Last updated on 10th February 2018
These home practice suggestions link with the "Compassion, wisdom & wellbeing: 2nd session content" blog post. There are seven requests for this next week.
1.) Please would you glance back at the handouts from the second session of the course & jot down further thoughts/feelings on this week's session 2 reflection sheet. What last night felt most interesting & potentially helpful for you ... what felt less clear or less helpful? The series of eight Session reflection sheets you will hopefully have completed by the end the training can provide a succinct, personal way of looking back on the course in the future and reminding yourself what was most important for you.
2.) Try to practise this week's loving-kindness meditation pretty much every day until our next meeting.
3.) Aim to continue practising a 12-breath mini-meditation three times daily. As before explore beginning by reminding yourself why you're doing this practice, and sitting tall & open. Then move through the mindful body scan in just three breaths, and 'name' the state of your internal weather on the fourth. Then a couple of breaths for your values (spine/belly & heart). Then the last six breaths are a sort of mini implementation exercise ... a couple of breaths seeing how (living your values) you'd like the next few hours (until the next breathing space exercise) to evolve, a couple of breaths to sense the likely obstacles, and the last two breaths to see yourself responding to the challenges effectively & heartfully. Here's a 2nd week 9 minute MP3 that explains this a little more fully. Keep a record of how regulary you manage this practice on the four week record sheet. It would make good sense to untag the four week record sheet, the funeral speeches/80th birthday party sheet (whichever of these two how-I'd-like-to-be variants appeals to you more), and the how are you doing at the moment? sheets so that you can write more information on them over the next weeks of the course.
4.) 'Physical reminder' exercise ... please write a new quotation on a piece of paper/card and carry it with you over the week. Last week we worked with a reminder of Heart. This week please carry a reminder of Spine. Here's a link to a download listing many quotations in this area of S-DT's key needs for Autonomy & Competence and Shalom Schwartz's valuing of Self-Direction. Use a quotation from this handout or choose one on this Spine theme from elsewhere that's particularly meaningful to you. Just this year, Emanuel & colleagues surveyed a large representative population sample and reported in their paper "Spontaneous self-affirmation through the day links to increased wellbeing" that stronger agreement with the statement "When I feel threatened or anxious I find myself thinking about my values and/or strengths" was associated with greater happiness, hopefulness, optimism, subjective health, and less anger and sadness. Sounds well worth tapping into! And homework exercises 2.) & 3.) very much do this.
5.) At this second meeting of our course, we took three roles (from our Funeral speeches/80th birthday party sheets) and wrote out what we would most want someone, who knew us in this role, to be able to say about us in the future. Last night, the three roles we chose were one relationship role (possibly the one that describes the relationship that we're using in our loving-kindness practice this week), one work role (typically one about our 'job', but 'home-maker', voluntary worker, and so on are all fine too), and a self-care role. Many people will have one self-care role that covers all activities like exercise, diet, sleep, dependencies/addictions, and maybe too meditation practice, connection with nature, and other areas we personally want to group together under self-care. Some people will put self-care activities under more than one role. This evening I asked that we choose a self-care role that includes how we want to manage with physical exercise and sleep. We then went on to use the goals for roles: how are you doing at the moment? sheet to ask ourselves how we're currently doing in these three roles. What do we 'celebrate' about our current behaviours, what 'needs work' and what 0-100% competency score would we currently give ourselves in this role?
In each of these three roles, please would you try to increase your competency score another step or so during this next week ... probably by tackling some of the 'what needs work' issues. Set yourself challenges that feel a little daunting, but not excessively so. The aim is to stretch, not to break ourselves (and not to stay stuck in the same old patterns either). It's very like how we would approach getting physically fitter. We need to push ourselves a bit, but with kindness & intelligence. And in fact (in our self-care role), it would be great if you could make a bit more progress on exercise (aerobic stamina, general body strength, and interrupting prolonged sitting) and on sleep (for example, are you getting enough, do you want to change going-to-bed or getting-up times?). We'll all vary in how much else we've got on our plates this week, and in how effective we are at following through on our intentions. If you'd like to, use implementation intentions to support you. Stretch not break ...
6.) Complete the VIA Strengths questionnaire (takes about 15 minutes) and get either a free or $20 VIA ME! report. Please bring this report in with you to our third evening next week.
7.) And finally, later on in the week, please complete the S-DT Needs Satisfaction questionnaire again looking back at this current week. Please record your score on your overall progress chart. More details can be found in "Compassion, wisdom & wellbeing: course questionnaires".
Good luck with all of this. Contact Kirsty or me if you have any queries. Some of us may have very little extra time in our week for this 'homework'. Some will be able to make more time. As we said in the original course publicity, our hope is that participants will be able to make 20 to 40 minutes per day on average for home practice. It can be hugely worth it to begin to change long term patterns in our lives ... and it is likely at times to be hard work.