Joanna’s Story

Joanna McGregor is one of the members of the Mindfulness Association. She was kind enough to share her inspiring story of how after a terrifying mountaineering accident, her mindfulness and compassion practice not only carried her through but enabled a deep sense of gratitude and a love for life to take root. Have a read….

I was brought up in a family that loved the outdoors. I regularly climbed trees. We were all strong. Dad took all of us walking as children so that Mum could have time to garden, and in my teens I used to rock climb quite safely with a school friend because then my balance was good and he was a good climber. In the Summer when it was busy and hot we went sailing on the Lake. I was totally fearless. As I grew older and became less fit, I was unhappy about walking with groups that were more fit, but still felt quite secure walking. I never dreamt that one day I might have a near death experience in the hills that would leave me feeling so lucky to be alive.

Joanna1I had a serious mountain accident in The Lake District nearly two years ago, when I was on holiday. The others in the group were ahead. The path onto the ridge was one of the early paths to be built, with steps that seemed enormous. I hadn’t hiked a steep mountain for a year, although I had walked on lower levels, and the ascent exhausted me. To try to keep up with the group, I set a pace for myself that was uncomfortably fast.

After lunch near the top, heavy mist came in, then we lost our way. The shepherd’s path petered out and became a sheep track. We realised we were heading down the same path we had ascended, rather than heading towards an easier contour path. That was the last straw — I couldn’t face it. Mentally, I was finished. Also, I was angry inside. Remembering the huge steps of the ascent which had seemed to go on and on, it seemed that the descent would be even worse.

I can’t remember exactly how I was injured. It all happened so quickly and is a bit of aJoanna2 blur now. At one point there was a small scramble down. The way the others chose looked difficult to me so I opted for another route which involved negotiating an overhang. I don’t think I was aware of that – I’m usually very good at testing the footholds before planting my feet. Maybe it was exhaustion. I was facing the rock, which I thought was the safest thing to do, but I fell and my new, heavier rucksack seemed to pull me down. I plummeted and rolled, gathering momentum, my head hitting stones . I didn’t feel any pain, but then I hit a boulder head on.

Joanna! The urgency in my sister’s voice woke me up, and it seemed as if she was reminding me of my upbringing – we are McGregors, leaders of clans! I needed to do something to stop my slide down the mountain. I put out my arm and I knew that my wrist would be broken and I might not be able to play the piano any more, but I wanted to save my life. I flipped onto my front, the way I’d been taught in the gym club at school. And then the sliding stopped. I knew I was injured – there was blood running down my face, and I was right, my wrist had been broken. I felt like an injured animal.

My sister began scrambling down to where I lay. She was with me in minutes, and she called 999. Eventually she got through to the local Mountain Rescue Centre. She followed their instructions and the mountain rescue team were able to pinpoint our location and to keep in touch with her. Our friends got out their survival bags and covered me with their blankets, and munched on energy bars. My sister had lost her appetite, and I remembered my nurse training and knew I should keep completely still to prevent further injury and not eat anything in case emergency surgery was necessary.

 It was cold and bleak in the mist. I remained conscious. I was thinking about serious injury – brain haemorrhage, internal bleeding. It all seemed unreal that this was happening to me.

 Lying there, I remembered words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine who teaches reduction of stress through mindfulness. ‘So long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong with you’ The memory of these words comforted me.

After what seemed like a long time we heard the welcome sound of a helicopter. It circled us, but the mountain terrain was rough and loose, and there was nowhere to land. The noise of the helicopter faded into the distance. The situation seemed hopeless. But, to my immense relief, out of the mist appeared two figures, a doctor and a paramedic, who had climbed up the steep slope from the helicopter below. With their arrival we all began to feel safe and members of our party were soon helping the rescuers put up a tent to keep us all warm. I was examined and given two injections, even though I wasn’t in pain at that time. I trusted them to do what was needed.

Meanwhile, volunteers were pelting up the mountainside carrying rescue equipmentJoanna3. They brought a heavy stretcher which worked like a sledge. Carefully they lifted me onto it and strapped me down. The stretcher is so heavy it took 14 working in relays to lift and pull it to where the helicopter had landed. The air ambulance lifted off, and we were on our way at last.

