Guest BlogsMindfulness Association 4 Year Pathway

The Mindfulness Association takes you on a 4 year journey from being a complete beginner towards experiencing the highest level of Awareness.

The journey starts by coming face to face with the unruly and unsettled nature of our mind that jumps from one experience to another causing us all manner of stress and confusion. We all know what it is like to be tossed and turned by the ups and downs of life, feeling agitated and reactive, whilst lacking a firm anchor of stability within – like a rudderless vessel adrift in the wild and windy sea.

In the Level One: Being Present module of the mindfulness training we teach you how gradually to gain mastery over your attention whilst also learning to accept your changing states of mind and body. It is very empowering when you realise that you can choose the emotions, thought patterns and beliefs you want to nurture within you, and you can craft the life you want to live. There is also a balance between sitting meditation practice and learning how to consciously bring mindfulness into daily life.

The Level Two: Responding with Compassion training builds on the practice of acceptance by offering important skills for learning to face and befriend our inner tormentor, the self-critic, whilst also learning to take care of the vulnerable feelings within that it is trying so hard to protect. This is the birth of self-compassion – learning to become our own best friend – that is so important for so many people. This matures into a genuine, lasting compassion for other people, animals and the environment using the Buddhist model of the 4 Limitless Qualities: loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. This includes the practice of tonglen – taking and sending – which is a powerful method for transforming difficult feelings into the healing energy of compassion.

The Level Three Insight module (Seeing Deeply) builds on the compassion training and goes deeper by uncovering and transforming the powerful habit patterns that rule our lives. Many of these habits operate unseen within us at a subliminal level of mind. A key principle of this module is ‘the seeing is the doing’. When we recognise unhelpful patterns within us, the simple act of seeing them clearly is itself the beginning of becoming free of them. We also learn to tame our strong negative emotions, like anger, craving and jealousy, and uncover the wisdom energy that lies within them. For example, when we face anger instead of being seduced into its destructive stories and projections, we uncover a source of vitality, energy and clarity that cuts to the root of confusion and is a strong ally in navigating life’s ups and downs.

The Level Four wisdom module is the crown jewel of the 4 year training. Here we discover the part of us that was always completely undamaged, free and at peace no matter what traumas or difficulties befell us in our lives. Sometimes this goes by the name of ‘Buddha Nature’ – an inner source of joy and perfection that lies waiting to be discovered within us. When we touch this part of ourselves everything changes. We go about our lives with more lightness and joy and we navigate the difficulties that life throws up with grace and ease. In the wisdom module we work both with imagination practices and deepening insight practices. This stage of the training can bring deep and lasting change but it is very important to do the preliminary modules of mindfulness, compassion and insight. They create the conditions for the flowering of wisdom in our hearts and minds.



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