As many of you know I moved to Scotland in the autumn last year. There were many reasons. One was to be close to Samye Ling where most of my teaching work is located, but also to be a part of the community of meditation and dharma practice there. When Lama Yeshe Rinpoche is there I can pop over for the morning meditation, which I find very powerful as it gives my levels of joyfulness a boost. It has been very supportive for me in my work at the MA to be more connected with Samye Ling.
We also moved away from a community that we felt was no longer in tune with our values to be part of one that was.
My husband is a hill runner and has connected with his community of people who like running up hills, by joining the local running club.
I have also set up a local weekly mindfulness practice group in Dumfries with my friend Moira. The group met for the first time last week and was very friendly. I am looking forward to being part of this community of practice and making some new friends with similar values close to my new home.
The Dumfries group is also on the MA membership site (for more on our membership click here) and there is also a group for Aberdeen and for central Scotland. I hope that practice groups, linked to the membership will start to spring up all around the country. All it takes is a couple of Mindfulness teachers to connect and volunteer to set up a weekly group. We have a suggested donation of £5 towards the costs of room hire and tea and coffee, and any excess we will give to the Akong Rinpoche Memorial Fund. All the mindfulness teachers in the group will be invited to take a turn in leading the sessions, so Moira and I can also get a chance to practice as participants. I am curious to see how it unfolds and am very happy to spend my Wednesday evenings in this way.
Then there are my friends who were in India doing the same meditation course. I take care to stay in touch with them for mutual support.
Then there is my community of work within the MA and the wider mindfulness community.
I understand how important it is to feel a part of communities that have similar values to me and with hindsight I can see how I have put the effort in. I have had to extricate myself from communities with conflicting values, that I have found unsupportive to my practice and the lifestyle I aspire to live and at times this process has been painful. Sometimes I have been involved in setting up new communities and I continue to make the effort to stay connected with others and to nurture these connections. I actively do this each day – via text, email, phone, face to face – and while I am motivated to care and support those around me – I feel very nurtured and supported myself!
So if you feel isolated, think about how you can connect and who you can connect with. You may well find that others around you also feel isolated and are grateful to connect. If you are anxious about connecting with others (which many of us are) try this loving kindness practice (link to widening circles practice) and include those you wish to connect with in the practice. Set an aspiration to connect with the groups you want to connect with. Then without expectation, with an open heart and curiosity, just see what opportunities present themselves – often these opportunities can be unexpected and much more wonderful than could have been imagined!
At least by doing this loving kindness practice we may connect more authentically with ourselves, which is always a good start.
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