Musselburgh Mindfulness Drop-in Sessions for 2019
When - Last Thursday of the month (exc. Dec.), 6.30pm-8.30pm
(Jan. 31, Feb. 28, Mar. 28, Apr. 25, May 30, June 27, July 25, Aug. 29, Sept. 26, Oct. 31, Nov. 28, 2019)
Where - St Peter's Church Hall, 2 High Street, Musselburgh, East Lothian, EH21 7AG (Free on street parking)
What - Mindfulness practice group for people with some meditation experience.
(There is no need to book. Please just come along.)
How much - Suggested donation of £10 for each session.
I am pleased to offer these sessions in partnership with CHANGES Community Health Project. Each session is the opportunity for people who have completed an introductory mindfulness course or who have some experience of meditation to refresh or deepen their practice. I normally bring a theme to each session which we explore through meditation. There is also space to share your experience in the moment (if you wish) and be part of a safe and supportive meditation group.
I spent the most part of last week lying on the sofa trying to fight off a virus. I had picked up a flu-like virus from my husband who somehow managed to recover within a couple of days. Initially I wasn’t too put out by it. If anything I saw it as a good excuse to rest and catch up on some of my favourite TV programmes. But the virus seemed to like this chilled atmosphere too and decided to out-stay its welcome!
After three days of convalescence and not much improvement, I started to notice some fearful thoughts, wondering whether I had caught something more sinister than a winter bug. I also started to worry and procrastinate about whether or not to cancel my sessions with my clients the following day. My mood started to dip too, and some old gremlins were showing their heads. I started to get rather cross with my body for its failure to recover swiftly. I then started to feel resentful of my husband for bringing this bug to our home and not being more cautious (I had quarantined him to the guest room but it was still his fault, obviously!...). When blaming my husband didn’t work, I started to feel sorry for myself, creating a fertile ground for the negative bias of my mind to remind me (rather effortlessly) of some of my own failures and inadequacies and how lucky other people were and how obviously unlucky I was, and so on and so on and so on…
Until in a moment of clarity, I became aware of the unfolding of this inner drama and decided to cut it short by practicing a body scan. Then my voice of reason re-emerged... finally. By staying present, I started to sense how hard my body was actually working to recover, and realised that my self-pitying and blaming was only depleting it of some vital energy. So whilst I kept sneezing and coughing and aching in my meditation practice, I also decided to remember gratitude. And then something shifted.
I genuinely became thankful to my body for trying so hard to heal and for being a good body overall despite this momentary blip. I felt grateful for my husband’s choice to work from home an extra day to look after me. I felt thankful for being able to take some time off work to give my body time to heal; and to be able to rest in the safety and warmth of my home. I felt thankful for feeling the warmth of my little dog’s body curled up against me. I felt grateful for the cheeky text that my sister sent me when she heard I had caught “the bug” and for reminding me that I won’t have to do the cooking now that Paul (my husband) had recovered. And I felt thankful for the good wishes that my clients sent me when I had to cancel their session. And soon I noticed a growing feeling of resilience and, dare I say it, I felt lucky.
For our last drop-in session this year (please remember there will be no session in December),I am therefore inspired to revisit how to practice gratitude both in our meditation practice and in our everyday life. We will also give ourselves space to slow down and rest our body and mind. A welcome treat for some of you perhaps before the busyness of the festive season!
When was the last time you could delight in the happiness of another person? When you could wholeheartedly rejoice in their success, good fortune or well-being as if it were your own?
This kind of joy, also known as empathetic joy, is something that most of us experience in our life but rarely cultivate or consider valuable. It is the genuine sense of happiness we feel when someone we love has life going their way. This is not merely a case of telling someone we are happy for them, but a deep sense of joy which comes from sharing in their good fortune as if we ourselves just had something similar happen.
This ability to rejoice in the good fortune of others, however, is not something that comes easily to us. Often instead of rejoicing, we secretly find ourselves feeling a pang of envy, jealousy or even resentment. “I wish it was me”, ‘What if I lose out?”, “It is not fair!”... Do any of these sound familiar? Now imagine or feel what it would be like to sincerely share in the happiness of others more often, even of those we have never met before? How would this enrich your life and the life of others?
So why not giving yourself time this month to practice empathetic joy? I will introduce you to a new practice to help you cultivate your innate capacity to rejoice in the good fortune and good qualities of others as well as your own. We will also explore the common challenges that often arise from such practice with kindness and compassion.
This month I am drawn to revisit the importance of acceptance in our practice. I know from experience that our capacity to accept ourselves and our life in the moment is key to our well-being. Yet there are many misconceptions about acceptance. People often wonder if acceptance makes us doormat in our relationships; if acceptance is akin to resignation or if it makes us self-indulgent. Yet genuine acceptance doesn’t mean mindlessly indulging ourselves or others; nor does it mean becoming passive or having to like everything about ourselves.
Acceptance in the context of our mindfulness practice is our willingness to be completely open to the experience we are having right now, whatever it may be, instead of resisting it. Acceptance is the opposite of resistance. It is our willingness to pause and approach our physical or emotional pain with an attitude of self-enquiry, openness, and kindness instead of pushing anything away. And it is from this place of acceptance that we can act and respond to our life more wisely.
Practicing acceptance however is no mean feat. It takes time as we are hardwired to resist pain. Yet it is only through genuine acceptance that change can occur. As Carl Rogers, an influential humanistic psychologist, discovered for himself: “The great paradox was that it wasn’t until I accepted myself as I was that I was free to change.”
So let’s take time in our session this month to practice acceptance and see what happens when we can let go of resistance even just for a moment and allow ourselves to be just as we are.