Group October 13th 2016

The session began with the 3-fold breathing practice - described below. We then used enquiry to describe how some of us experienced this 'embodied' practice. It was interesting how some found a deeper relaxation through this practice, others noticed a link between their physical experience and an emotional reponse - e.g. breathing from the upper chest sometimes producing a sense of constriction and anxiety, showing the interconnection between our bodily and emotionally felt states. There was also, as often noticed (or not!), that tendency to bring some fairly harsh judgement to bear as in 'how we are doing with this practice? 'or 'am I doing this right?'. With a new, and different practice, this seems even more in evidence - our anxiety moving us away from presence to critiquing our performance. Enquiry seems ever useful in showing up the commonality of this kind of negative self-judgement, but also the possibility of opening up to a kinder way of allowing our experience to be just as it is. 

Broader enquiry brought some discussion about the distinctions between 'formal' and 'informal' practice, and the tendency sometimes to discount the present moment awareness that we bring to everyday experience in favour of the formal sitting meditation etc. Sometimes it does seem practically hard to maintain a regular mediatation practice, so accepting this and letting other moments and experiences 'count' and 'be noticed' is a way to bring flexibility into 'practice', and then possibly moving once again to an intention to re-establish some more formal practice once again. 

There was discussion of the 'Lion's Roar' article 'Life is tough. Here are six ways to deal with it' by Norman Fischer (www.lionsroar.com/life-is-tough-six-ways-to-deal-with-it) The six are:

1.Turn all mishaps into the path

2. Drive all blame into one

3.Be grateful to everyone

4.See confusion as buddha and practice emptiness

5. Do good, avoid evil, appreciate your lunacy, pray for help

6. Whatever you meet is the path

It was interesting, and heartening, how such suggestions, if offered without sanctimony, and received with enough breadth, do resonate, no matter what our religion or belief system.

We concluded with a short practice.