Mindfulness is not an end point in itself. It is simply the gateway to a more honest, engaged courageous and friendly relationship with yourself and those around you.
Out of this enhanced relationship then comes learning about how you may engage with the world in a way that is more in keeping with how you truly wish to live your life, rather than just a way that is based on the habits you may have built up around you over the many years when you may not have been so aware!
You may have noticed that the steadying of attention, which facilitates this learning, takes time.
The real session 8 of the 8 week course is often termed the "rest of your life" and having been through the course you may get a sense of how through Mindfulness we continue to gain some understanding about our lives that really does extend way beyond those 8 weeks.
The fact that you are still reading this suggests you still have that curiosity to want to learn something new which may be of help to you.
My experience, during the last 5 years in which I have been fortunate enough to have stumbled across Mindfulness, is that that learning does not ever end. You never reach the end of the road when everything falls into place and you can sit back and put your feet up with a cigar and a glass of whisky. It takes ongoing practice, but the fruits of that practice can be truly life enhancing.
As quickly as we learn something new, however, we seem to forget it amidst the busyness of our lives. It is therefore very helpful to remind ourselves and relearn old lessons as well as new ones.
I will let you into a little secret about why I continue to teach Mindfulness classes despite a pretty full home, family and working life. Each course I teach, every lesson I spend with the group, I am reminded of some important aspect of Mindfulness, and the learning that arises from that, which I may well have forgotten.
I find the ability to drop into the present moment and to learn and relearn those lessons, so important and helpful to me in relating to and living my very full life.
One of the biggest lessons I have learnt over these short years is how the challenges we can all face in our lives from time to time, are rarely resolved by working ever harder on them or beating ourselves up one more time, but rather are more effectively dealt with by showing ourselves and others a little more kindness, appreciation and compassion.
Just like the attention skills we exercised in the 8 week course, these behavioural intentions towards kindness, compassion and appreciation can equally be nurtured and developed.
Mindfulness Based Compassionate Living Course
Tenterden Mindfulness Group are very fortunate to have forged relationships with a number of wonderful local Mindfulness teachers in Kent, and in March this year Barbara Hussong, a highly experienced and respected Mindfulness teacher, will be teaching a Mindfulness Based Compassionate Living (MBCL) course for us, which will explore these very issues of showing ourselves and others a little more kindness, appreciation and compassion.
The 8 week course will take place on Thursday evenings with the first session scheduled for the 21st March. It is aimed at people, like as you, who have completed an initial 8 week Mindfulness course and would now like to deepen their learning and explore how this translates into living our lives in such a way as to bring us more peace, contentment or happiness - feel free to choose whichever word fits best for you!
The course is limited to 12 places, and is already half full. Full details and an application form can be found on our website HERE. Barbara has also written a piece about the MBCL course which you may find helpful - read it HERE.
I personally can think of no better way of supporting your on-going Mindfulness journey.
In ending this message I would like to show some appreciation to the wonderful poet Mary Oliver, who passed away last month, and whose poems form an integral part of Mindfulness courses around the world.
Her poems speak to those sentiments that Mindfulness can help us to discover, and help us notice that we are not learning anything new, rather revealing again the potential within all of us which may lay buried until we find the courage to investigate with curiosity and friendliness what is already here in this moment.
I'll end with the poem that often ends Session 1 of the 8 week course.
The Journey by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – – determined to save
the only life you could save.