In the helicopter I kept quiet so that I didn’t distract the team from monitoring me. Imagine my surprise when over the radio I heard a familiar voice – it was my former director from work, coordinating the rescue from the base. At first I struggled a bit with this – I hadn’t always found work easy. But then I reflected – I remembered a compassionate letter he wrote to me when my Mum had died many years ago, and how Dad had been moved by it. I also remembered how he shared my love of being in the mountains and, how, like myself, he had always wanted to help other people. Now he was he was helping if possible to save my life The rest of the hiking party was accompanied by the rescue team down the mountain, then my sister drove them back to our apartment before making the long road journey to the Preston Royal Hospital to be with me.

After my condition was stabilized in Accident and Emergency, the medical staff began tending my injuries – my wrist was plastered, plastic surgery was performed on my face under local anaesthetic. Trolleys were pushed in and out so fast and help was provided with such ease that my sister said it was ‘like scones being baked in the oven!’ Meanwhile, I lay still and quietly meditated, doing the Metta Practice, just as Sharon Salzburg describes in her recorded teaching. Metta Practice is a form of meditation which kindles loving kindness for all living beings – oneself, friends, enemies, animals, strangers … Loving kindness grows from inspired phrases which reflect our deepest interest. The phrase I used at that time, for myself and for the theatre staff, was, ‘May I be safe, may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live with ease.’ This was a phrase I could easily focus on, one I could readily recall, and one that seemed appropriate to my situation.

The Occupational Therapy Department fitted a ‘fencing brace’. This supported my spine and gave my broken vertebrae the chance to heal. My background in yoga and rock climbing enabled me to keep my back straight and aid the healing process.

There was never a dull moment on the ward. It was always busy with acute emergencies and evolving situations. There were people much worse off than me who were brave and humorous. There was good teamwork among the staff. Porters, cleaners and nurses alike, treated the patients with tough love, jokes and kindness. The nurses helped me move in and out of bed, and negotiate stairs, and perform ablutions and shower. Although I suffer from manic depression, I settled in the ward and forgot about my own problems. The Preston Royal is a specialist hospital which provides superb care. I was so lucky to be admitted there. The holistic treatment from the staff helped me to recover from my physical injuries, but I also healed in other ways too. I became aware of aspects within myself that I never knew before. I realised that I am sociable, that I have inner strength. I was inspired to laugh more – to survive in a hospital you need a brilliant sense of humour!

Family and friends rallied around. My sister visited every day, a trip of several hours, and brought shopping – not the firm white cauliflowers she used to bring for Mum at home, but dressing gowns, fruit, books – in fact, whatever I needed. My brother washed my clothes and brought treats like peppermint creams. His wife lent me a ‘slanket’, a type of fleecey blanket with arms. My aunt and her family came all the way from Aberdeen, friends from the charity shop where I volunteer came too.

 Initially, I was on morphine and codeine for the pain, but they gave me strange dreams, and they meant I had to use laxatives which led to me feeling like an untrained spaniel puppy!

Also I knew that dealing with the pain was somehow up to me. So after a week I stopped using them and managed the pain with paracetamol and meditation.

There were two guided meditations that I listened to during the day which greatly benefited the healing process while I was in hospital – the ‘body scan’ by Jon KabatZinn and the ‘compassionate body scan’ from The Mindfulness Association. These meditations stabilized my mood as well as helping with managing the pain and with healing. It was these meditations that helped me come off the morphine, and to overcome the temptation to scratch at my itchy stitches.

Three of my favourite gems of the compassion meditations that I learnt from Samye Ling helped me through the ordeal are: ‘ I am not alone’, ‘RAIN Practice (based on The Guesthouse poem), and ‘Safe Place’. At night as I lay awake, perhaps listening to a vulnerable old person in the annex next door, shouting to go home, I would remember phrases shared by Clive Holmes, ‘This is a difficult moment. We all experience moments of difficulty. What can I do in this moment of difficulty?’ Or I would reflect, ‘I am not alone’ – hospital staff and patients are awake all over the world. Occasionally I’d ask for toast, or get up for a while. Or I would meditate on all the sounds from the machines on the ward, listen to other people awake and whispering or peacefully asleep, the doctors giving instructions to help with procedures.

IMG_2414Like doctors, I believe that everyone’s life is precious. I saw them working round the clock, performing incredible operations to save lives. They worked weekdays and weekends. I watched everyone in the hospital do their very best in the circumstances that they found themselves in. I remembered what a survivor my Dad had been, and how warmhearted and determined my Mum had been. I was glad to be alive. There was so much to be thankful for – I hadn’t sustained any serious damage to my nervous system, the conservative treatment of my broken vertebrae was succeeding. I was becoming more independent. There had been many tough times over the past weeks, but also heartwarming encouragement from everyone, staff and patients. When the time drew near for me to leave the hospital, I knew I would miss them all, and life on the ward, but I had to move on.

