Last month we were fortunate to have Barbara Hussong lead our monthly sitting group. She guided us in several practices including a movement practice which led on to a sitting practice.
Each time we practice is an opportunity to bring that “beginner’s mind” to our experience, which children find so easy, instead of making that assumption that we know what’s coming next.
We do that so often in our lives, and in the session Barbara instructed to allow ourselves to be surprised by whatever came up.
And for me, and those in the group, surprise surprise ....when we allowed ourselves the time to pay attention, a lot did come up. I thought I would share some of those experiences as the learning from the group can be so helpful to all of us, as you may remember from your own course.
It was mentioned that by making that intention to come along to the session, in a group it is somehow easier to allow yourself to slow down and practice for that longer period of time, without the sense at home that there is always something more important to be doing. And when we sit, or move, and pay deliberate attention for a longer period of time, we are strengthening that aspect of Mindfulness that develops that ability to have some choice over where we place our attention, instead of being pushed and pulled by whatever calls loudest for our attention…often our own thoughts, fears or emails!
Several people expressed how movement was helpful in calming the mind. By bringing our attention into the direct experience of sensations in the body, which can be easier in movement, we take our attention away from the busy mind and the cycle of repetitive thoughts which are so easy for us to get lost in.
I was reminded myself that movement can be a really helpful way of energising the body. We often don’t notice when the body is weary, or the mind is tired, as it is difficult to be mindful when we are sleepy. When we woke up the body, in one case by shaking out one side of the body whilst balancing on the other, I noticed very much the changes with tenseness on one side and the lightness of the other side. Bringing attention to the body through movement was also mentioned in the group as being a calming factor which supported the sitting practice that followed. Why not try some movement for a few minutes before your own practice and see how that affects things?
Barbara next led a Kindness practice, which is something which doesn’t always feel comfortable, and I share that sense. Why should that be?
Kindness really sits at the heart of Mindfulness, in fact what we are practising may actually be better termed Heartfulness. Yet the word itself is seen as a bit soft and fluffy, and bringing Kindness to ourselves isn’t easy and can be felt as somewhat self-indulgent. And yet it really is a crucial piece in allowing us to flourish in our lives. But as with any habit, it simply takes practice to cultivate.
If that is something you are interested in exploring further, we are delighted that Barbara will be leading an 8 week Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living course in early 2019 for TMG. It is intended as a follow on course for people who have already done an 8 week MBCT course and I am sure would be an excellent opportunity to deepen your practice under her expert guidance. Details will follow shortly.
We ended with a 10 finger Gratitude practice. And it really is so important to spend some time paying attention to what is good in our lives, however big or small that is. You may recollect the Pleasant experiences calendar you did early on in your course. We have evolved to pay attention to the potential threats and problems in our lives…it’s how we survived and it happens automatically. We therefore have to make some intentional effort to pay attention to those other aspects in our lives which we are appreciative of.
And spending time and attention with what is good in our lives is so important in resourcing ourselves. Another act of kindness to ourselves which ultimately helps all of those around us.
I look forward to seeing some of you when we next meet on Wednesday 8th August.
Self-Observation Without Judgment
Release the harsh and pointed inner voice, it's just a throwback to the past, and holds no truth about this moment.
Let go of self-judgment, the old, learned ways of beating yourself up for each imagined inadequacy.
Allow the dialogue within the mind to grow friendlier, and quiet.
Shift out of inner criticism and life suddenly looks very different.
i can say this only because I make the choice a hundred times a day to release the voice that refuses to acknowledge the real me.
What's needed here isn't more prodding toward perfection, but intimacy - seeing clearly, and embracing what I see.
Love, not judgment, sows the seeds of tranquility and change.