Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation

Watch Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation

  • 2011
  • 1 Season

Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation is a comprehensive, 24-episode course from The Great Courses that provides an in-depth exploration of the principles and techniques of mindfulness meditation. The course is designed to be accessible to beginners and experienced meditators alike, and is taught by Dr. Mark Muesse, professor of religious studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

Dr. Muesse begins by laying a foundation for the practice of mindfulness, emphasizing the importance of developing a non-judgmental awareness of one's thoughts, feelings, and sensory experiences. He stresses the significance of cultivating a sense of presence and attentiveness in the present moment, both in meditation and in one's everyday life.

Throughout the course, Dr. Muesse introduces a variety of meditation exercises and techniques, ranging from breathing and body-awareness practices to visualization and lovingkindness meditation. He also explores the benefits of mindfulness meditation for health and well-being, including reducing stress and anxiety, enhancing cognitive functioning, and promoting empathy and compassion.

Through the course, Dr. Muesse draws on insights from both Eastern and Western traditions of contemplative practice, emphasizing both the scientific and spiritual dimensions of mindfulness meditation. He also explores the ways in which mindfulness intersects with other fields, such as neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy.

One of the strengths of Practicing Mindfulness is Dr. Muesse's skillful and compassionate teaching style. He is engaging and approachable, and his clear and thoughtful explanation of the principles and practices of mindfulness meditation make the course highly accessible to beginners.

The course is presented in a series of lectures, each of which is roughly half an hour long. The production values are high, with multiple camera angles, clear audio, and useful visuals and graphics. Particular exercises are accompanied by helpful visuals and animations to guide the viewer through the practice.

One notable feature of Practicing Mindfulness is that Dr. Muesse includes a number of "chapter summaries" throughout the course, which provide helpful recaps of key concepts and practices covered in earlier lectures.

Overall, Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation is an excellent resource for anyone interested in exploring the practices and benefits of mindfulness meditation. Dr. Muesse is a skilled and compassionate teacher, and his course is highly engaging and informative. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced meditator, this course is well worth checking out.

Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (24 episodes). The series first aired on November 18, 2011.

Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation
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Life: Putting It All in Perspective
24. Life: Putting It All in Perspective
November 18, 2011
Finally, consider various possibilities for continuing your practice through the methods you've learned, further study, and retreats. Professor Muesse concludes with reflections on his own path and on the very real capacity of mindfulness practice to profoundly alter our perceptions of self, the world, and our place in it.
Finitude: Living in the Face of Death
23. Finitude: Living in the Face of Death
November 18, 2011
The mindfulness tradition considers reflecting on death to be both liberating and essential to living a full and satisfying life. Contemplate the ways in which our culture conditions us to avoid and deny death, and learn four meditations that deepen both the awareness of life's transience and our ability to live freely.
Grief: Learning to Accept Loss
22. Grief: Learning to Accept Loss
November 18, 2011
In reflecting on the universality of loss, take a deeper look at the notion of impermanence and how refusal to embrace life's transience affects our experience of living. Learn how mindfulness approaches grief through centering focus in the present moment and fully experiencing what grief brings to us without fear or aversion.
Pain: Embracing Physical Discomfort
21. Pain: Embracing Physical Discomfort
November 18, 2011
The skills of mindfulness offer powerful means to work with physical discomfort of all kinds. Consider the crucial distinction between pain and suffering as it directly affects our perceptions. Then experience two meditations for alleviating physical suffering: first, focusing on observing the exact sensation itself, then, on your response to the sensation.
Anger: Cooling the Fires of Irritation
20. Anger: Cooling the Fires of Irritation
November 18, 2011
This lecture discusses the challenges of dealing with anger and ways to disarm it using the skills you've studied. Reflect on our cultural predisposition to either suppress anger or to express it thoughtlessly, and a third way offered by mindfulness, of nonjudgmental observation, acceptance, and the mental spaciousness to choose your response.
Speech: Training the Tongue
19. Speech: Training the Tongue
November 18, 2011
Mindfulness practice brings focus to the critical link between speech and behavior. Consider the ways in which both inner experience and outward action are influenced by our use of language. Reflecting on four Buddhist principles of skillful communication, explore mindful attention to speaking and the use of language in genuinely beneficial ways.
Generosity: The Joy of Giving
18. Generosity: The Joy of Giving
November 18, 2011
Here, study the mindfulness tradition's insights concerning attachment to things, our culture's dominant emphasis on possessions, and the psychological roots of greed. Learn about the Buddhist tradition of dana (sharing with others) and specific practices that reveal the life-giving effects of generosity on the giver and receiver.
Wishing: May All Beings Be Well and Happy
17. Wishing: May All Beings Be Well and Happy
November 18, 2011
The mindfulness tradition offers an additional practice that is highly effective in revealing and cultivating compassion. With Professor Muesse's guidance, experience metta meditation, a focused contemplation wishing well-being and peace for others. See how this practice works to relinquish alienation and hostility and to deepen solidarity with all humanity.
Imperfection: Embracing Our Flaws
16. Imperfection: Embracing Our Flaws
November 18, 2011
Finding compassion for ourselves is greatly challenging for many of us. Consider the complex of beliefs, attitudes, and conditioning that underlie this; in particular, the thorny phenomenon of perfectionism. Learn how to embrace and accept both imperfection and perfectionism itself as an opening to freedom and deeper humanity.
Compassion: Expressing Fundamental Kindness
15. Compassion: Expressing Fundamental Kindness
November 18, 2011
With relation to mindfulness practice, explore compassion: the desire to alleviate suffering: as an essential component of our nature as human beings. See how compassion allows us to look at suffering without aversion or attachment, and learn specific practices for developing empathy and deeply recognizing the inner experience of others.
Wisdom: Seeing the World as It Is
14. Wisdom: Seeing the World as It Is
November 18, 2011
Now investigate dukkha, the insatiable quality of human experience: seen in our endless pursuit of the symbols of well-being and achievement and avoidance of unwanted experience. Finally, contemplate not-self: penetrating the illusion of the I as an entity separate from the rest of reality, which must be bolstered, protected, and satisfied.
Insight: Clearing the Mind
13. Insight: Clearing the Mind
November 18, 2011
Practicing mindfulness over time prepares the mind for insight, which in this tradition means seeing clearly into the fundamental nature of reality. Begin an inquiry into what Buddhism calls the three marks of existence with the notion of impermanence: the eternal arising and passing away of all phenomena.
Driving: Staying Awake at the Wheel
12. Driving: Staying Awake at the Wheel
November 18, 2011
As a familiar and potentially hazardous activity, driving provides a perfect laboratory for practicing mindfulness. Assess your own approach to driving and bring the principles of meditation to bear on the road; in particular, giving focused attention to the present moment, to your sensory experience and emotions.
Consuming: Watching What You Eat
11. Consuming: Watching What You Eat
November 18, 2011
When approached with mindfulness, eating offers heightened awareness and undiscovered depth of experience. This lecture takes you on a rich exploration of mindful eating, beginning with an eating meditation, using all five senses. Then contemplate mindful eating in daily life and detailed suggestions for sharing a fully mindful meal with others.
Walking: Mindfulness While Moving
10. Walking: Mindfulness While Moving
November 18, 2011
Walking meditation, another core element of the mindfulness tradition, allows you to practice mindfulness wherever and whenever you go. Learn walking meditation in detail, including beneficial conditions for practice, the method of mindful walking, where to focus your attention, and advanced variations on the practice.
Mind: Working with Thoughts
9. Mind: Working with Thoughts
November 18, 2011
The mindfulness tradition has much to say on the nature of thoughts and their power to shape personality and character. Here, learn specific ways to identify detrimental thoughts and a variety of methods to work with them, demonstrating that you can influence the conditioned mind through conscious and deliberate response to your own thoughts.
Body: Attending to Our Physical Natures
8. Body: Attending to Our Physical Natures
November 18, 2011
Building on your work with mindfulness practice, learn another technique that augments and supports meditation. The body scan directs focused attention to different areas of the body, promoting deeper sensory awareness, relaxation, and concentration. With Professor Muesse's guidance, experience a 20-minute body scan meditation, a fundamental practice of self-compassion.
Problems: Stepping-Stones to Mindfulness
7. Problems: Stepping-Stones to Mindfulness
November 18, 2011
Here, explore difficulties often encountered in meditation and ways of working with them that are also useful in the larger context of living. Consider physical discomfort and the specific use of mindfulness itself in working through it. Look also at ways to strengthen concentration and to counter frustration and discouragement.
Breathing: Finding a Focus for Attention
6. Breathing: Finding a Focus for Attention
November 18, 2011
Mindfulness meditation is based in the use of an anchor or focus of attention, allowing the mind to calm itself. Using your breathing as the focus, learn in detail about the fundamental elements of sitting meditation, focusing attention on the breath and returning to it when the mind strays, without judgment.
Position: Where to Be for Meditation
5. Position: Where to Be for Meditation
November 18, 2011
Now learn about the most beneficial physical conditions for your meditation. First, consider the time of day and the physical setting that will best serve your practice. Then, study the most effective sitting postures on the floor, cushions, or chair and the optimum alignment of the body for mindfulness meditation.
Preparation: Taking Moral Inventory
4. Preparation: Taking Moral Inventory
November 18, 2011
In approaching meditation, consider the interconnections of ethical behavior with the development of mindfulness and the shaping of personal character. Drawing from the Buddha's teachings, explore five precepts of behavior that are conducive to the greatest benefits of meditation practice, based in the fundamental principle of not harming others or yourself.
Expectations: Relinquishing Preconceptions
3. Expectations: Relinquishing Preconceptions
November 18, 2011
This lecture introduces the practice of meditation as a tool for developing mindfulness. Here, distinguish the true nature of mindfulness meditation from common preconceptions about it, revealing its capacity to instill a deeper connection to reality, as well as cultivating a wisdom based in empathy and compassion.
Mindfulness: The Power of Awareness
2. Mindfulness: The Power of Awareness
November 18, 2011
Explore the notion of mindfulness: nonjudgmental attention to experience: as it occurs in everyday life and as a deliberate practice. Note the many benefits of mindfulness practice, from the freedom to choose how you respond to life, to releasing detrimental emotions and patterns of thinking, to its effects on your physical health.
Mindlessness: The Default Setting
1. Mindlessness: The Default Setting
November 18, 2011
Do you control your mind, or does your mind control you? Investigate how the mind operates and the condition of mindlessness: the pervasive swirl of thoughts and judgments that separate you from the world around you. Consider the possibility of cultivating the mind in ways conducive to deep well-being for yourself and others.
Where to Watch Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation
Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation is available for streaming on the The Great Courses website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation on demand at Apple TV Channels and Amazon Prime and Amazon.
  • Premiere Date
    November 18, 2011