How to get started with Mindfulness? 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 ‘Mindfulness – where to start?’. 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.
(This question is a follow on from the previous discussion, Can I learn Mindfulness from a book?)
Gerard: Okay. That leads me on to other questions on my list. Jane asks: is it possible to learn from a book? Anna over in New York City asks 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. You may not know where the teachers are or maybe you’re just not comfortable with the idea of being in a group. So how do people get into mindfulness if they don’t live somewhere like Brighton?
Jon: The important thing for me, particularly during the eight weeks of a course, is grounding yourself in the practice. As we have just said, 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. Second to that, if you haven’t got a local teacher, 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.
Jon: Including myself. Thank you very much. That (working via Skype) can be very effective and very beneficial. Andy is correct. Look for a book that includes a CD of guided meditations because those are important, particularly at the very start. I know people have come to mindfulness in a scattershot kind of way, where they watch random demonstrations or listen to random guided meditations on something like YouTube.
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.
Andy: When I first was learning mindfulness, we called it Dharma training. I like the idea of training. It gives that sense of structure of discipline. ‘Discipline’ is like a cussword to some people but I think you do need that sort of discipline and structure. It’s so easy to end up in the You Tube spiral where one (video) leads to another and then to another… In the end you find yourself watching a video of Charlie Cairoli.
Jon: All roads lead to Charlie Cairoli.
Andy: Of course they do.
Gerard: I should mention that, underneath this video, there will be details about how to contact Jon if people are interested in a Skype course or, if they are in the East Sussex area, a course at Brighton Mindfulness Centre.
Jon: I was going to say a little 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… Jon Kabat-Zinn is fond of saying that mindfulness is simple but it’s not easy. 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 that the ninth week of the course is the rest of your life. Okay? So, after eight weeks, you are pretty much adrift. A teacher like myself would offer follow-up days and follow-up mini-courses. You can certainly re-plug in that way but, in terms of sustaining practice and keeping it interesting for yourself, that’s where structure is equally important.
Andy: In terms of structure, a sense of community can be really important for people. Most areas have meet-up groups (through which you can connect with like-minded people). That’s really important. That shared experience where you can compare notes. It always very easy to let the practice drop off and maybe there will be a little shame around that. But to meet up and share experiences, that’s a very human thing.
(The Mindfulness conversation continues with the next question “xxxxxxxx” at xxxxxx)