By September 2016, the hospital period of rehabilitation was over and I returned to my flat. What a change! At first I had the support of a carer who breezed in and helped me shower, and a recovery team to help me adjust. A month later they left, and I missed them. I also missed life on the hospital ward, no doctors to keep me on my toes, no daily visits from my sister, although my brother visited when he could.

After another month, my sister and I attended an appointment at the outpatient room, and the consultant declared that I had made a complete recovery. It was only when my sister exclaimed, ‘Yippee!’ and jumped for joy that I realised how worried she had been all this time. The only thing I had to show for my ordeal was a hairline scar on my face.

 I decided to restart my piano lessons. I was given two physiotherapy appointments to help regain the use of my wrist and back. But despite this, I found it difficult. A sense of loneliness engulfed me, and I began to get depressed. I received a beautiful letter from the outpatient consultant offering me encouragement, but that was not enough. I needed to find more help to find a new life in this Post-Dispatch phase.

That help came through my Community Psychiatric Nurse. I started attending the Recovery College organised by CADAS. This is a course for people who are recovering from mental health problems, teaching life coping skills.

My happy experience of the hospital ward made me realise how important it is to be involved in a community. So I have started attending classes in physio-pilates. This has helped with my physical mobility and strength, and my back is much better now. I have returned to volunteering with Age UK. I also have fun doing housework with my cleaner. There is a lively creative writing group in the café where I meet the Recovery Group, and I’m enjoying my piano lessons again – I hope I will be able to play for others one day. From time to time I walk with the local ramblers, and my sister sometimes joins me for holidays – we are happy to walk on different grades during the day, and meet up in the evenings.

At the time of writing, August 2017, I have been discharged from the NHS, and I have said goodbye to my CPN. A further adjustment lies ahead on the road to a full recovery. From time to time I experience a lack of connection, I isolate myself from others and feel alone. That can lead to paranoia or mood swings brought on because I refuse to acknowledge my suffering and the suffering of others, (Sharon Salzburg describes this in her books), and I become unwell. But I have that compassionate letter from my psychiatrist, a tool kit of meditations, and the help of my Ffriends and family, and I’m learning not to kick myself quite so hard. My inner, critical voice is slightly softer now, and I meditate more than I did before the accident. As Maya Angelou puts it, I have so many rainbows in my clouds. So many people have helped me along the way, and now whenever I need them I remember them – they come with me wherever I go.

Through the accident and the help of others, my life has been transformed – I can never feel that my life is not worthwhile when so many people in the NHS, the mountain rescue, volunteers, paramedics, neighbours, friend, family, and others from Samye Ling, have worked so hard to help. The love and support have been overwhelming. Surviving a close to death encounter on the mountains has taught me so much about myself and others, and I hope my story brings happiness.

Post script a year on

I was discharged from the mental health services 9 months ago. I have been fine but just at the moment I’m finding life hard. It’s exciting times. I’m moving into a bungalow with a garden! But I won’t have a spacious hall cupboard and loft for storage there. So I have to downsize … Everyone is helping me with this new venture. I am also remembering my coping skills and my family are a great support. Today I listened again to a lovely meditation which was shared by Clive Holmes, just when I was getting stressed about becoming ill again. At the end of this meditation Clive gives the invitation to ask: ‘Is this real?’ So I asked myself; ‘ Is this real ? ’ Are my thoughts really true? Perhaps I wasn’t ‘ slipping back as I had thought, but just had a natural reaction to moving house and needn’t fear that I was becoming ill. I then reflected on a few of the things that made me feel lucky. I concluded that I must be one of the luckiest people alive! I felt better. That inspired me in turn to play the piano and to send a recording to my sister. She responded immediately saying how much she had enjoyed listening to it. Following that I went out and kept a lunchtime engagement with friends. So I think I have come a long way.

With thanks to Clive Holmes and The Carlisle Meditation Group The tutors and participants on The Mindfulness Association Courses My sister for correcting details of the rescue The editing completed by Joan Gooding and encouragement from friends including Khareen Pech. Ref: book with CD: the Mindful Way Through Depression, Jon Kabat-Zinn, books by John Williams online meditations by Sharon Salzberg, Kristin Neff. Tara Brach. Jack Kornfield

-Joanna McGregor

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Appreciation and Gratitude

IMG_20180112_132339I am just back from my travels in India, with a group of friends, where we spend 3 weeks in the southern state of Kerala. We started in Neyyar Dam, on the outskirts of the jungle for an intense 10 day stay in the Sivananda Yoga Ashram where we practiced 4 hours of yoga a day along with 3hrs of meditation and chanting. We began meditation at 6am, however, the karma yoga I had been allocated was to prepare the temple prior to our 6am start. This meant I was up just after 5 to prepare the temple for the arrival of approx 500 people ready to practice. Getting up at this time was challenging when I had struggled to sleep in the heat if India, however, preparing the temple in silence and darkness was a meditation in itself. It became a deeply wonderful mindful experience where I could hear the tigers roaring, the many different varieties of birds, feel the breeze on my skin, the heat and experience the sun rising surrounded by the beauty of the ashram. Some mornings we would walk in silence to the local dam and experience the sun rise over the water which was absolutely beautiful. On our walk back, the local village was awakening to begin the business of the day. I loved our first 10 day, immersed in ashram life with a strict schedule each day to follow which was deeply mindful.IMG_20180114_070420

Part two of our three week trip took us to Varkala which was by the white sands and beautiful long beach overlooking the Arabian Ocean where we enjoyed a more relaxing second half of our trip. We went to a local yoga class each morning and often walked the long beach. Many mornings we watched people practice yoga on the beach or simply felt the warm sand under our feet whilst listening to the sound of the crashing waves hitting the sand. Many mornings local families would arrive to see the visiting sadhus, for a spiritual offering and this was fascinating to observe. The second part of our trip was equally fabulous.

IMG_20180116_112732India is magical and challenging at the same time! The heat and humidity makes you slow down in life, you simply can’t do anything at the fast pace we have in the west. The noise level can sometimes feel quite overwhelming, the poverty and depravation is eye opening! Yet at the same time, it is magical; it has a deeply spiritual side with many absolutely stunning temples and beautiful scenery. So many have very little in the way of materialism, yet you will find many are very happy, especially the children. It was quite evident to me that many in India appreciate and accept what they have, which is often much less than we have here in the west!

I have returned home to value and appreciate everything I have; a comfortable home,IMG_20180120_135455 the people in my life, the work that I do which I love, basics such as hot running water, drinking tap water, a wonderful health system, quietness, regular yoga and mindfulness practice to name a few. Since returning I feel full of joy, gratitude and appreciation for what I have and how lucky I am. I have really been able to pause and appreciate more in life since returning from India. Pausing, slowing down and practicing gratitude is a wonderful practice which I would encourage you to connect deeply to and feel the benefits.

Good luck.

-Tina Gilbert

Tina is a Lead Tutor for the Mindfulness Association and will be teaching on a Level 1: Being Present course starting in Edinburgh this June (2018). For more information, please click here

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Going To The Places That Scare Us

Heather Mac2This winter has felt long to me, and very, very cold.  The turn inwards – the phase of ‘being’ – during the more reflective seasons of autumn and winter has felt so complete, and my experience of hibernation so habituated, that I was beginning to wonder if I would ever again know and feel the complementary sense of outward-turning – the phase of ‘doing’.  As the tender shoots of new growth are starting to emerge from the ground, a feeling of relief has gently washed over me, almost as if the sun is finally rising and casting its warm glow on my skin after a long, cold night.  New ideas are beginning to form and take shape; creativity, slumbering in me, is awakening once again.  As spring approaches, it’s time to reflect upon what it is that each of us wishes to grow this year in our fertile garden of possibilities.  Where will our intuitions take us?  What will we choose to do with our one, wild and precious life?  As I sit here and ponder this question for myself, I invite you to do the same.

Right now, I’m preparing to gather results of my PhD research, looking into how mindfulness and self-compassion may fit into the education system and how they might affect secondary school pupils’ experience of schooling.  For this research, I created the ‘Mindfulness Based Living Course for Young Adults (MBLC-YA) for the Mindfulness Association, and last year we trained our first cohort of teachers. What an experience it was to connect with those courageous people on that teaching retreat.  I say courageous because teaching self-compassion to teens in schools in the UK is very new.  We are essentially breaking new ground!

