Guided practice sessions

The Contemplative Studies Centre is delighted to invite you to these guided practice sessions, made specially available throughout lockdown. You will have the opportunity to try guided meditation practice with expert teachers from many different faith and wisdom traditions.

Why should I join?

There are hundreds of scientific articles that report numerous benefits of mindfulness practices across a broad variety of domains, including improvements in anxiety, depression, chronic pain, well-being, emotion regulation, and many other areas. Beyond that, the practice has the potential to lead to profound transformations in the way that you relate to and indeed experience, your experience.

It is important to note, however, that mindfulness is not relaxation and while it is simple, it is not an easy practice. It’s not a thing that you do, it’s a way of being with yourself and your world. Try to let go of your expectations for how the practice will be or what you will experience and give yourself permission to just experience whatever arises. That doesn’t mean you will resign if the experience is bad, unpleasant, or seriously negative but it does mean that you put aside, just for a short while, all your roles, identities, and obligations. Think of it as you might a weary traveller who puts down their bags to rest. We invite you to put down the “baggage” of all your roles, expectations, tasks, responsibilities, whether defined by you or others, for the time that you are practicing.

When the practice is over, you can (and in some cases, probably should) pick “the bags” back up. For the period that you join us, know that you needn’t do anything or be anywhere other than you are. You just need to be.

What should I consider before joining?

Mindfulness is not for everyone.

While mindfulness practices can be profoundly helpful for some, they are not universally beneficial. Not only do some people dislike it but some people actually see a worsening of existing problems or the emergence of entirely new problems. Estimates of negative events seem to range from around 5% (more serious) to as many as 20% (broader definition of discomfort, distress, etc.) of people, depending on how you define them. These problems are varied and we encourage you to carefully think about them before jumping into a mindfulness and/or meditation practice.

Mindfulness practice is not a substitute for medical care. If you are experiencing any of the following, we would actually discourage you from attending:

  • Active or recent physical addiction to alcohol or other drugs
  • Current depression
  • Suicidality
  • Psychosis
  • History of unexplored/untreated trauma or Post-traumatic stress disorder

If you are experiencing any of these things, you should seek help from standard medical professionals:

Below is a diagram that entails some benefits and drawbacks for you to consider.

A picture containing wheel, device

Description automatically generated

Anderson et al. (2019). Journal of Cognitive Enhancement.