Free Deeper Mindfulness Meditations
‘This book walks you gently through the beautiful, messy process of being human, and teaches you how and why all can be well’ Sir Kenneth Branagh.
All of the meditations on this page are taken from our latest book Deeper Mindfulness:The New Way to Rediscover Calm in a Chaotic World. The book contains the complete eight week mindfulness course developed at Oxford University and taught at universities and mindfulness centres around the world. The new book is a companion to our original, two million selling, Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World. The practices we revealed in that book, and similar skills taught on courses such as Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), are only the first steps on a longer and more fruitful road. Although they form the foundations for a happier and more fulfilling life, and have proven transformative for many, a lot of people asked us whether there is anything more they could do to enhance their practice and resolve their remaining issues.
The answer is yes. There is a way of taking mindfulness to the next level, of going deeper and unleashing more of your potential, by exploring another frontier of mindfulness known as vedana or feeling tone. And, importantly, you don’t need to have extensive meditation experience to benefit from these practices. Research is showing that novice meditators can gain just as much from them as those who have practised for many years.
The first step to regaining control over your life is learning to notice when your mind has begun to subvert itself and slip into unconsciousness. This is done by first training it to focus on one single thing at a time and then gradually learning how to move this ‘spotlight of attention’ around as you wish. If you have practised mindfulness in the past, particularly if you have read our previous book, Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World, or taken a course based on it, you will have learnt to do this with a simple breathing meditation. The following meditation may therefore seem familiar but there are many subtle but crucial differences. These will deepen your experience and understanding. This is the kernel of what we want to share with you through our new book Deeper Mindfulness: it has, for us, become a treasure trove of new insights from the most ancient of Eastern traditions, as well as modern psychology and neuroscience. They have transformed our understanding of meditation and we hope that they will do the same for you, too.
Stream or download the 10-Minute Finding your Ground Meditation HERE. The sound files can take 10-20 seconds before they begin to play.
Waking up from sleep can be a vulnerable moment for many people. There is a post- sleep torpor that can last a few seconds, or a few minutes, and because these sensations can imitate the feelings of sluggishness that come with being depressed, it can reactivate old and very unpleasant thoughts and emotions. Simply being aware that this is a vulnerable time can help you to see what is happening in your body and mind and how it can be a trigger for distress. Becoming aware of it lessens its impact. If you need extra help to discover this for yourself, we have provided this short track for you.
This practice invites you to bring your attention to how your body feels in the moments before you get out of bed. Notice any sensations, whatever they may be: feelings of heaviness, discomfort or fatigue; or lightness and energy. Notice how they change and flux in their own time. Pay attention to how you react to them: do you find yourself judging how you slept? Or wondering how the day will go? There is no need to get rid of thoughts or feelings. Simply notice them – and your reactions to them – tenderly and with compassion. Complete this short period of practice by bringing awareness to your breath, for a few mindful breaths.
Download or stream the Finding Your Ground When You First Wake Up practice from HERE. The sound files can take 10-20 seconds before they begin to play.
A typical feeling tone (or vedana) meditation consists of stilling the mind with a simple breath or body meditation and then paying attention to your experiences in a manner that is subtly different to what other meditations request. It asks you to focus in a very specific way on the feelings and sensations that arise in the moment when the unconscious mind crystallises into the conscious one. Such moments, though fleeting, are often the most important ones in your life. This is because vedana is the balance point in your mind that sets the tone for the sequence of thoughts, feelings and emotions that follow. It is often subtle, but if you pay attention to it, you can feel it in your mind, body and spirit – right through to your bones. The feeling tone is of profound importance because it guides the trajectory of your subsequent thoughts, feelings and emotions. If it is ‘pleasant’, you will tend to feel positive, dynamic and in control of your life (at least for a while). If it is ‘unpleasant’, you will likely feel slightly gloomy, deflated and powerless. Feeling-tone meditations teach you to see, or more precisely, to feel the way that your life is pushed and pulled around by forces you are barely conscious of. Sometimes these forces act in your best interests, sometimes not – but the important thing is that they are not under your immediate control. Under their influence, your life is not your own.
Download or stream the Ten Minute Feeling Tone Meditation from HERE. The sound file can take 10-20 seconds before it begins to play.
From the publisher
There are moments in life that decide your fate. They ripple into the future and dictate how you experience the world in the moments that follow; either positive and uplifting, dark and chaotic, or flat and dull.
What if you could recognise these moments before they seized control of your life? What if you could use them to set sail for a better future? What if all moments, big and small, could be harnessed this way?
In Deeper Mindfulness, Oxford Professor Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman reunite to present a new eight-week guided meditation programme that takes mindfulness to the next level. Deeper Mindfulness reveals how the latest advances in neuroscience, combined with millennia old wisdom, can be used to transform your life. These discoveries open the doors to a deeper layer of mindfulness known as the ‘feeling tone’. This sets the ‘background colour’ that tinges your entire experience of life. It is also the tipping point from which you can reclaim your life in an increasingly stressful and chaotic world.
Proven effective at treating anxiety, stress and depression, the practices in Deeper Mindfulness offer a new and more fruitful direction for both novice and experienced meditators. It also allows the rest of us to approach life with renewed strength, vigour and equanimity.
‘They’ve done it again! Read this book as if your life depended on it’ Ruby Wax.
“This brilliant, powerful, and important book offers a resilient inner peace for troubled times. Each moment is a tipping point toward happiness or suffering. The key is to experience life’s pleasures and pains without getting hijacked by them – and the authors show us how. Their evidence-based approach is both simple and profound, structured and spacious, and practical and heartfelt. You feel their friendly calm guidance in every page, with gentle humour, many examples, guided experiential practices, and numerous effective suggestions. They take mindfulness to a whole new level, and bring you with them each wonderful step of the way.” Rick Hanson, author of BUDDHA’S BRAIN: THE PRACTICAL NEUROSCIENCE OF HAPPINESS, LOVE, AND WISDOM