October 2018 meeting

After a two month break we began with a a practice based on Jack Kornfield's 'Mindfulness: The Core Practice' taken from the 'Emotional Healing' section of the Sounds True 'Mindfulness Daily' (NB highly recommended as a 40 day, 10 minute a day guided programme). This particular practice is about " the power of mindfulness and kind attention (loving awareness) to notice experience just as it is - with a spacious, non-judgemental attention."

It 'simply' uses the anchor of the breath and/or chosen body anchor to open up to the whole play of experience in an inclusive way. Once established and steadied with the breath, the practice moves to the experience of sound before widening further to the waves of emotion, physical sensation and thought, acknowledging and allowing before returning to the breath or body focus, and always returning to the breath/breath&body anchor if overwhelmed. The practice closes with attention back to the breath.

This was followed by enquiry - around the practice itself and beyond. We shared obstacles and the value of diversity of practice, especially in emotionally turbulent times, personally and universally. We discussed the value of short practices, of movement practices such as mindful walking, and of not falling into self-criticism when it's tough to do much at all by way of formal practice. 'Informal' moments during a tricky day still count towards reminding us of the present moment, its small joys and kindnesses shown amidst sorrow, and of life's impermanence and of our shared humanity - even in the apparently dark midst.

We shared recent encounters with the mindfulness 'world' - Ruby Wax's 'How to be Human' book/show and the recent Sounds True 'Waking up in the World' online event. The latter took at wide ranging look at social & political activism, taking a broader world context for mindfulness, following individuals' drives and motivations to bring about a fairer, more just and sustainable world.

Our closing practice was taken from den Brink's and Koster's 'Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living' - 'The Breathing Space with Compassion - Coping with Emotional Pain' (p.81).This is a compassion-based variation of the 'coping' version of the 3 minute Breathing Space developed by Segal, Williams and Teasdale in their well-known 'Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression' (2013). In this version the practice has: phase 1)  Being present with open, kind awareness; phase 2) Allowing a soothing breathing rhythm  (to increase vagal tone and heart rate variability (HRV) to foster compassion) and phase 3) Allowing compassion to flow to the body and to the emotional pain - broadening from self to others if applicable.