Mindfulness Master Class:

Getting Started

Before You Begin…

It’s important to consider what it is that you hope will happen as a result of doing this program. For example, you may hope for some effective ways of dealing with stress or worry, ways to cope with illness or difficult life situations, better concentration, an increase in the ability to be present and fully engaged in life, or to accept yourself more fully and others just as they are.

What is it that you hope will happen as a result of following this program?

The Getting Started Activity in Quenza will help you answer this question and will create the foundation for your practice on this journey. Please complete the Quenza activity now. If you will be completing this by hand, print the PDF version of the Worksheet, complete it and save it.

Take your time in doing this. This is especially important because it is difficult to begin a meditation practice on your own and you will greatly increase your odds of staying with this if you are clear about your goals and when and where you will do the practices.

If you’d like some company on this journey

Although this is a self-paced course, you don’t have to do it alone. As you go through the course, there are a number of ways you can interact with me.

One option is to participate in one to one or group Zoom Meditation & Discussion Meetings. After a short introduction, there is a live group meditation, followed by an opportunity to share real-time with other Strengthening Your Conscious Self clients. One of the several formal practices for a given module can be one of these live group meditations, providing a way for you to have a regular weekly group to meet with while you take the course. Attending a regular live meeting is a great way to reinforce your progress through the course and to be part of a vibrant and active community of fellow students and graduates.

Another option is the Strengthening Your Conscious Self Facebook page, an online tool in which you will be able to interact with me and follow my daily posts. Most questions get answered within an hour or two. Liking the page is optional, with no requirement that you follow the page – you could just stay on the sidelines and see what kinds of content is being shared.

Frequently Asked Questions

Whether or not you choose to engage in any of the groups or meetings, be sure to look at the FAQ page, where the most common questions and concerns about the course and the practices are addressed. One of the most common questions is: “How long should it take to complete the entire course?”. The short answer is an unequivocal “Yes”. You can consider yourself ready to go to the next “module” after you have done the daily practices and recorded your progress consistently (and the videos, lessons, and reading), and it’s fine to stay for longer.

Tracking Your Progress

If you don’t feel comfortable tracking progress in Quenza, it helps if you create a manual. I suggest you keep a binder with materials from the course for reference and review. By the time the course is over, if you print the instructions for each module as well each of the documents listed under “Articles” and “Course Lessons” for that week, you will have created your own mindfulness course manual. If this is something you’d like to do, see Mindfulness Masterclass Manual for suggestions about content and organization, as well as documents for the binder cover and table of contents.

Videos and Reading

For each week of the course, under Videos, are a set of presentations related to that week’s material by master teachers of mindfulness. Under Reading are articles, formatted for easy reading and ready to be printed for your manual. If you are so inclined, you may also want to keep a “Mindfulness Journal” to write your impressions in a more free-form manner than just the worksheets and practice sheets allow.

Plan to spend about 2 to 3 hours per week for the videos, lessons, and readings. The modules may take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. Many people choose a specific day of the week and specific time to watch the videos in one sitting, then do the lessons and readings at another sitting. You can, of course, spread the readings and videos out during the week.

Daily Maintenance

Your Formal Practice should take about 30-35 minutes each day. Each module introduces new practices for which you can find through the menu just to the left of this text under [Practices]. Each week, you have the option of recording your progress in Quenza, or you can print or download a Formal Practice sheet which you will use to log at least six formal practices before going on to the next week. For one of your six practices, you may substitute the meditation that is part of the Zoom Meditation & Discussion Meetings.

In addition, there is Informal Practice each day, which will help you integrate the learnings and practices into your daily life. Unlike the formal practice, you don’t have to schedule the Informal Practice; it’s simply having an intention to bring a special awareness into some of the activities that you already do on a daily basis. At the end of each day, you can either record the practice in Quenza, or log your informal practice using that week’s Informal Practice sheet as a guide. Although the Informal Practice may look less important than the formal practice, it is through the Informal Practice that you will see and realize the concrete and natural benefits of Mindfulness practices.

The One-day Retreat

In a live MBSR course, the one-day retreat is held between weeks 6 and 7, but in the Strengthening Your Conscious Self program Mindfulness course, you should attend a retreat every 3 to 6 months on a consistent regular basis. For ideas on retreats, see the page [Retreats] listed in the menu on the left. Students who have successfully completed all of the course (see Requesting a Certificate) will receive a certificate of completion with a “Master of Mindfulness and Meditation” title.

Time Commitment

The daily practices, videos, meditations, lessons, and readings average about 2 hours per day. The videos and readings can be done all at once at the beginning of the module, or you can spread them out through the week. The total time to complete the course is around a period of not less than two years. (see Calculation of course hours). As mentioned above, feel free to take more than a week for any given module.

Take whatever time you need for any of the modules…

To be consistent with a traditional live MBSR course, the segments of the course are called “Weeks”, but a key advantage of taking this self-paced version is that you can take as long as you want or need for for any given module (“Week”). If there are interruptions to your progress through the course and you miss a few days, you can safely continue from where you left off (or a little before if it was a long interruption). Once you have done at least six days of practice (not necessarily in a row) and feel that you’ve gotten the essence of that module, you may continue to the next module. The only suggestion we make time-wise is – try not to do any module in less than seven days.

Health Considerations

Many people come to the course with chronic pain, intellectual and cognitive deficits, attention and focus executive dysfunction, physical limitations, and mental health challenges; it’s important that you know that you are free to modify any of the practices, especially the yoga sequences, to make them best work for you. Being aware of your own limits, and modifying the practices when necessary is, in itself, mindfulness in action.

Also, during the course of this program, whether you have barriers and limitations or not, it is possible, even likely, that difficult feelings or unpleasant memories may arise. Since this program is normally done without interaction with an instructor, it is important that you take care of your own emotional and mental health. If you are under a counselor or doctor’s care already, please let them know of your plan to go through this program, and keep them informed of your experience as you go along, so that they may monitor any unexpected reactions to the course or practices.

If things come up which are too difficult to handle, you should take a break from the course and seek the help of a good counselor or therapist (see If You React Strongly for guidance about whether to take a break or not). If you should need immediate help, dial 911 or 988 (see Crisis Hotlines).

Ready to start?

Once you’ve completed the Getting Started Quenza activity or worksheet you’re ready to go!

Click to begin your journey!