Our children and teens are struggling – perhaps more than ever before – because the challenges they face are unprecedented; it can be argued that the way we live our lives, increasingly permeated by social media, is proving progressively more difficult for young minds to cope with.  Currently mothering three teens, I’m able to observe how difficult it is for them to navigate their way in the world at this point in our evolution.

To be completely honest, teaching mindfulness and self-compassion to teens scares me.  I’m not sure that I would be entirely human if it didn’t!  When we learn mindfulness, we learn to ‘work our edge’ and be curious about that which we would normally automatically recoil from.  We want to stay nice and comfortable, don’t we, because it feels safe?  Yet I remember being profoundly moved by something that Pema Chӧdrӧn said in her book, ‘The Places that Scare Us’:

“May we continue to open our hearts and minds, in order to work ceaselessly for the benefit of all beings.
May we go to the places that scare us.
May we lead the life of a warrior.”

When I’m standing in front of a class, feeling my feet on the floor, noting the flow of my breath and looking around the room at all of those young faces, I know how easy it would be to see myself as ‘other’ than these pupils, yet I can also remember my own struggles as a teen.  Reconnecting with that inner teen brings me back into that ‘me too’ space.  I wonder what their lives are like and what struggles they face. I have a feeling that we share so many of the same struggles, because – quite simply – we are human.  I know that our journey together won’t always be easy and that my ego may feel threatened at times. Yet it feels important – so very, very important – to gently sow the seeds of mindfulness and self-compassion with a wish that those seeds may one day, at the appropriate time, take root and flourish.  After all, the world sorely needs more loving presence.  Will you join me at our next MBLC-YA teaching skills retreat at Samye Ling, from 17th to 22nd July 2018?  Together we can learn more about going to the places that scare us 😊.

With much love,

Heather (Bond) x

For more information on the MBLC-YA retreat: click here

 

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The Joyful Club

The Joyful Club: Mindfulness Association Membership Weekend
at Samye Ling 6-8 July 2018 and Membership Retreat 6-11 July 2018
joyful jumping
 
At our Compassion in Action Membership weekend in 2016 at Samye Ling, Lama Yeshe Rinpoche invited us to join his joyful club. Inspired by this, we are running our 2018 Membership weekend on 6 to 8 July 2018 on this theme. For those members who are looking for a 5 day retreat in 2018, we are providing this by adding three retreat days after the Membership weekend.
 
This a great opportunity for us all to come together again in joy and celebration, not least because we are part of a community committed to cultivating compassion for all (including ourselves)!
 
Over the weekend we will explore practices to cultivate joy. We will cultivate our ability to appreciate and be grateful for all the good things in our life and our strengths, rather than focussing on all the problems and the things that are wrong with us. Joy brings with it the energy to get things done that need to be done and the energy to fuel compassion for ourselves, those around us and the wider world.
 
Oh and don’t forget the laughter lines, so much more flattering than the frown lines!
 
The hope is that cultivating joy will enable us all to be a lot happier. We have many wonderful people and opportunities in our lives and the more we appreciate them, the happier we will get.
 
For those who wish to stay on for the retreat days, we will extend these themes and teachings into these three days. There will be one teaching session on each of the retreat day mornings, with the reminder of the day in guided and silent practice with sharing, enquiry and discussion in the evening. We will have periods of silence each day in the mornings until after lunch.
 
Lama Yeshe Rinpoche will be with us on the weekend to take questions on this topic and to share his expertise and experience of living a joyful life. Jane, Heather, Choden, Kristine and Fay will also be there to lead sessions of teaching and practice over the weekend and retreat.
 
The weekend and retreat are great for those who have done our Level 1 and Level 2 training to consolidate and gain confidence in their ongoing Mindfulness practice. It is also a great way for Mindfulness teacher members to meet their CPD retreat requirements in a cost effective way. For those who have completed our Level 3 training, we recommend our Level 4 retreat: click here 
 
Weekend Fee: £100 – begins 7pm Friday evening and ends Sunday at 3pm (members only) – to book your course place, please email info@mindfulnessassociation.net
 
Retreat Fee: £200 – begins 7pm Friday evening and ends Wednesday at 3pm (members only) – to book your course place, please email info@mindfulnessassociation.net
 
Not a member? To see details of membership: click here.
 
We have an introductory offer of £10 for the first 6 months of membership.
 
Please book your accommodation separately at Samye Ling: click here

Engaged Mindfulness – Compassion in Action

How can our mindfulness skills help to resource us for making positive change in the world?

