Group August 3rd 2017

We began with a short 'Beginners Mind' practice from the 'Mindfulness Daily' series by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, reminding of the value of seeing with fresh eyes and renewed presence, staying curious and interested without judgement, which can, in Jack Kornfield's words, 'open a doorway to creative solutions' in our lives.

We followed on with a 'Kindness meditation - yourself' drawn from Erik van den Brink's and Frits Koster's 'Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living' which establishes a soothing breathing rhythm and then encourages the formation of kind wishes towards ourselves, finding a rhythm between the breath and the words and phrases, abbreviating the phrases, eventually letting go of them completely if that feels okay, resuming them if the mind wanders. Whatever arises, working with it kindly and compassionately, labelling, repeating words or phrases or focusing once more on the soothing breathing rhythm, possibly bringing to mind another kind being or beloved pet, before directing the feelings once more towards oneself.

There was enquiry following these practices, then more general enquiry about general mindful experiences over the previous month.

We discussed the three emotion regulation systems which Gilbert and others describe to help make sense of our complex emotional lives. These are 1. The Threat System 2. The Drive System 3. The Soothing System. These systems alternate in their dominance, depending on the situation, but insight into our own individual patterns of reaction and response can help us to see more clearly which systems have been 'practiced' more or less in our lives - and may help us for instance, through practice, shift the balance, towards less fear reactivity and greater soothing. For further discussion, exercises and practices see 'Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living' by Van den Brink and Koster.

We ended the session with a short practice on 'Intention', again taken from Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach.