Guest BlogsMindfulness-a-journey-towards-acceptance

Over the last 7 years I have delivered many of our Level 1 Being Present Mindfulness Courses both online and in person at Samye Ling in Dumfriesshire. I calculated that I have shared Mindfulness with over 300 people.

The Level 1 course begins with a standalone introductory weekend at Samye Ling or 4 evening sessions online. Some of the in-person weekends may have a theme such as Mindfulness and Movement, Mindfulness in Nature, Mindfulness and Poetry or Mindfulness and Stress. After the introductory module participants are invited to complete the Level 1 course by attending 3 further modules.  My observation is that often the participants have completed the course before. Second time around they seem to enjoy attending again with their ‘beginners mind’ and a sense of curiosity with an opportunity to spend a weekend or evening just practicing with others.

I have particularly found Mindfulness in Nature very transformative for participants.  At Samye Ling we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the beautiful natural surroundings which is a mindful practice just by its very essence. Research tells us that Mindfulness with Nature is proving to be more beneficial than Mindfulness alone.

The feedback we receive from participants about the course never fails to touch my heart. And every time I hear how Mindfulness has transformed a life in some way, whether it is reducing anxiety and stress, taking a calmer approach to life, or reacting less, it reinforces my joy and commitment to teaching the course.  It also makes me realise, that for me personally, it is the best job in the world, and I feel very fortunate in being able to share Mindfulness through the Level 1 Course.

A very important aspect of the Mindfulness Association Courses is Compassion. The idea of being kind and compassionate towards ourselves is introduced very early on in the course. The definition of Mindfulness that we use on the course comes from Rob Nairn, who was integral to the development of the course. He says “Mindfulness is knowing what is happening while it is happening, whatever it is”.  The more we become mindful the more we notice about ourselves and how we react. It’s a bit like turning up the dimmer switch in a room and suddenly noticing the rubbish swept into the corners.  Therefore, it is quite important for us as part of the training to cultivate an attitude of kindness and acceptance towards ourselves. This takes time of course, but from experience I have noticed that the process of the course is proven and works, and that most participants achieve this in varying degrees by the end of the course.

A typical Mindfulness course has the following practices within it: a body scan, observing the breath and noticing thoughts. We include compassion practices such as self-compassion break, which was developed by Kristin Neff and the Loving Kindness practice. Research conducted by Kok and Singer revealed evidence of the impact of each of these practices individually.


[Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations. Kok, Singer, 2016 p.9]

As you can see each of these practices is likely to lead to a decreased tendency to be distracted by thoughts.  Mindfulness helps us to train the mind to notice thoughts and come back to our present moment experience using sound, breath, movement, or the feel of the body. We also begin to notice that the stream of thoughts we call the undercurrent, can actually affect how we live our lives without us realising. So noticing thoughts is very important part of the process, so we have less tendency to get lost in thoughts and begin to over think. We can also see from the research that the compassion practice of Loving Kindness is a key practice towards increasing positive thoughts and begins to give us a sense of common humanity.  This is a positive breakthrough as once we begin to positively link thoughts of self and other we realise we are not alone in our suffering or problems.

Near the end of the course we introduce the RAIN practice which was made popular by Tara Brach.  So far in the course we have learned to notice what the mind does and where it goes.  We then use techniques to help calm the mind and bring it back to the present moment and notice how we are often on auto pilot. This helps us to regain some control of our minds and cultivate a sense of kindness for ourselves just for being human, and finally reach a point of acceptance.  We use the Rumi poem – The Guesthouse to introduce the practice of RAIN (which stands for Recognise, Allow, Investigate, Non identification). During the practice we notice something difficult such as a thought, emotion or pain and pay it some deep attention so we can understand how it is affecting us and whether we are allowing it to define us in any way. I can remember wearing some of my difficulties in life like a cloak, and notice others doing the same.


This being human is a guesthouse.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honourably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.“


As we find out more about any of these guests which manifest as thoughts and feelings, we can begin the process of learning to accept.  In that comes a sigh of relief that we don’t need to invest so much time and energy and suffering battling with them.

As you can see from the following feedback from various Level 1 Courses, participants talk of transformation and found they were able to reach a place of acceptance.

Feedback on the Mindfulness Level 1 Course:

“I scaled it back to its barest truth and that was purely to accept myself. In this recognition a huge shift took place and acceptance happened automatically, it was so beautifully obvious”.

“I’ve never devoted so much to being mindful and this deepened myself understanding. I began to see through the layers of conditioning and personality which have caused me problems and held me back from peace. On Sunday evening I was literally looking for my previous problems and anxieties and couldn’t see them”.

“Reminder about the importance of living life in the moment and looking after yourself”.

“its transformational”

“The Mindfulness course is a pathway to knowing yourself more. Learning the practices has a calming effect and are a pathway to getting a handle on habitual thinking and a deeper sense of self beyond the mind”.

“It’s a really good introduction to this amazing practice”.

“I love how experiential the course is, and the way in which we are told that we can’t get it wrong etc. I find really helpful”.

“The sessions were relaxed and fun and encouraged you to think about mindfulness in different ways”.

“By the end of the course I was able to incorporate mindfulness practice into my daily routine”.

“It goes deeper into mindfulness practice than using an app and the focus on compassion is beautiful and necessary”.


The journey towards acceptance might feel like a long one, but with practice we can begin to gain an insight into its benefits.

Rob Nairn shares his thoughts on the importance of our progress towards a state of acceptance in this video.

Once a Mindfulness practice is established from the Level 1 course, some people feel so inspired at their insights that they decide they’d like to teach to share the benefits with others.  Others are inspired to deepen their practice with a more in-depth dive into Compassion, and continue the journey, through Insight and Wisdom.

My personal experience is that Mindfulness alone isn’t enough. I need a sustained and continuous journey.  I also find it’s a bit like a game of snakes and ladders. For a while I might feel I am doing well and climb up various ladders only to find I slide back to the beginning on a long slippery snake.  And Mindfulness has taught me that that’s ok too. It’s all part of the magical journey of Mindfulness.

The next opportunity to train in Mindfulness are combined with a nature element at Samye Ling 15-17 September and our new venue – Cascades Gardens 23-24 September. Following that the next Mindfulness course starts online in the evenings on 28th September.

Jacky Seery