The last few months have been a very busy time for me. Until this summer, I was living – and working – as a full time volunteer at Kagyu Samye Dzong in London. I moved out of the centre in August, since when I’ve immersed myself in the world of secular mindfulness.
In September, I started working two days a week for the Mindfulness Association, helping out with administration. Basically, my job is sorting out the pre- and post-course paperwork. This involves me travelling up to Manchester one day a week, where the MA hires a room in the Manchester Buddhist centre, and the various people involved in the administration of the MA (Heather, Hannah, Helen and Jane) assemble around the library table, to work on our laptops and discuss MA courses. It came as quite a surprise to me how much administration is involved in running the MA. It has been great getting to know the rest of the admin team, and I do look forward to my days in Manchester.
I’ve also started doing a lot more teaching over the last few months, in London, at Samye Ling and (this weekend coming) in Barcelona. This is an exciting, rewarding, challenging, and tiring element to my job. I’m loving it! As I write this, I’m preparing for going out to Barcelona, for my first time teaching abroad. I don’t speak a work of Spanish, so will be working with a translator, which will be interesting.
In addition, I am also trying to finish the Aberdeen University MSc in Mindfulness. I’m now in my final year (for the second time) and am writing my dissertation on “Mindfulness and Ethics”. This has been on the back-burner for the last few months, but it is something I want to get back into, and hope to finish it at the start of next year. To inspire myself, I have recently bought a few new books on the subject, which I hope to find some time to read in the near future.
I was asked to mention what my “bedside reading” is, but with all the teaching I’ve been doing recently – rather predictably – I seem to spend a lot of time re-reading the MA manuals. I’ve recently finished reading “Mindfulness for Beginners” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I found this quite inspiring, and much more approachable than “Full Catastrophe Living”, and is one that I would certainly recommend for beginners. After Rob Nairn’s “Diamond Mind”, that is.
I must admit, however, that I am looking forward to Christmas and having some time to immerse myself in a good murder mystery. I’ve been working my way through the C.J. Sansom “Shardlake” series this year, and am now up to the fifth book. I’m not sure if I can find a mindfulness angle on these!