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Sit & Meditate with Delany Dean
February 25 @ 10:30 am
An event every week that begins at 10:30am on Sunday, repeating until December 30, 2018
Sit & Meditate with Delany Dean
“Welcome! Mindfulness in Action is the Facebook home page for the Celery City Mindfulness Group, https://www.facebook.com/DelanyDeanPhD/
Our group meets weekly in Sanford, FL to practice meditation, to learn from each other, and to support each other in the cultivation of mindfulness, equanimity, kindness, gratitude, and clarity.
We meet on Sunday mornings, 10:30, at 416 Sanford Avenue, Sanford FL, 32771.
I’m Delany Dean, PhD, the founder of this group. I’m a licensed psychologist and an experienced meditation teacher and practitioner, trained in the Zen and Mindfulness (or secular Vipassana) traditions.
I have developed, implemented, and studied the impact of mindfulness programs in diverse settings including: community mental health facilities, psychological private practice settings, and the university campus.
For those who are new to meditation, here’s a brief introduction:
There are many types or schools of meditation. I teach one particular type of meditation, usually called “mindfulness” or “mindfulness meditation.”
This practice has roots in Buddhist teachings and practices; however, it is not unlike some of the practices found in the contemplative traditions of Christianity and other world religions. Accordingly, it’s important to note that, despite its historical connection with Buddhism, mindfulness meditation is usually taught today as a purely secular activity, pursued not within any particular religious tradition, but for the benefits it can provide in the domains of mental, physical, emotional, and interpersonal functioning.
Today, there is a significant and growing body of scientific research on meditation (especially in the mindfulness tradition) and its impact on practitioners. I am a scientist and committed to following mainstream scientific research, and I confine my teaching to practices for which there is adequate competent evidence of the likelihood of beneficial effects. Mindfulness is really a collection of mental practices and, for several reasons, it’s much more difficult to study than, for example, a program of physical exercise, or a pharmaceutical product; however, it appears that there is good reason to believe that, properly and consistently practiced, mindfulness meditation can have a positive impact on the practitioner in several ways.
One of the mechanisms through which mindfulness creates changes in outlook and emotional states is the deliberate and persistent mental action of switching our thinking patterns away from rumination (i.e., self-centered brooding about the past or the future) and into present-moment awareness, along with the deliberate cultivation of kindness and equanimity. This is similar to the mental activity taught to patients undergoing cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy.
Here’s a link that will take you to an article with a good summary of the findings to date:
And here’s a much more skeptical take (pointing out that there’s much more work to be done):
Scientists are trained to begin the study of a phenomenon by carefully defining it. Here’s one of the best-known definitions of mindfulness practice: “Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience.” (Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn)
Definitions help us to stay on the same page, and they are also important because they influence our expectations. I have found that when people approach the practice of meditation with expectations, understandings, or beliefs (drawn from pop culture) that meditation is primarily a state or a feeling (a “meditative state,” a state of relaxation, a “state of zen,” a feeling of bliss, a feeling of calm or compassion, or a state in which no thoughts or feelings arise), then they become frustrated and disillusioned, because they very seldom experience feelings of great calm, relaxation, or bliss during the practice of meditation.
Sometimes, quite the contrary.
And that’s normal. Meditation is a form of mental (and emotional) exercise.
If, instead of hoping for and seeking instant bliss or an absence of thoughts, we adopt the understanding that meditation is a mental activity that anyone can do, or an exercise or training program that may be helpful in various ways (for improved attentional capacity, or for mood or impulse regulation, or for increased capacity for compassion and equanimity), then we are not so likely to be either surprised or discouraged when we find that meditation might not be an immediately blissful, or even relaxing, experience.
What we are actually doing in mindfulness practice is returning, again and again, from our typical default mode of mindlessness, engaging in mental chatter, rumination, un-awareness, and the semi-trance state that most of us humans spend much of our lives in, to a deliberate process of paying attention to what’s happening right now, and doing so with an attitude of kindness, acceptance, and curiosity.
When we do this, we learn to give up the habit of sleep-walking through life. We awaken to our lives.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Meditation is not ‘relaxation’ spelled differently.”
It’s not about trying to attain a state of bliss. It’s about waking up (enlightenment).
Mindfulness meditation can be “formal practice” (usually sitting meditation) or “informal practice” (mindfulness deliberately practiced in everyday life) but, in each case, the mental activity involved is the act of paying attention; and, at all times, the instruction is to pay attention with an attitude of curiosity and compassion, even when (or, especially when) negative judgments or unpleasant thoughts, feelings, or sensations naturally arise.
Ultimately, our goal is to train the mind and the brain to more easily and more often bring an attitude of “mindfulness,” or compassionate awareness, to all of our lives. Our formal meditation practice is the place within which we repeatedly train our minds to do this; and this formal practice, in turn, enables us to more readily bring mindfulness into our daily lives, and all we encounter.
Please join us for practice together on Sunday mornings, 10:30 am. All are welcome; no charge. Beginners are especially welcome!”
(c) 2017 Delany Dean
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