Intro to Mindfulness through the Insight Meditation lens
Mindfulness is a practice that is used in many traditions. You can find the practice of different types of mindfulness – Christian, Sufi, Jewish, Muslim, Stoic, Buddhism, Hinduism, and so on. In the Insight tradition, which is connected to the Buddhist lineage, mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zin as being “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
Below, you’ll find resources that guide you through the practice of mindfulness, also known as meditation, on the fundamentals of mindfulness meditation: Breath, Body, Emotions, Thoughts, and the Compassion practices. The meditations and recommendations here are specifically for the people who are taking my Intro to Meditation class. May you find this a useful guide to develop your own insight practice.
I’ve included meditations of varying lengths to fit your schedule, your inclinations and your life. Pick and choose what works best for you!
Class 1: Intro to Mindfulness – What is mindfulness?
In our first class, we talk about what mindfulness is (see above), and then practice giving our attention to our breath. One of the common Insight Meditation anchors is the breath – since it is always available to you. An anchor is the object of our attention that we come back to each time we find ourselves lost in thought. Our minds think like our mouths secrete saliva, so to begin a mindfulness practice, we establish a few different possible ways to draw our attention back to the present moment.
I want to encourage you to try out meditating, daily if possible, and finding your anchor. Our meditation anchor is what we bring our attention back to when we notice that our thoughts have wandered. It’s where we place our attention while we meditate. This article outlines alternatives to breath as an anchor – mainly just pointing out that you can use other parts of your body or sound as well.
Meditations to try out for an Intro to Mindfulness:
- Breath Awareness – Dawn Mauricio on Insight Timer (6 min)
- Breathing Meditation – Jack Kornfield on Insight Timer (8 min)
- Basic Body Scan and Breath Meditation – Tara Brach on Insight Timer (10 min)
- Listening Meditation – Mark Coleman for Prana (7 min)
- The Silence that is Listening – Tara Brach (14 min)
Class 2: Mindfulness of Body
We spent time reflecting on our experience over the last week of meditating or not and talked through a few questions. Then we did a short practice reviewing mindfulness of breath followed by a talk on mindfulness of the body. We did another meditation, noticing the sensations that arise in our body as we sit and pay attention to our breath.
Meditations on Mindfulness of Body
Whether you try the following meditations or something different, see if you can make a short period of time to sit, stand, lie down, or walk as a meditation for 5 minutes or so. You can choose an anchor – your breath, the sounds around you, your bodily sensations and set a timer to sit.
- Basic Body Scan and Breath Awareness – Tara Brach (11 min)
- Body Scan – Dawn Mauricio (8 min)
- Mindfulness of Breath and Body – Mark Williams (8 min)
- Mindful Awareness Meditation – Susan Piver (10 min) – This meditation is body, breath, and mind
- Body Scan Meditation – Jon Kabat-Zinn (30 min)
- Body Scan Meditation – Headspace (3 min)
Class 3: Mindfulness of Emotions
The first meditation on this list of possible meditations to try out names why dealing with difficult emotions is important, namely so that we can experience happiness and joy more fully as well! I wanted to include the written version of the explanation here:
“Human beings don’t naturally enjoy feeling sad, angry, or scared. And yet these emotions are a natural part of the human condition. One tool for greatly increasing your happiness is to allow yourself to feel all of your emotions. Think of it as if there’s a giant firehose inside of you that is constantly flowing with emotions of all sorts. As it turns out, when you cut off a feeling like sadness, you also clamp down on your ability to feel emotions like happiness and joy. Because all feelings come from the same place, you can’t just shut off one part of the spigot and close off anger while still allowing yourself to feel just joy. There is just one faucet and it’s either all on or all off.” Lisa Abramson and Vanessa Loder, together as part of Mindfulness Based Awareness.
Here are some meditations to try out this week:
- Befriending Negative Emotions – Sara Brannin-Mooser (9min 30 sec)
- RAIN meditation with Tara Brach (9min 30 sec)
- Emotional States with Dawn Mauricio (7min 30sec)
- Being with Discomfort with Trudy Goodman (5 min)
- Mindfulness of Emotion with Lisa Kring (20 min)
Class 4: Mindfulness of Thoughts
“Who is your enemy? Mind is your enemy. No one can harm you more than a mind untrained. Who is your friend? Mind is your friend. No one can assist you and care for you better than your mind well-trained. Not even the most loving mother or father.” The Buddha
Learning to be mindful of our thoughts helps us to recognize the thoughts that are wholesome and those that are not, helps us to separate from the power of the thoughts, and helps us stay present more fully with what is.
Here are some meditations to try out this week:
- Mindfulness of Thoughts – Beth Kurland (6 min 30 secs)
- Mindfulness of Thoughts – Australian gentleman (8 min 30 secs, first 3 mins are introduction to the practice)
- Mindfulness of Thoughts – One Mind Dharma (5 min)
- Mindfulness of Sound and Thoughts – Jon Kabat-Zinn (10 min)
- Mindfulness of Thinking – Sarah Edelman (10 min 45 secs)
- Mindfulness of Thoughts Guided Meditation – One Mind Dharma (14 min 30 secs)
- Mindfulness of Thinking – Lisa Kring (20 mins)
Two other meditations you might try:
- Increasing Your Tolerance for Discomfort – Dawn Mauricio (14 min 23 secs)
- 10 Minute Guided Meditation – Headspace (10 min)
Class 5: Metta aka Lovingkindness, Gentle Friendliness, or Goodwill
Our 5th class of the series focused on metta, also known as lovingkindness, gentle friendliness, or goodwill. Here is the class recording.
It is not too hard to find a good deal of guided metta meditations, so I’ve included a few different kinds and also threw in a self-compassion meditation. Kaira Jewel Lingo also has some kid friendly meditations that you might try out with your kids. Sharon Salzberg has written extensively on lovingkindness, so I wanted to make sure you had the opportunity to check out her meditations as well.
- Lovingkindness for victims of racism and violence – Susan Piver (22 min, meditation begins 5 mins into recording)
- Self compassion meditation – Kaira Jewel Lingo (9 min)
- Lovingkindness – Dawn Mauricio (9 min)
- Love the many sides of you – Dawn Mauricio (20 min)
- Lovingkindness – Sharon Salzberg (6 min)
- Lovingkindness – Sharon Salzberg (15 min)