November 2017 group

We began with an audio download from Reggie Ray entitled, 'The purpose of meditation' (from a Sounds True series 'The Power of Meditation'). This talk describes how meditation allows us to digest experience. RR believes medtation is probably more important now than it ever was -  in western culture especially, periods of 'aloneness' have been reduced. So why meditate? He says our lives today are so packed, busy, information-loaded, there is often little time to process our experience - we live on the surface. We often struggle with who we are, with our self-esteem, we go so fast all we often do is just hold on and maintain. The motivation to nurture compassion through meditation helps us to soften towards ourselves and also towards others. Meditation can help uncover our hearts and our potential.  So meditation - just 20 minutes a day - can have a huge impact on ourselves and our relatedness towards others.

We followed this talk with a short sitting practice, using our breath-within-the-body as our anchor. Towards the latter part of the practice we brought in loving-kindness or compassion or equanimity phrases of our choosing - or simply stayed with the breath.

We followed with group enquiry. Then there was discussion with linkage with the recent Radio 3 podcasts and the BBC 4 series 'In search of inner peace', reflecting on and celebrating the value of silence. It's possible that our society is repeatedly traumatising itself through bombarding with constant news, information, social media stimulation that is never individually processed or assimilated - the growth of mindfulness in our society is perhaps in part a 'wise' response to this - a stepping apart and inner dwelling to quieten and to tend.

'Now in 2017, Kabat-Zinn vibrates with an urgent belief that meditation is the "radical act of love and sanity" we need in an age of Trump, accelerating climate change and disasters such as the Grenfell Tower fire' ( from G2 interview, The Guardian, October 22nd 2017)

"Between stimulus and response there's a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." (Victor Frankl)