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Developing a life-long practice

Watch Richard talk about some of the ways that you can continue to explore, develop and embed mindfulness practices in your life.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: In this course, we’ve really just planted a seed. I mean, four weeks is a very short period of time to learn about mindfulness and really it’s a lifelong practice. So while we might have established a meditation practice and learned to apply some of the principles in our day to day life, really it’s– it’s about the rest of our lives that’s important. How do we keep this practice going? How do we keep deepening our– our awareness and our mindfulness? When we’re starting out, it can be very useful to use guided meditation practices and we can think about them like training wheels.
It’s great to have someone guiding the practice, reminding us to bring our attention back to the breath, or to cultivate attitudes like acceptance and non-judgment and that– that can really help and once we start to become familiar with meditation, we might want to start experimenting with ditching the recordings, ditching the guidance and just setting an alarm on our phone so that we can start to become independent of guided meditations, because ultimately we want to be able to meditate any time, any where.
It can also be really helpful to find a community of other meditators, so we might want to do a bit of a Google search and see if there are any mindfulness courses or mindfulness drop in classes in our area, because it can be really nice, as I’m sure you’ve discovered through doing this course, to have a community of people who are learning and experiencing these challenges and these benefits to learn from one another and just to feel supported in our practice. And of course, while meditation is a very central part of mindfulness, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg, because remember, mindfulness is about how we live entire lives moment to moment.
So if we’re meditating for 10 minutes a day or 20 minutes a day, excellent, but it’s how we live our lives in the other 23 hours and 40 minutes of the day that really counts. So it’s about bringing mindfulness to our everyday activities, doing those informal practices, like eating our breakfast without a screen and really tasting food and noticing the texture. It’s about walking and feeling our feet hitting the ground and noticing what we see around us.
It’s about being at work and uni tasking and focusing on one thing at a time, listening to our colleagues, giving them our full attention when they’re talking to us, paying attention when we’re speaking, so that we’re doing it without judgments and no self-criticism and so it’s really about how we live each moment of our lives and ultimately, mindfulness is a tool for waking up.
As we start to pay attention to what we’re doing, we just become more and more aware of what we’re thinking and feeling and doing from moment to moment and the effect that that’s having on us and on the people around us and that’s really, I think, the heart of what mindfulness is about, developing self-awareness, waking up and being more aware moment to moment in our lives.

Watch Richard talk about some of the ways that you can continue to explore, develop and maintain mindfulness practices in your life.

Tips for maintaining a mindful life

Go to Downloads for a list of tips to help you live more mindfully and review Frequently asked questions about formal mindfulness practice for establishing and maintaining a formal mindfulness practice. We hope you find these help you continue to develop your practice after the course ends.

Learning and support outside the course

An option for ongoing learning and support is to find a meditation group in your area, if that’s of interest to you.

Although some regions are more isolated than others, there are a growing number classes offered in community centres, schools, health clinics, yoga schools, churches and other religious and spiritual centres.

Our hope is that your experiences and learning on this course will help you quickly work out whether what they are teaching is congruent with mindfulness or not.

Look for classes that embody a sense of listening, respect and openness. It can also be good to look closely at the personal attributes of the teachers/facilitators and any senior students, as this is what you will be cultivating if you practise there.

Forming your own online community

If you’d prefer to connect with others or create a mindfulness-related online community on a social media platform such as Facebook, you’re welcome to do so. However, it must be noted that Monash University and FutureLearn do not monitor or officially endorse it. Richard recommends the Facebook page.

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