There may be many things happening today in our world that feel deeply concerning and huge at the same time. These might include climate change, social and political injustice, poverty, animal welfare issues… topics with no easy answers, no quick fixes, no one-person solutions possible. So what good would it do for us to think about or get involved with these things and get overwhelmed/depressed/anxious/angry, when it can feel like I can’t make much difference anyway?
Fair enough question. But… in this deeply interconnected world, not looking and not acting is not a recipe for happiness either. So as we are practising mindfulness for the benefit of ourselves and others, and it’s worth looking at how we might apply the same principles we use in personal practice to relating to these bigger issues.

In the compassion training of the Mindfulness Association we work with the definition of compassion the Dalai Lama has given us:

“compassion is a sensitivity to suffering in self and others, with a strong commitment to try to relieve it.”

So if we want to grow our compassion and find a way to actively contribute to creating the world we’d like to live in, it might require a deliberate turning towards those difficult subjects – becoming more rather than less sensitive to them. But it’s important to first cultivate our inner resources so that we’re ready to ‘face the mess we’re in’, and the practice of gratefulness is a very powerful way to do this.

Engaged Mindfulness 1Not only does gratitude give rise to good feelings, but it deeply connects us to what we love and therefore want to protect. This love and interconnectedness might be the most powerful motivation to move out beyond our comfort zone – to deeply feel and even honour the pain for our world that we are part of. In the words of Frederick Beuchner, we’re called to ‘the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet’. And finding this  place requires a willingness, an openness and (re)connecting with both our love and concern for the world.

So with this increased sensitivity to the suffering in ourselves and others (ranging from our loved ones to other human beings who may live in a different part of the world or look different from us, have different values or beliefs, as well as animals or even ecosystems), we may again need resourcing to see what the ‘strong commitment to try to relieve it’ might look like. Connecting with empowering and inspiring perspectives of interconnection and bigger picture can grow the commitment to come into action, starting right where we are. No need to save the world alone, but ‘though I am only one person, I can be one person who makes a difference’.

Engaged Mindfulness 2This spiral of gratitude, honouring the pain for the world, seeing with new eyes and going forth, is one that we can move through again and again in small and big ways, as we practice engaging with the world. It’s a tried and tested pathway from the Work That Reconnects which was brought into the world by Buddhist scholar and environmental activist Joanna Macy. The spiral can be a helpful container for meeting these big topics in a way that turns a ubiquitous worry into powerful compassionate action, an ‘outer practice’ which is a seamless extension from our practice of mindfulness and compassion on the cushion.

The term ‘engaged mindfulness’ is derived from ‘Engaged Buddhism’, which refers to Buddhists who are seeking ways to apply the insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to situations of social, political, environmental, and economic suffering and injustice. This movement within Buddhism was started by Thich Nhat Hanh in 1963, at a time when his country was ravaged by the Vietnam War. Both the current Dalai Lama and the 17th Karmapa have voiced a need for Buddhists to be more involved in the social, political  and environmental realm.

There are many ways to practice engaged mindfulness.  The Mindfulness Association offers a weekend course on this topic in Samye Ling on 26-28 January. For more info, please click here.

-Kristine Mackenzie Janson

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The Wonder of It All…

About a year ago, my dear friend and colleague Fay Adams and I came together to film and create the first ever Mindfulness Association online course: The Wonder of The Everyday.

The inspiration behind the course was to find a way to encourage some mindful moments of savouring the wonder and joy that can be found in what many people might see as the mundane.

Or as the writer Henry Miller says, “[t]he moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” So how can we cultivate this same wonder and curious engagement with our own lives so that they might be experienced as the shining miracles that they are?

IMG_3760When I think back to filming the course a year ago, I can still remember taking a painfully early flight over to Manchester and then a train down to Fay’s house, which sits on the edge of the Cheshire plain in England.

While on the train, the sun began to rise, illuminating the fields, the trees and the tracks, transforming them into what felt like a mythical, mist filled land- just like from a story book, only it was real. So, I took out my phone, and moved to the other side of the train carriage to get a picture and bathe in the glow and warmth of the early morning, winter sun.

As I did this, others on the train started to take notice of the sunrise. In fact, my moving seats to bask in the light allowed and reminded others to take a closer look, and soon we were all watching the sunrise together. People started smiling, making eye contact and talking to one another, and the atmosphere in the carriage shifted from a cold dreary commute to a shared experience of wonder. It truly was magical.

