ll be exploring how we can all get pulled into the energy of particular relationships at work.
29: Continuing your adventure
Today we’ll do a recap of everything you’ve learnt on this course and you’ll find out how to integrate all the teachings and meditations into your everyday life. This is an ending before an ending as day 30 will be a meditation to help you to process the course, let go, move on and return to a place of stillness.
30: Letting go and moving on
Today is a gentle meditation to acknowledge the personal journey you’ve been on. It will also help you to let go of self judgements about where you think you should be at the end of the course and close this adventure as another one begins.