Training for Meditation and Better Health

Compassion Meditation Training Schedule

This is an outline of an 8-week compassion meditation training protocol. Each week focuses on developing particular skills.

Week 1

Training components: Developing attention and stability of mind

Introduction of basic meditation techniques for focusing attention for increasingly longer periods of time. These techniques are included in the practice of all subsequent compassion meditation components.

Week 2

Awareness of sensations, feelings, and emotions: Often we are aware of only our reactions to feelings and sensations, rather than the feelings and sensations themselves.

This practice hones our attention to subjective experience, and provides the meditator with practice in separating emotions and reactions.

Week 3

Developing compassion for oneself through the wish to emerge from suffering

Introduction of techniques to develop awareness of how thoughts and actions contribute to subjective experiences of happiness or suffering, and techniques to increase identification of habitual, conditioned reactions.

Week 4

Cultivating equanimity

Introducing practices designed to challenge unexamined thoughts and feelings determining categories of friend, enemy, and stranger; introducing the perspective that all persons are alike in wanting to be happy.

Week 5

Developing appreciation and affection8

It is common to feel appreciation only for a few close others whose actions on our behalf are easy to observe and comprehend. Yet every day we reap the benefits of the actions of countless others. We practice becoming aware of those others, and become grateful to them.

Week 6

Empathy

Techniques will be presented for developing undifferentiated affection for others, based on the many ways that others benefit us each day. The meditators will be introduced to the concept of empathy for others: identifying with their happiness and suffering alike.

Week 7

Wishing and aspirational compassion

Using the concepts of appreciation and empathy as a starting point, the meditator will be guided toward the first stages of compassion: the wish that all beings might be happy and free of suffering, and the aspiration to help them achieve that.

Week 8

Active compassion for others

The meditation training culminates in the generation of active compassion: practices introduced to develop a determination to work actively to alleviate the suffering of others. When this training is successful, this state of mind becomes ingrained and spontaneous.

Mindfulness Attention Training Schedule

Mindfulness, and increased awareness can lead to positive life changes. The following mindfulness attention training schedule is like mindfulness meditation for beginners.

Week 1

Settling the body and respiration in their natural state.

Introduction of basic techniques for relaxing the body and settling the respiration in its natural rhythm.

Week 2

Mindfulness of the breathing with relaxation.

Introduction and elaboration of practices for learning to calm the conceptually discursive mind for the purpose of attenuating involuntary thoughts.

Stability of attention is practiced with the goal of sustaining attention for longer periods.

Week 3

Mindfulness of the breathing with relaxation and stability.

Continuing practice of techniques designed to instill a deepening sense of physical and mental relaxation, stillness, and vigilance.

When successful, involuntary thoughts subside and vividness of attention gradually increases.

This gives rise to an overall sense of greater presence, calm, and equilibrium.

Week 4

Mindfulness of the breathing, with relaxation, stability, and vividness.

Continuing practice of techniques designed to instill a deepening sense of physical and mental relaxation, stillness, and vigilance.

When successful, involuntary thoughts subside and vividness of attention gradually increases.

This gives rise to an overall sense of greater presence, calm, and equilibrium.

Week 5

Settling the mind in its natural state, part one (i. e., mindfulness of mental events).

Introduction of practices for further refining the meditator’s meta-cognitive abilities, with the goal of attenuating the immediate and habitual absorption in one’s thoughts that characterize most mental functioning.

When successful, insight into the nature of the mind and its activities is achieved.

Week 6

Settling the mind in its natural state, part two.

Continued practice with the goal of developing increased relaxation, stillness of awareness in the midst of mental activities, and vividness, together with heightened meta-cognitive abilities to observe mental states and processes without identifying with them.

Week 7

Awareness of awareness, part one

In this final technique, relaxation, stillness, and vividness of attention continue to be enhanced, leading to a perception of the process of becoming aware, as opposed to only perceiving the contents of awareness.

Week 8

Awareness of awareness, part two

As the meditator develops greater facility with this practice, the mind rests in its own luminosity and awareness.

When successful, this practice leads to insight into the nature of consciousness itself.

Health Discussion Training Schedule

This training schedule explores an 8-week program devoted to the top 10 things we can do to improve our health.

Week 1

Interacting with our environment

After introducing the students to each other and to the class, we will introduce the first of the top 10 things we can do to improve our health: interact with our environment, which improves mood and fosters a sense of well-being (1).

Week 2

The things we put in our bodies

The second item on the list relates to hydration, for proper physical and mental function (2). We will introduce the importance of small changes in diet for nutrition and long-term health, particularly eating breakfast (3) and eating more fruits and vegetables (4).

Week 3

Interacting with the healthcare system

This module will help participants to better understand health-related information, and to interact with healthcare providers most effectively (5).

Week 4

Maintaining healthy relationships

Strong social ties create better health, by improving immune function, protecting heart health, and warding off depression and anxiety (6).

Week 5

The role of exercise in physical health

Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease and helps attain and maintain a healthy weight (7).

Week 6

The role of exercise in emotional health

Regular exercise can decrease depression and anxiety and improve overall mood (8).

Week 7

Time out

Regular and sufficient sleep, as well as quiet relaxation time, are essential to physical and mental health (9).

Week 8

Stop stressing

Stress is unavoidable; the key is to recognize it. One component of stress management is learning and implementing healthier emotional expression (10).

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