Session One

House rules

  • Group:

    • Confidentiality: What is inside says inside; creating space of openness, trust, safety.

    • Respect: Being considerate of others; they have their own needs just like you, including silence or solitude; don’t rush with comforting someone (the urge is you own problem, not theirs). Avoid “well-meant advice”. Avoid cross-talk.

    • consensuality: All practices are “invitation”, despite not always designated as such.

  • Self-care:

    • Boundaries: If don’t want to talk about something — I say so and don’t talk about it; a practice is too difficult — consciously adjust the practice or skip doing it altogether;

    • needs: Bathroom, opening windows, sneezing – learning how to identify and care about my own needs is an important part of the course.

  • Organizational:

    • Punctuality: Request to come on time, for practical reasons; if you need to leave earlier, please tell us before the session.

    • Regular attendance: Please inform us about planned absence by e-mail/phone. You will get a summary (such as this one) by e-mail; it is not a 100% replacement of the session, though. In order to officially complete the course, you must not be absent more than twice (the day of mindfulness counts for two sessions).

    • Online etiquette: Keep the camera on, to support attention (we can acommodate if this is not possible, please discuss with us in advance); turn the camera off when off-screen.

    • Support: Facilitator(s) are reachable by e-mail or phone in-between the sessions, should the necessity arise.


MBSR course

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an evidence-based program to reduce stress, developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn and his co-workers. Historical roots of the practices are in the Buddhist tradition (vipassanā, insight meditation), though the program is, by its design, completely secular.

MSBR was extensively studied academically and pioneered scientific research of mindfulness — its fixed structure (8 sessions covering a range of topics) lends itself well to statistical evaluation. The effects of mindfulness on stress of various origins has been evaluated.

  • The pillar is your own practice between the sessions, with recordings; it is a treat, not a home-“work” as punishment. A frequent issue is finding time for regular practice; an invitation is to use mindfulness when looking into that.

  • Weekly group session serve as support for your practice; all experience from the practice is important, not just those which are pleasant.


During the following exercise, be attentive to whatever is happening in senses, feelings, thoughts. The instructions are from Williams, Penman: Mindfulness (Little, Brown, 2011). Do the meditation, then each one raisin “normally”. After that, reflect using the text after the instructions.

The Raisin meditation

Set aside five to ten minutes when you can be alone, in a place, and at a time, when you will not be disturbed by the phone, family or friends. Switch off your mobile phone, so it doesn’t play on your mind. You will need a few raisins (or other dried fruit or small nuts). You’ll also need a piece of paper and a pen to record your reactions afterwards. Your task will be to eat the fruit or nuts in a mindful way […]

Read the instructions below to get an idea of what’s required, and only reread them if you really need to. The spirit in which you do the meditation is more important than covering every instruction in minute detail. You should spend about twenty to thirty seconds on each of the following eight stages:

1. Holding: Take one of the raisins (or your choice of dried fruit or nuts) and hold it in the palm of your hand, or between your fingers and thumb. Focusing on it, approach it as if you have never seen anything like it before. Can you feel the weight of it in your hand? Is it casting a shadow on your palm?

2. Seeing: Take the time really to see the raisin. Imagine you have never seen one before. Look at it with great care and full attention. Let your eyes explore every part of it. Examine the highlights where the light shines; the darker hollows, the folds and ridges.

3. Touching: Turn the raisin over between your fingers, exploring its texture. How does it feel between the forefinger and thumb of the other hand?

4. Smelling: Now, holding it beneath your nose, see what you notice with each in-breath. Does it have a scent? Let it fill your awareness. And if there is no scent, or very little, notice this as well.

5. Placing Slowly take the object to your mouth and notice how your hand and arm know exactly where to put it. And then gently place it in your mouth, noticing what the tongue does to ‘receive’ it. Without chewing, simply explore the sensations of having it on your tongue. Gradually begin to explore the object with your tongue, continuing for thirty seconds or more if you choose.

6. Chewing When you’re ready, consciously take a bite into the raisin and notice the effects on the object, and in your mouth. Notice any tastes that it releases. Feel the texture as your teeth bite into it. Continue slowly chewing it, but do not swallow it just yet. Notice what is happening in the mouth.

7. Swallowing: See if you can detect the first intention to swallow as it arises in your mind, experiencing it with full awareness before you actually swallow. Notice what the tongue does to prepare it for swallowing. See if you can follow the sensations of swallowing the raisin. If you can, consciously sense it as it moves down into your stomach. And if you don’t swallow it all in one go, consciously notice a second or even a third swallow, until it has all gone. Notice what the tongue does after you have swallowed.

8. After-effects Finally, spend a few moments registering the aftermath of this eating. Is there an aftertaste? What does the absence of the raisin feel like? Is there an automatic tendency to look for another?

Now take a moment to write down anything that you noticed when you were doing the practice.

Here’s what some people who’ve attended our courses said:

  • ‘The smell for me was amazing; I’d never noticed that before.’

  • ‘I felt pretty stupid, like I was in art school or something.’

  • ‘I thought how ugly they looked … small and wrinkled, but the taste was very different from what I would normally have thought it tasted like. It was quite nice actually.’

  • ‘I tasted this one raisin more than the twenty or so I usually stuff into my mouth without thinking.’

