Not being taught .b at school?

That’s fine! We hope the animations and practices here will introduce you to mindfulness in a way which is both enjoyable and useful. Just a few things to bear in mind…

The animations and guided practices on this website form part of a 10-week course designed to be taught in schools. We hope the questions below help, but you’ll learn SO much more if you’re taught properly by a trained .b teacher. So if you’d like to get .b into your school, ask your teachers to have a look here for information about how to get .b into your school.

A teacher without formal mindfulness training might be teaching you all sorts of things which aren’t actually mindfulness! Beware ‘McMindfulness’: quick-fix approaches which are not grounded in proper training. How can a teacher respond to your questions about mindfulness if they don’t know what it is themselves? How can they inspire you if they haven’t experienced the benefits? Do you want to be taught to swim by somebody who’s not spent time in the pool?

There are lots of reasons. Some people enjoy the space mindfulness gives them in the middle of a frantic day – a chance to just stop, breathe and ‘be’ for a bit. But there is also good evidence that a proper mindfulness course can help with issues like anxiety, stress and depression, as well as helping people cope with illness and pain. Some studies show that practising mindfulness can help people feel not only more positive, but kinder towards themselves and others. Some find it helps with concentration and memory, others with performance in music, drama and sport.

It depends. It only takes a few seconds to notice your feet on the floor and tune into your breathing. You might count how many breaths you do in a minute. You can try one of the practices on dotbe.org in less than 10 minutes. On the other hand, like anything, the more you practise, the more you’ll feel the benefits. If you find an app, a book or a teacher promising life-changing results immediately and with no effort then be suspicious…!

We recommend that you begin with Playing Attention (Lesson One) and try this for a few days before moving on to FOFBOC (Lesson Two) the following week (and so on). Try combining the animation and/or the sound file with some silent practice. For example:

Day 1: Watch and ‘do’ the whole of the animation

Day 2: Just do the sound file of the practice (below the YouTube window)

Day 3: Set a timer for between 5 and 10 minutes and try the practice without any guidance

Day 4: Repeat whichever of the above you prefer

We recommend that you don’t jump ahead, as the sequence of practices is carefully thought out; each week builds on the skills and understanding you developed in the previous week’s practice.

Mindfulness is like physical exercise: most of the time, when approached sensibly, it is a great way of staying mentally ‘fit’. But just as you wouldn’t run a marathon if you’ve only ever been for a jog or you have a heart condition, we wouldn’t recommend intensive mindfulness practice if you’ve only done a few short practices or you are feeling particularly vulnerable. These animations are a safe way to explore the basics of mindfulness, but if for any reason you feel uncomfortable when doing a practice then simply don’t carry on.

If you fall asleep when practising one of these animations, it probably means you’re very tired! Don’t worry. Enjoy the snooze. Having said that, you won’t learn much if you always sleep through the instructions. Try practising first thing in the morning once you’re out of bed, or before a meal rather than after one.

If you get bored during the practice, notice what it feels like to get bored. Notice the impulse to switch off the animation and do something else. Notice what it’s like to get fidgety. Notice what being restless actually feels like. And see if you can ride that wave of restlessness, allowing it to be there whilst giving it some space and breathing with it. This is a great opportunity to experiment with not being a puppet on the strings of your impulses. Bring your attention back to the next instruction. Start again.

“I can’t do it” is what people often think if they don’t immediately feel calm. They notice their mind wandering a lot and so think they must be doing it wrong, or be no good at it. In fact, this probably means you ARE being mindful – you are just noticing for the first time what a crazy, restless and random thing the human mind is. Allowing the mind to be like this rather than constantly trying to ‘fix’ it is one of the things which helps the mind to settle.

Sometimes it helps you relax, but it is SO much more than this too. As we say in the Mindful Mouthful animation: “Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn once said ‘Mindfulness is being alive, and knowing it’. It’s about noticing the small details of our experience, things we would normally rush past, connecting us with the raw experience of each moment as it happens. Life feels brighter and fresher when we do this”.

There is no ‘best’ posture. Do what feels right and what ‘works’ for you. Some prefer to sit in a chair, others prefer lying on the floor. Some love to sit cross-legged and others to stand up. In Moving Mindfully you’ll practice mindfulness whilst walking. At the start of each practice we suggest a posture, but if you prefer your own way then that is fine.

Mindfulness can help with appreciating what’s going well for you and dealing skilfully with what’s not; it’s about savouring the juice of life and dealing intelligently with the pips. But it is not an endurance activity. If these practices aren’t helping then just stop doing them. More importantly, if things are really worrying you then find someone to talk to – a friend, a parent, a teacher or some other person you feel able to share your concerns with. You can’t beat face-to-face support!

Firstly, ask your teacher to find out how to get .b into your school. In the meantime, set aside 5 or 10 minutes every day just to sit quietly. Silence is free. There are quite a few mindfulness apps which offer basic practices for free too. The most popular ones are generally pretty good, as are the best-selling books.