Tenterden Mindfulness is Back!
TMG is back!! Well we've never really been away but as we all need to do from time to time, we have had a break, have resourced ourselves and so planning to come back stronger and better positioned to help you improve your wellbeing and live your life to the fullest...with the help of this thing we call Mindfulness.
Our new weekly programme of Practise Sessions will hopefully do just that!
But I suspect many of you reading this...and I'm glad you have got this far....may be a bit down on your own Mindfulness practise and how "good" you are at it. Reflecting on your own 8 week course whenever that was you may be pretty sure that Peter was much better at the practises, David's mind wandered far less than mine and Sheila's comments were much more intelligent than mine. Your inability to carry on a daily 40 minute practise, or even a 5 minute one, will confirm to you that you just haven't got what it takes to be in the mindful gang! Absolute rubbish....but completely natural, understandable and common thoughts that highlight the Negativity Bias that most of us recognise.
But maybe you did learn more than you think?
The thing is that we tend to look in the wrong places to decide whether or not Mindfulness is "working" and so can quickly get disillusioned. That negativity bias is waiting in the wings to tell us "See I told you you were no good at Mindfulness!"
When we practise anything the expectation is that we want to get good at whatever it is, or at least a bit better at it. If we take up playing a new instrument, say the guitar, we know it may be a bit difficult, we know we have to learn a new musical language but after paying our hard earned money for a series of lessons, putting in hours of home practise, maybe attending an intensive all day guitar retreat (if there is such a thing!) it is a reasonable expectation that we will become a bit better at playing the guitar.
And we know this by maybe at the start of the process just learning to tune the guitar ourselves, maybe getting a couple of nice notes, later maybe a scale and at some stage we may progress to playing Twinkle Twinkle little star! And that progress keeps us going. If it's all an ear-piercing mess of out of tune notes....week after week....well maybe we may decide it's not worth it. I gave it a shot but guitar playing is just not for me. All that practise just didn't pay off. And worse than that, I may feel a bit of a failure for putting all that effort in and not making any progress.
Well Mindfulness practise is very different. We are NOT practising with the aim of getting good at Mindfulness. The measure of whether Mindfulness practise is working or not does not show up in the practise itself, it shows up in our LIVES.
If you look to whether Mindfulness is helping by whether or not your mind wanders in your practise, or whether your mind empties when you practise, or whether you feel calm and relaxed at the end of a practise.....although an understandable benchmark to check whether you are making progress, you are actually looking in the wrong place. In fact, because Mindfulness is developing that skill of noticing what's going on, you may notice a whole load of that stuff that you don't like as you practise, which confirms even more to yourself that it ain't helping. And so we give up.
I would urge you to look elsewhere.
The place to see maybe just the faintest signs of progress, of whether the effort you put in by attending your 8 week course and the home practises you do is helping, is not in the practise itself, but in your EVERYDAY LIFE.
This is where the fruits of all that labour ... and it does take some effort ... will show up. And can there be anything more important than this one wild and precious life?
Maybe you have noticed that there are a few more moments where you allow yourself to slow down and appreciate the stillness of the raindrops on the window, as I am doing this Sunday morning.
Maybe you are able to notice the slight headache, as I do this morning, from having 4 pints and a kebab last night (the latter which i probably didn't need), without beating myself up too much that I should know better by now.(GPs and Mindfulness teachers are human beings you know too!)
Maybe you are able to take your teenage child no 3 out to practise their driving without holding quite so tight to the passenger car seat as you did with Child No 1!
Maybe when the red mist comes down after a series of comments from your teenage child leads you to verbally lash out at them, and despite not fully calming down you are more able than you were to say Sorry before you go to sleep, and hug it out with them properly the next day and move on
Maybe you are able to change your usual Sunday morning Mindfulness practise to a mindful practising of your golf swing in the garden (feeling the body in movement, the sights and sounds of being out in the fresh air) ... something I have just taken up and am loving!
Life is a long journey and whatever help we can gain along the way in navigating this rollercoaster is to be welcomed. Mindfulness is but one of many tools that may help. But it takes some practise, and I wonder how the benefits of Mindfulness have shown up in your life?
Maybe we'll discuss that amongst other stuff at our first practise session of the new TMG Programme of Practise Sessions on Wednesday 8th September at 6.15pm-7.45pm - a date for your diary!
It will be so good to practice together again in person and maybe meet some of the faces I've only ever seen on a Zoom screen! We have a great new Conference Room at our new surgery in Tenterden in which to do this but don't worry if you can't make it to Tenterden in person, we have the technology to broadcast to the world from the room....so you can join us online and be part of the TMG community from the comfort of your own home too.
Many people who have taken our courses live around Kent, as do our excellent teachers, so the new programme will have a mix of face to face, online and longer mini-retreat sessions to support whatever works for you.
Putting in a bit of practise can make a world of difference -not to whether we become good meditators or not- but to making progress on what really matters--how we live our lives.
So whether you have given up on Mindfulness because you didn't feel you were good at it, or you are still practising in your own way and seeing the faintest glimmers of progress in your own life,or whether you are a Zen master....you're all welcome. Nearly everyone who makes the effort to turn up is glad they did, and haven't we all missed that joy of human connection?
I'll be leading the session on Wednesday 8th September evening so hope to see you in person or on the 85 inch screen! The finalised ongoing programme will be announced shortly.
It's good to be Back!