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Preparing for the Sydney Teacher Training Retreat

TTa Students: Required Reading, Mindful Movement and Mindfulness in Daily Life Diaries

Required Reading:

The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness  by Segal, Teasdale, Williams & Kabat Zinn

The Mindful Path to Self Compassion – freeing yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions by Christopher K, Germer, PHd.

Please read the course notes for both the Mindfulness for Heath and Mindfulness for Stress courses. If you need these notes sent to you, please contact us at info@breathworks.co.uk

Please also read, listen to, and view the booklet, CDs and DVD in the Mindful Movement Pack.

Mindful Movement and Mindfulness in Daily Life Diaries

Finally, please complete diaries for Mindful Movement and Mindfulness in Daily life. Mindful Movement diaries should be kept for two weeks using the movements introduced on your first training retreat, the Mindful Movement weekend, and the pack. Mindfulness in Daily Life diaries begin on week three of the course, Chapter 6 in the book. You'll find worksheets in the workbook given to you on TTi. Please keep your pacing diary for a week and complete the analysis and setting of baselines.

As part of your preparation for Teacher Training we ask you to keep meditation, Mindful Movement and daily activity diaries using the Mindfulness for Health CD or downloads from the website. A number of trainees have told us that they are not sure what to write in these diaries, so this document will explain why we ask you to keep these diaries and what we are looking for when you are preparing for Teacher Training Introduction (TTi) or Teacher Training Advanced (TTa).

  • Teacher Training Introduction (TTi)

Meditation Diaries

We ask you to keep diaries of your meditation practice because, in training to work with people who are suffering, whether with chronic pain or illness, or through stress of any kind, you will be inviting people to work with their conditions in a certain way. In order to do this effectively you have to be working with yourself, perhaps your own suffering, in this way. It's one thing to know the theory of mindfully working with yourself and another thing to actually practice it. Our old, ingrained mental habits can be hard to uproot, and sometimes they can be unconscious – we may not even know that we've got them! So while we may be encouraging others, for instance, to pay attention to their discomfort, moving towards it with a kindly attitude, we may not do that with our own discomfort. We may harden against it or try to avoid it.

Writing the diaries can be a way for you to 'objectify' what is essentially a purely subjective experience, and can be a way for you to see any unconscious mental habits that you may have. It also allows us, your trainers, to see what you are actually doing in your meditation practice and for us to discuss it with you.

What should you write about?

After listening to the guided practice simply try to describe your experience in the meditation – you can begin with your:

  • Physical sensations e.g feelings of warmth, coolness, contact with the chair or cushion you are sitting on and with the floor underneath your feet or legs. Then describe any pleasant and unpleasant sensations you may be experiencing. How do you respond to the pleasant sensations, and the unpleasant?
  • Emotional state/s. What emotions did you experience? Perhaps you don't know what to call some of them? If so, try to describe them in some way, either with concepts or images. As with the physical sensations, some emotions will be pleasant and others unpleasant. How did you respond to them?
  • Thoughts. Did you manage to watch them arising and let them go or did you get caught up in them? If you did get caught up with them at times, when you 'came to', what was your attitude towards yourself? If appropriate you can write about the content of these thoughts - that may help you to understand yourself better. What kind of thoughts took you away? Perhaps you had thoughts about the meditation practice itself, or even about the keeping of the diary.


Try to be really honest with yourself and try to describe what actually happens. Of course you may fear that if you are too honest in your diary, the trainer who reads it may fail you! This is highly unlikely. In fact the more honest you are, even about those aspects of your practice where you feel you are deficient in some way, the more this will demonstrate that you are working with yourself in an effective way.

Please try to write at least at least one paragraph for each day of the diary, but not more than half a page (if typed).

  • Teacher Training Advanced (TTa)

Mindful Movement Diaries

These can be a little more tricky to write than the meditation diaries, as you will probably still be learning the movements. However, where possible describe not only which movements you did on any particular day, but also how you worked in them. You can obviously try to describe what your physical sensations were as you moved, but also include your emotional states and thoughts.

Mindfulness in Daily Life Diaries

These are described in detail in Mindfulness for Health and the book includes diary sheets. If you don't suffer from chronic pain or illness you will have to 'measure' something else. It could be stress, anxiety, fatigue, or you may simply want to explore a tendency to do too much! Talk to Training Programme staff if you have questions.

Diary Format

Please type your diary entries if possible, or if you are going to write them, please try to make sure they are legible. In exceptional circumstances we will accept voice-recordings – contact Training Programme staff to discuss this.

Confidentiality

The only people who will read your diaries are the trainers on the Teacher Training retreat. The diaries will provide the basis of a one to one discussion with a trainer during the retreat and will be returned to you afterwards.