MBCT Week 8
I cannot believe we have arrived at Week 8 already! Huge thanks for your attendance and the energy and enthusiasm you brought the course. It wouldn’t have been anywhere near as much fun without you!
This week we explored what we learnt as a group and discussed how we intend to take our practice forward. I gave each of you that attended a pebble which I have collected from various travels around the world (I have one for each of you that couldn’t make it too!). We concluded with a meditation on this pebble just in the same way as we did the rasin/malteser exercise (except we decided somewhat wisely not to eat it!).
The pebble meditation reminded me of a beautiful quote that my teacher once shared with me:
I invite you to keep your pebble as a reminder of your commitment to yourself to watch your mind and continue your mindfulness practice into your future.
My new favourite metaphor:
We have often spoken about “difficult feelings” and how we deal with them. Whether you use the exercise “letting go of difficult feelings” or whether you use the “sitting with difficulty” mediation I have always found a good metaphor helpful!
If something happens that upsets you and you have feelings of hurt, anger, sadness, guilt, disgust etc the likelihood is that there will be a feeling associated with this in the body. Sometimes it is a heavy or sinking feeling or you may experience it as tension.
Our natural instinct as human beings is to want to “get rid” of the negative feeling by THINKING about the situation more. The reality is this just makes the feeling worse and then you start to get into a viscous cycle. Something many of us can relate to!
If you think of this feeling like a fire within, the natural human response is to throw sticks at that fire! The reality is that throwing sticks on a fire or using them to “beat it out” doesn’t work. They just simply fuel it!
To “get rid” of the fire we need to accept that first of all “it is here” and then step back and watch as it simply burns out. Remember this is what we noticed in “sitting with difficulty” - the more we just observed difficult feelings without feeding them with thoughts, the more they faded away.
A final mindful poem:
Sometimes poetry can so eloquently describe the mindful state. This poem has always struck me as a beautiful reminder of what is right here underneath our noses!
You asked if you could have a copy of meditations with my voice. Here are a couple to get you started and I will over time update this so please check back:
The THREE MINUTE BREATHING SPACE
The mountain meditation
My favourite meditation :). This is a beautiful metaphor for our relationship with the mind. We are not our thoughts, feelings or moods. All of these things are just “events” that we can observe; just like the weather and seasons that constantly change despite the solid unchanging mass of the mountain.
Our next steps!
So Jon Kabat-Zinn the creator of MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) said that the real session 8 is the “rest of our lives”. Rather than this being a farewell I hope that this is a new beginning where we can all adopt a more mindful future. As we have discussed many times there seems to be no shortcut to a regular daily practice. That is not to say we need to do an hour a day (although this would be great) - simply the 3 minute breathing space is a great place to start.
If we want to be able to truly become the observer of our thoughts we need to spend a short time each and every day watching the mind (wherever it goes) and bringing it back to the here and now.
This will act as an insurance policy for those times when life creates challenges. Mindfulness will be our resource for taking a step back from tricky situations so that we can use all our resrouces to respond appropriately and effectively (IF a response is required).
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can and the WISDOM to know the difference!
Bye for now
So for now this is goodbye but I am here on email if you have any queries:
I intend to run some practice days and a silent retreat (!) soon. I will be in touch with further details.
Meanwhile I will leave you with this:
"What day is it?" asked Pooh
" …It's today" squeaked Piglet …
"My favourite day!" said Pooh
Because yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift. That is the present!