(a class teaching different meditation techniques) Click here for information about the MBSR course and to register
Taught by Elizabeth Perryman and Jill Zastko
By Beth Parenteau
What drew me to the course?
After a handful of years taking courses on meditation, reading on the subject, and attempting a regular practice, I found myself frustrated with the results and craving something I knew existed, but could not quite grasp. Taking Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at Kosha Yoga filled something I had been looking for for many years. I feel comfortable saying that through practices learned in this course I am now more at ease with many aspects of myself. I will tell you these details later.
What was class time like?
After deciding to take this class, my greatest challenge was to set aside not only 2½ hours a week for the class meeting, but also 45-60 minutes six days a week for homework assignments! I chose to commit to this experience, however, so I figured it out and found the time!
Elizabeth and Jill made great use of class time by varying activities so that things flowed comfortably. Time was spent learning about MBSR itself, hearing descriptions of different styles of meditation, and actually practicing the meditations. I didn’t expect there to be such a variety of meditation styles. Being still is not always easy for me, so I especially appreciated the meditations which offered physical movement as part of the process. There was also plenty of time for questions, and for sharing experiences, struggles, and successes with others in the course. I came to look forward to the “me” time these classes offered, and I always left feeling calm, strong, and refreshed.
If class time was the backbone of this course, then the muscle was the homework which was a basic expectation for each of us. Jill and Elizabeth even committed and followed the assignments right along with us! These meditation practices were guided by recordings made by our teachers which told us how to sit, stand, lie or move, how to breathe, and what to think about. I can’t express how boring and frustrating these sessions were at first! I considered giving up – feeling that either I was just incapable or that this must be a lot of whooey! The key is here, however: with Elizabeth and Jill’s gentle support and encouragement, I stuck with it. I practiced (most) every day. I dedicated time and a space to this endeavor and eventually the process actually got easier! The smoother days came more and more often and I began to notice moments throughout my day when benefits of meditation were subtly starting to appear.
Another important aspect of the MBSR experience was the day-long silent retreat which took place between our 6th and 7th class meeting. On this Saturday we practiced many of the now-familiar meditations and we learned a couple of new methods. I. Loved. This Day. If I could, I would participate in one of these retreats on a monthly basis.
What have I gained through taking this class?
A piece of our weekly homework assignments included “cultivating moments of mindfulness” which means to stop and just be keenly aware of what is happening within and without. Perhaps it’s stopping to savor the lilac scent drifting in through the kitchen window. Maybe it’s clearing your mind to notice the feel of warm water flowing down your back during a shower. My first realization that the MBSR experiences were having an effect on me was when I noticed that these moments of mindfulness just came to me without any intention! My senses had come alive and I was enjoying my surroundings like never before!
We had been asked to turn off our phones during class time but I started leaving mine in the car. This became a habit and after a few weeks I started leaving my phone behind during other activities. I love the freedom this allows me, especially when I have a chance to sit and really connect with someone. My attention is not scattered. I love being undivided.
Other changes I’ve noticed include that I am now able to be more accepting of realities I have no control over. There is more often a simple sense that everything will be alright so there is no benefit to worry. I now experience less inner struggle, find decision making easier, and am more focused on the here and now.
Why did I take this class a second time?
The MBSR class was brimming with information and rich experience. After completing the 8-week course, I knew that there had been much more offered than I was able to hang on to. My meditation practice was solidifying and I wanted this to continue to grow, so I decided to take the course a second time! It was well worth it and, although there were similarities to the first class, many offerings were new and everything seemed fresh. This speaks to creative and knowledgeable teachers!
What tips do I have for new participants?
Set aside previous thoughts and experiences of meditation.
Assume the positive.
Taking the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction classes was an amazing experience and I have learned and grown through it! I’m keenly aware, however, that I have only lightly scratched the surface of meditation and mindfulness and I am eager to broaden my practice. The most important thing I want to share with you, though, is that I feel this class has given me the tools to continue to move forward on this path. What could be better than that?
Kosha will be offering an 8 week MBSR class this fall. Kosha Yoga is located at 1500 W. Littleton Blvd. Unit 110B in Littleton, CO.
Free orientation is Sunday August 12th form 3-4:30 and also on Sunday August 26th 3-4:30. The 8 Week MBSR class starts on Sept. 9th and ends on October 28th, 3-5:30pm, with an all day class on October 13th from 9-5pm.