Experiential Learning through Mindfulness
Stressed out, overwhelmed, distracted, or looking to find more satisfaction in your daily life? If so, you may benefit from mindfulness and meditation techniques to alleviate stress, find balance, and achieve more focus and calm in your life. Mindfulness meditation is a very personal form of experiential learning, enabling heightened awareness of your present moment experience and increased self-acceptance and self-understanding. What you learn by paying attention in this way reverberates outward to other areas of your life.
Start with Mindful Breathing.The following instructions for mindful breathing can help you get started:
Try practicing for at least 10 minutes every day. If you find yourself climbing into bed without having practiced on a particular day, sit on the edge of your bed and practice for 5 minutes, or 3 minutes, or even 1 minute. Once you learn the technique, you can pause for a brief "mindful breather" throughout the day (e.g., upon waking up, before you enter class, while waiting in line, etc.).
Listen to Guided Meditations.
For some, it may be preferable to start by listening to guided meditations. The free meditations below range from a few minutes to 20 minutes or more.
- UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center [Start with "Breathing Meditation".]
- University of Vermont Mindfulness Exercises [Start with "Mindfulness of the Breath".]
- Mindful Self-Compassion, Christopher Germer, PhD [Start with “Mindfulness of Breathing”.]
- Guided Exercises by Tara Brach, PhD [Start with “Being-Here”.]
- Dartmouth Guided Audio for Relaxation
Join a Weekly Meditation Group.
With so many cultural pulls away from simply taking a pause in your busy day for quiet time, it can be helpful to find a supportive group with which you can practice mindfulness on a regular basis. Here are some local options:
- New Haven Insight, Mondays and/or Thursdays on Yale Campus (accessible by UNH Shuttle). Talks, instruction, and practice. Free.
- Mindfulness Group, Tuesdays in Hamden. Talks, instruction, and practice, led by Beth Roth, MSN. Recommended donation.
- Mindfulness Practice Group, Thursdays in Hamden. Peer-led practice group. Free.
Take a Free Course Online.
If you want more, there are even some free, self-paced courses online. Here are two:
Read More about Mindfulness.
Learning about the benefits of mindfulness is a great way to build your motivation to keep practicing. Consider trying one of the books below, or go to your favorite bookstore and browse. There are lots of books out there, so find one that resonates with you.
- Meditation for Beginners, by Jack Kornfield. A very accessible introduction, with guided meditations on compact disc.
- Real Happiness, by Sharon Salzberg. A 28-day program for meditation.
- Mindfulness in Plain English, by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. A monk’s non-religious introduction to mindfulness. A free web-based version is also available here.
Hear What Other Have to Say:
You might like to hear what others have said about their experiences practicing mindfulness:
Try a Meditation Timer:
A number of smartphone apps are available that include guided meditations, instructions, and bell timers, such as this one:
- Meditation Timer Free - (iOS) Free (or try their “Pro” version, which is $1, but has no advertisement).
There's also this web-based timer:
- Medivate Meditation Timer - Free web-accessible timer.