This happened because we all decided to look up and notice the simplicity of a new dawn rising. Something that happens in the everyday.

More and more of these moments of clarity happened in those few days of filming: quietFullSizeRender (10) rests on Fay’s couch with books in hand; conversations filled with presence between Fay, her partner and I that not only connected us, but had us in fits of giggles; as well as walks through the countryside to come full circle and to watch the sun go down. The mood was definitely one of wonderment.

So it is that time of year again, and as I nostalgically look back, I am feeling inspired and reminded to slow down today and to take in all that is around me with the same curious fervour. I am also excited to invite you to join Fay, my other colleague Alan Hughes and I to journey once again into The Wonder of The Everyday, this coming January. Let it be your New Year Revolution to join in community with us (just like all those on that early morning train), to look up and take notice and to cultivate some mindfulness in our everyday, as we move about the world.

-Jane

Course Outline

January 15th 2018- February 26th 2018

Live sessions on Monday evenings at 7pm – 8.30pm: 22nd of Jan and 5, 19, 26 Feb

Includes:

  • 8 specially pre-recorded videos by Fay Adams
  • 6 ten- minute guided daily life audio practices
  • 4 group meetings online with Jane Negrych and Alan Hughes
  • Tutor available via email for support throughout
  • Weekly worksheets and handouts

Price £120 for non-members and £80 for MA members (concessions available).

You will receive a weekly email (beginning on 15th Jan) with links to the talk, the audio for the week and the online meeting to be held on the following Monday on Fuse. Worksheets will also be included as attachments.

For more information and to book: please email info@mindfulnessassociation.net

Take a look at Fay Adams speaking of The Wonder of The Everyday (and don’t forget to follow us on YouTube)

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Calling All Mindfulness Teachers…

Are you looking to develop and deepen your skills at mindful inquiry, while creating the conditions for holding and facilitating safe sharing within groups?

Check out our CPD course that is taking place on March 23-25th/ 2018 at Samye Ling Tibetan Centre.

This course meets the requirements of the UK Network of Mindfulness- Based Teacher Training Organizations.

CPD Weekend – Inquiry Skills and Group Dynamics for Mindfulness Teachers

10626544_10152687567030449_1156977106725654252_nJoin us for a weekend dedicated to developing skills in two areas – inquiry and group holding (Domains 5 and 6 of the MBITAC).

We’ll be taking a practical, experiential, and at times, theoretical approach to deepening these skills, working in pairs and within small groups to cultivate confidence and dexterity in group facilitation and natural curiosity and ease in inquiry.

We intend to look together at how we can create a sense of safety in our groups. Flight/fight/freeze responses can take hold and play out in groups settings, limiting where the group can go. Establishing a basic felt-sense of safety together is a prerequisite for participants’ receptivity to learning and practicing mindfulness. This also enables authentic communication which brings forth the powerful experience of common humanity.

We also hope to spend some time looking at how we ‘view’ our groups, experimenting with the idea that if we work with our view, we may find that fresh responses and a new openness can arise within us in the moment when we’re facilitating. In this way we’ll see that a lot of what happens is just what groups do and we’ll begin to see the group more as a dynamic field, rather than simply as a collection of separate individuals.

We’ll be surfacing the difficulties that we all fear in relation to holding a group and inquiry and will explore what works well and what does not in relation to specific situations that can arise. We’ll be asking you to bring with you examples of situations you’ve experienced and we’ll work with these as a group, using role-play to bring a sense of fun to the process.

As a foundation for all of the above we’ll be spending time working with grounding and mindful movement, reminding ourselves that who we are and how we are is fundamental to how we facilitate.

When you book for this weekend you’ll be sent the following two questions to help us prepare and co-create the weekend with you:

  • Do you have an example of a challenging situation that you’ve experienced or that you are afraid of experiencing when teaching mindfulness in a group?
  • What in particular will you like to have learned by the end of this CPD weekend

For more information and to book, please email info@mindfulnessassociation.net

Location: Samye Ling Tibetan Centre, Eskdalemuir (nr Lockerbie) Please click here to book your accommodation and meals

Tutor: Fay Adams and Annick Nevejan
Dates: 23-25 March 2018
Times: The weekend begins at 7pm (evening meal at 6pm) on the Friday evening, between 8am and 8pm on Saturday and between 8am and 3.30pm on Sunday.
Cost: £150.00 for the weekend

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