Can you learn Mindfulness from a book? Below is a transcript of the conversation presented by Brighton Mindfulness Centre, where Jon Wilde and Andy Darling are interviewed by Gerard Evans and discuss the question ‘Can you learn Mindfulness from a book?’.  The full one-hour video can be accessed by clicking here for our main Mindfulness FAQ page.  Other Mindfulness questions are answered in this and other videos on this site.

View of a lakeGerard: That leads me on to other questions on my list that were supposed to be later, but are just so relevant to this.  So Jane asks, is it possible to learn from a book – and Anna over in New York City asks just very simply, how do I get into this?  So I guess I can join those two together.  If you’re looking at learning from a book, you might be in a situation where you don’t know who to connect to.  Where you don’t know where the teachers are, or maybe you’re just not comfortable with the idea of being in a group and so on and so forth.  So how do people get into mindfulness?  If I don’t live in Brighton and there aren’t teachers in every street?

Jon: The important thing for me, particularly during the eight weeks of a course, is grounding yourself in the experience – sorry, in the practice.  Grounding yourself in the practice.  And as we just said, and both agreed, the best way of doing that undoubtedly is being taught by a good teacher either in a one to one situation or in a group situation.

Skype Mindfulness Courses

Jon:  if you haven’t got a local teacher then there are good teachers you can find who are willing to work on a one-to-one basis via something like Skype.

Gerard: Including your good self, of course. (Click here for more info about our Skype Mindfulness Courses)

Jon: Including myself.  Thank you very much.  And that can be very effective and very beneficial.  I think once you get into the book and he’s correct I mean look for a book that includes a CD of guided meditations because those are important at the very start.  I know people have come to mindfulness from in a kind of Scottish or kind of way.  Were they watch random demonstrations or listen to random guided meditations on something like Youtube.

There’s no there’s nothing wrong with that per se but the key word for me is structure.  What you’re really looking for particularly in that first eight weeks is something that’s very structured.  Because that structure is where you’re going to get the grounding in the practice.

Dharma Training

Andy: When I first was learning mindfulness and stuff we call it Dharma training.  And a lot out of this we’re training because it gives that sense of structure of discipline.  Using this as a crossword to somebody.  I think you do need that sort of discipline and structure.  It’s so easy to end up in the You Tube spiral of one leads to another to another to another.  And in the end you’re watching a video of Charlie Caroli.

Jon: All roads lead to Charlie Caroli!

Andy: Of course they do.

Gerard: So yeah I should mention that underneath this video there will be details about a contact Jon if people do want to come and have a Skype course with you if they’re in the Sussex area.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon: Yeah I was going to say so and more about structure.  If you got a structure on an eight week course if you’ve created that structure for yourself or you have been given that structure then I think it’s worth burning mind.  I mean Jon Kabat-Zinn is fond of saying that mindfulness is simple but it’s not easy and the bit that’s not easy is sustaining the practice.  It can be quite challenging for people to build this into their lives.  Another thing that Jon Kabat-Zinn is fond of saying is the ninth week of the course is the rest of your life.  Okay?  So after nine weeks you pretty much adrift a teacher like yourself would offer kind of follow up days and follow up many courses and all kinds of things and you can certainly plug in that way but I think in terms of sustaining practice and keeping an interest in for yourself.  That’s why structure is equally important.

Andy: And with that structure often for people I do think a sense of community is really important.  And there will be meetup groups; there will be all sorts of possibilities.  All areas have meet-up groups.  It’s an international phenomenon I guess.  And I think that’s really really important.  That shared experience to compare notes.  It always very easy to think I drifted off or I did mindfulness or I did that well and to feel shame perhaps.  I dropped off or I don’t do so much.  But to compare notes which makes us human.  When we compare notes.

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