TMG’s latest 8 week public course came to an end last week and I sent a welcome email to those participants, with a bit of a What's Next theme? And What’s Next is really a key question for all of us, whether you finished your Mindfulness course last week or several years ago. Because Mindfulness is not an end in itself, but more a start. A start of looking more closely, without judgement, at what arises in each moment. But we so easily drift off to thoughts, daydreams and the lure of the Autopilot, that we need to practice that aspect of coming back to the present moment, over and over again. And that coming back can be applied to our practice too—no matter whether you have a strong daily practice, or haven’t practiced for many months, this moment is a new moment where the choice of What Next is up to you. You may wish to pause now (yes NOW…even for just a moment to feel your feet or take a mindful breath….instead of the usual pull we have to get to the end of this email and onto the next thing we have to do!) and think back to when your last course finished (maybe even dig out the card you may have written on ) and your reflections on what was most important in your life that Mindfulness may help with. And all of our experience can only be known and felt and lived in THIS moment. As the quote from the wonderful Kung Fu Panda goes….”Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, but Today is a Gift…which is why it’s called the Present!!” Anyway, I have copied in what I sent our latest TMG members below, which you may wish to read through as you reflect on What’s Next for you?...........
I hope you found the course helpful. However it was for you, you would have been on a journey, and this journey may have been unlike any you have been on before. The gift of Mindfulness is really waking up to the reality of your life and, by becoming more familiar with that direct experience, being able to respond to those experiences in more helpful ways.
Over the last 8 weeks you would have experienced some lovely moments and some not so lovely ones. We never know what life may throw up for us, and much as we would wish to, we can't control what comes our way.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn says (who devised the original 8 week course which the MBCT-L course is based on) " You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf."
That is what you've been learning over the last 8 weeks, but as Sheila may have said in your last session, and quoting Jon Kabat-Zinn again, the real Session 8 is the rest of your life.
Over the last 8 weeks you may have found that cultivating the deliberate attention skills is not always easy to do. It takes a certain intention, a certain perseverance, but above all a certain act of kindness to allow yourself to come back to this moment and in that moment rediscover those important qualities that are nothing new, that have always been within us, but Mindfulness has in some sense unearthed.
This takes practice as these skills are easy to lose. Like any muscle, the muscle of deliberate attention needs exercising. It is so easy for all those automatic habits, those fight or flight reactions to the difficulties we encounter ( which you now may have seen more clearly through your practice ), to take hold again- it's something which evolution has woven so strongly into our DNA.
It can be really helpful, when the course is over, to support your own Mindfulness practice by coming together as a group again to practice. And to support this, TMG runs monthly sitting groups.
Anyone who has done an 8 week course is welcome to attend the sitting groups, details of which can be found on the Diary page of the website HERE.
They have proven so popular we are looking to increase the frequency over coming months. We also often invite different local Mindfulness teachers along who each offer a different perspective which can be really helpful.
The next sitting group is on Thursday 12th July at West View (the venue for your course) from 6:30pm - 8:30pm (with drinks from 6.15pm). No booking needed - just turn up!
This month a very experienced teacher Barbara Hussong will be leading the session, and I am really looking forward to practising with her for the first time. There is a lot of evidence that sustaining this weird thing that we do called Mindfulness meditation, is really helped by connecting with like-minded people and realising that what can seem like a very personal experience is actually something that is all about relationships - how we relate to ourselves and how we relate to those around us.
And it is in cultivating those attentional skills which illuminate those relationships,that the real benefits of Mindfulness really come into being.
Mindfulness is not an end in itself, but just the start of learning how we may better develop those relationships and lead a happier and more contented life. And to really wake up to this one and precious life we have.
I hope some of you may be able to join us on the 12th.
Best Wishes Neil
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down, who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?