Last week I was involved in delivering the members retreat, which continued on after the members weekend from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday, along with Jacky and Kristine. I had a very enjoyable week and very much enjoyed Jacky’s Qi Gong based movement practices. Jacky is doing a practice day around movement on 31st May, which I am planning to attend.
On the Monday morning I led a session exploring cultivating resilience in our practice and then later in the day, during one of the practice sessions, I led an exercise based on the ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) bus metaphor. In this exercise, we imagined we were driving a bus in the direction of our aspiration of cultivating resilience. We then explored, through a process of reflection, what obstacles were present that hindered our driving of the bus. We also explored the enablers that helped us to continue to drive the bus onwards, in terms of our personal attributes and our environmental supports. We drew a picture of ourselves driving the bus and then imagined the obstacles and enablers as images, which we then drew onto the bus.
The timing of the session was perfect for me, as I had just experienced quite a significant challenge and was curious about what the exercise would reveal. It was very interesting and revealed some new habitual patterns to me. I noticed how when I am in an altercation with someone, and I feel that I am in the right and have been hard done by, that I have a strong habit of telling tales. Underneath this is a craving to be seen by others to be in the right. I recognised I was caught in this habit and just this recognition undid the reactivity. Then I was able to find a new perspective and some equanimity. In due course this enabled the situation to be resolved.
More importantly, I also recognised how this habitual pattern had made mountains out of mole hills on past occasions. How it had drawn more people into the altercation and caused a lot of unnecessary suffering to myself and to others that were involved. Interesting to me now as I write this, I notice that I experienced this recognition without attributing any blame. The situation just was. Then the difficulty simply undid itself, as the reflection question about obstacles, gave rise to a recognition that I then wrote onto my bus (it was too complicated to form into a simple image that could be drawn). This insight continued to develop after the practice.
This is the power of reflection. If we drop questions into the mind during practice and don’t think about them, then this gives the mind the space to reveal more about its habits. Once these habits are seen, and any resulting feelings allowed, the habits have a tendency to simply undo themselves. Rob Nairn used to quote the Krishnamurti phrase ‘The seeing is the doing’. This means that any arising insight happens by itself and any resulting change happens by itself. All we need to do is to create conducive conditions within the mind and this takes practice.
The great thing about the bus exercise is that we can use it to explore blocks and enablers to any aspiration we would like to cultivate or any value we would like to live by. So, we might imagine driving our bus in the direction of mindfulness, compassion, joy, insight, honesty, diligence, whatever we might want to explore. Also, because we use imagery and drawing it engages our imagination in an especially creative way that can enable us to get in touch with previously hidden layers of the mind’s habitual activity.
I am leading the bus exercise this Thursday (28th) at 7pm at the online teaching, free to all members of the Mindfulness Association to join. Look out for the Zoom link in your weekly digest email. Why not join me, if you can, to explore one your aspirations or values. The session will be also available as a video, afterwards.
I hope to see you then. In the meantime, keep driving those busses!