November 2018 Meeting

We began with a reading from Kabat-Zinn's 'Coming To Our Senses' :

'Meditation is not about trying to get anywhere else. It is about allowing yourself to be exactly where you are and as you are, and for the world to be exactly as it is in this moment as well...That doesn't mean that your aspirations to effect positive change, make things different, improve your life and the lot of the world are inappropriate. Those are all very real possibilities. Just by meditating, by sitting down and being still, you can change yourself and the world. In fact, just by sitting down and being still, in a small but not insignificant way, you already have.' (p 61)

Kabat-Zinn goes on to explain this apparent paradox by saying:

'We need to develop and refine our mind and its capacities for seeing and knowing, for recognising and transcending whatever motives and concepts and habits of unawareness may have generated or compounded the difficulties we find ourselves embroiled within, a mind that knows and sees in new ways, that is motivated differently. This is the same as saying we need to return to our original, untouched, unconditioned mind.' (p 62)

Our practice was build upon the practice of 'Spacious Awareness' taken from the 'Mindfulness Daily' series guided by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach.This practice helps to open up, expand, allow more space for a mind which otherwise can easily contract, concretise, and limit  awareness. The first 10/15 minutes was spent forming intention, settling, focusing on the breath in the body. The next 15 minutes attention was moved to awareness of sound ... this awareness opens up the experience of sounds coming and going, arising, passing across awareness, and leaving. Awareness is likened to the sky - vast - with sound, like clouds, passing across. We moved to awareness of thought/images coming and going in space/awareness ... pleasant, unpleasant, neutral... Then to body sensations, emotions - held in awareness - in a vast sky, passing, changing. The practice ended with opening the quality of spaciousness to loving awareness for all beings.

The practice was followed by enquiry, opening up to broader enquiry of bringing mindfulness into our daily lives.

We ended with a brief version of Germer's 'Centering Meditation', taken from 'The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion' ((p.260-261). This is a securalized version of a meditation drawn from the 14th century, discovered in a Trappist monastery in Massachusetts. The meditation is designed to open our hearts and minds to inner guidance that is beyond our usual habits of thought, allowing personal words or phrases of supportive love to arise and become the focus of attention, before returning once more to the breath.