Reflections on the Need for a Mindfulness Revolution
REMINDER UPCOMING MINDFULNESS TRAINING AT HOB HOUSE 25TH MAY
A gentle reminder for those who put their names on the list: the revised dates of the Mindfulness Course begin with Session One Saturday 25th MAY.
Only 12 days to go.
Some Thoughts from your facilitator and for those new to Mindfulness:
After an introduction to something that may be new there is often a initial wave of enthusiasm, that quickly fizzles out as the daily demands of life, work, and schooling etc. displace any thoughts of ‘Well, maybe I should give this a try’, which becomes ‘Heck do I really need to commit to four Saturday afternoons to have some peace of mind?’
No, you certainly don’t have to. But then I guess the question arises ‘What was I feeling/thinking when I put my name down?’
I agree that to decide to sign up to four Saturdays of Mindfulness Training sessions is a huge commitment. Imagine signing up to eight weeks! That is the standard MBSR. This is especially challenging here, which is why I have condensed the course into 4 weeks. It also costs less than in UK where the standard MBSR costs around £200.
But it’s not about money other than a reasonable return on the investment in teaching time and the venue.
It’s also not about engaging with anything that some may feel might be incompatible with their faith. And whilst it is true that its source is the Buddhist discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness Practice this is by no means embraced only by Buddhists, but has been embraced by hundreds of thousands from all faiths and none. The MBSR is basically a secular contemporary form of practice, and while I give an occasional nod to the Buddha by way of explaining its origins, the emphasis is solely on practice, on the breath, the sensations, feelings, and thoughts, and on nurturing awareness. I have had Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Hindus and Agnostics attending my sessions. It is available on the UK National Health Service, is taught in UK schools, in the corporate world, in the Houses of Parliament, and is embraced as an additional tool in psycho-therapeutic work and PTSD in many countries. Not to mention that there has been a highly transformative training programme in the Kenya Prison System since 2015. Isn't that amazing!
The emphasis is on Practice, and practice is engaging with your direct experience and not with beliefs. Mindfulness is deeply practical. Those who practiced have said they found there was nothing incompatible with their own faith. Indeed all faith traditions have long had contemplative and meditative practices at the heart of their teachings, and what we are engaging with here is the proven efficacy of such practice which gives all of us opportunities to broaden our perspectives, hone our meditative skills, and develop resilience, composure, and empathy with others through nurturing awareness, self-compassion and compassion.
We are living through extraordinary times, with unprecedented challenges, and Mindfulness has increasingly become a much embraced and highly effective tool for helping many thousands to cope with the stresses and demands of life that seem to increase with every passing year, not to mention all the stuff we hear on the news in a world where deep polarities seem to have become rooted in our political, social and economic systems.
I was reminded of this when only this morning into my inbox popped a message from Robert Wright* whose ground-breaking work in evolutionary psychology I drew upon for some of my last Mindfulness Course. I quote him:
One of the ironies of our connected age is that society has never seemed more divided. Bitterness and bias have infested our politics, TV networks, social media, and even our communities. This increasingly entrenched conflict between "us" and "them" isn't making us any happier, and it certainly isn't resolving the broader issues we all face.
Robert Wright was suggesting that we might all need Mindfulness to save the world from this growing divisiveness. He may not be exaggerating.
Robert himself is not just an evolutionary psychology theorist; he has practiced Mindfulness extensively, and feels that it holds a key to helping us overcome much of this polarization, reactivity and divisiveness that is afflicting our world.
If we are bringing up children in such a fraught environment we need all the help we can get to guide them through such a complex world. Where better to start than in our own daily lives? I would not be teaching this if I did not know that Mindfulness has such enormous benefits not only for personal stress management, but also as a genuine supporting tool for relationship issues, and for helping us to integrate the precision of intellectual inquiry with heart-centred wisdom.
One of the parents at Braeburn (I forget which) also asked if teenagers could attend.
They absolutely can.
I know that dates are always difficult to choose, and it is impossible to pick dates that suit everyone, and I do understand that. However while it is good to be able to attend all four, it is not mandatory, and if you can only make three out of four that is still good. It may be possible to fill in ‘gaps’, if they occur, on Skype. But obviously it is preferable to engage with the sessions collectively.
I hope you will re-focus on this opportunity and remind yourself why in that moment after the short practice we did at Braeburn you decided to put your name down.
When a group engages together in this kind of practice we learn the power of community in supporting each other with a very interactive process of sharing and nurturing insights and mutual empathy. And this must be a good thing.
Please be in touch and let me know. It is always useful to have feedback. And so if there are specific reasons why you might like to do this course but for some reason cannot commit this time, let me know the reasons: the day of the week, the time of year, the venue, the specific dates, other commitments, etc. It helps to plan future courses if I know.
I hope to hear from you soon to enroll and reserve your place on this Mindfulness Training Course.
May All Beings Live Wisely and Compassionately.
*Robert Wright, Author of The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology; Non-Zero: The Logic of Human Destiny.