Small fruit, big message

How many times in the past have you paid so much conscious attention to what you were doing? Did you notice how your experience of eating the raisin was transformed by the simple act of focusing on it? Many people say that they ‘got their money’s worth’ out of eating for the first time in years. What normally happens to all that taste? It just disappears. Unnoticed. Raisins are so insignificant; we tend to eat them by the handful, while doing something ‘more important’. And if it was only the taste we were missing, this might not matter too much. But once you see the difference that paying full attention can make to the small things in life, you start to get an inkling of the cost of inattention. Just think of all the pleasures of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching that are drifting by you unnoticed. You may well be missing vast portions of your daily life. You only ever have a moment to live, this moment, and yet we all tend to live in the past or in the future. We only rarely notice what is arising in the present moment.

The Raisin meditation is the first sample of the central tenet of the mindfulness programme: that is, relearning how to bring awareness to everyday activities so that you can see life as it is, unfolding moment by moment. This sounds simple, but it takes a great deal of practice. After the raisin exercise, participants in our mindfulness classes are asked to choose one activity that they normally do each day without thinking, and to see if they can bring ‘raisin mind’ to it for the next few days. Perhaps you’d like to choose one such activity and join them in this simple but profound journey of awakening to the ordinary moments of living.


Set aside about 30–40 minutes for the bodyscan practice; the audio is on the MBSR guided meditations page.

Všímavost (teorie)

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally. (Jon Kabat-Zinn)


Obvykle se v životě soustředíme na to, co je špatně a co „řešíme“ (režim konání). Protože mysl funguje jako návykový stroj (co opakujeme, začneme dělat posléze automaticky a případně i nevědomě; jako bychom jezdili ve vyježděných kolejích; patrně kumulativně s věkem čím dál více, pokud s tím něco neuděláme), vytváříme tím návyk na zaměřování pozornosti na nepříjemné věci. Zde se budeme učit zaměřovat pozornost bez výběru, bez předchozího zaměření na to či ono, ale zároveň bez vypnutí pozornosti/usnutí/…; ve fenomenologii by se řeklo, že necháme přítomnost se vyjevit (režim bytí).

Návyky nechceme zničit, ale uvědomit si je a tím vytvořit prostor pro svobodné rozhodování, zda ho budu následovat nebo ne. Učit se vnímat přítomný okamžik znamená uvědomovat si, co se v mysli děje a nenásledovat to. Někdy se používá příměr, že všímavost je jako stát na nádraží, vidět spoustu projíždějících vlaků, ale nenaskakovat do nich. Každým vědomým nenaskočením, ke kterému by jinak habituálně došlo, se návyky oslabují.

(Jedním z velmi silných návyků je, že (a) co se nám líbí, chceme, (b) co se nám nelíbí, nechceme, (c) co je pro nás neutrální (ani líbí ani nelíbí), je nezajímavé a zaměříme pozornost na něco „zajímavějšího“ (obvykle negativního, co „řešíme“). Ve cvičení je líbení/nelíbení jen další věc, kterou si uvědomujeme, ale nenásledujeme ji. I proto je daná rutina cvičení (každý den podle nahrávky), kterou následujeme, ať je nám právě příjemná či ne, čímž se právě příjemnost/nepříjemnost mohou stát vědomými.)

Určitým typem chtění, které je, nakolik je nevědomé a následujeme ho, je též očekávání, mj. očekávání nějakého výsledku cvičení. Během kurzu cvičení pouze dělejme a všechny pokusy o hodnocení, analýzu, „jak bych to mohl aplikovat na klienty“ atd. berme jen jako další předměty, které se v mysli objeví, kterých si všimneme, a dál je nenásledujeme.

Attitudes of the mindfulness practice

The following attitudes are cultivated by practicing mindfulness (including on-the-go, informal practices); reminding oneself of them can be supportive for the practice.

  1. Non-judging: cultivating investigation of what is happening, whether it is pleasant or not; liking and disliking are just another phenomena to be mindful of.

  2. Patience: some features of our experience may change slower than we’d like, or not at all; patience is trainable by mindful attention to impatience which can come up rather frequently;

  3. Beginner’s Mind: each experience deserves such attetion as if it were for the first time (this moment is for the first time); whenever the mind slips into a rut (which might be plain switch-off, feeling of routine, analyzing, comparing with other instances of “the same”, …), being mindful of that cultivates our ability to give full attention.

  4. Trust: the mind reacts rather often, especially when an unpleasant experience appears, by thinking that “something is not right”; practice of mindfulness is a support for weakening this reaction (closely related to stress). Whatever is happening now, I can experience it consciously (whether it is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral). Trust is closely related to:

  5. Non-striving: tuning into being mode: observation, being curious and attentive; as opposed to doing mode. Outside of the practice, strive with measure known through clarity and wisdom.

  6. Acceptance: accepting our experience in this moment as it is (even its difficult features).

  7. Letting go: experiences arise and cease; by letting go of the past (even if it was fascinating, interesting, …) makes the mind open for the next moment which is already arising.

  8. (Self)-compassion: sensing our own needs with mindful attention; for instance, distinguishing tiredness and laziness through mindfulness, I am able to respond in more constructive (and less self-destructive) ways.