As we come to the anniversary of the first lockdown in the UK, there is much to look back on.
One highlight of the year has been our daily sit, which began at 7pm on Monday 16th March 2020. It has happened every evening since (except those two or three evenings when we tutors forgot to lead it!). I am writing this blog on 16th March 2021 and although we hoped that the daily sit would be helpful, it has far exceeded the hopes that we had, with many of those who attend calling it a ‘lifeline’ at various times over the last year.
After a while we heard from parents who could not make evenings at 7pm because it was bed time and so started a second sit, every weekday at 10.30am.
For me, leading the daily sits has been an absolute delight and often the highlight of my week. The sense of belonging to our co-created community of practice is palpable and supports me in my life, which I live without other humans, but with two dogs for company. There is so much gratitude shown by those who attend these sits, that leading them also fills up my joy levels, an important resource to move me through my days. The link to join the sits is on the homepage of this website.
So we are celebrating the anniversary this Friday, 19th March, with a celebratory morning sit at 10.30am, with a birthday cake and candle to blow out! We are also celebrating that same evening, which is the first session of our twice yearly membership weekend. This is a weekend of practice on the theme of hope, led by the MA tutor team. For more information, please click here (link to members weekend page). If you are a member the timetable (with Zoom links) is on the membership site and will be emailed to you this week.
When I look over the last year of pretty much enforced solitary retreat, I realise that I couldn’t have got through it without a soundtrack. A few days ago I was watching the John Carney film Begin Again (I would recommend it for anyone who loves music). The Mark Ruffalo character comments during the film that even the most mundane experiences in life are transformed when we are listening to music. As I walk up the hill most days, I have music on and it does transform my walk by causing me to smile, walk (or strutt!) along to the beat and appreciate the profound beauty of the world around me – even in the rain! Listening to music, for me adds joy to everything. It adds to the pleasantness of the presentness that mindfulness in daily life brings and gives that little extra incentive to be present for the mundane.
Cheerful, uplifting music, in the major scales, has been particular helpful on those days when I have felt a bit lonely or low. Music has been a support for me through my life, in my teenage years it was a refuge and has always helped me to feel safe. I was thinking the other day about the compassionate imagery practice in which we visualise a safe place. I am not much of a visualiser, although I do have a safe place by the sea. For me what might work better is a safe soundscape, drawn from my playlist. Relying on music in this way has been a habit that has seen me through all the most difficult times in my life.
Recently, I can across another John Carney movie, called ‘Sing Street’, which is about a young man forming a band in Dublin in the 1980s – the years in which I was a teenager. So anyone of a similar age, with a love of 1980s music should enjoy this film. An uplifting story and uplifting songs to get us through these (hopefully) last days of lockdown in the UK.
The more I practice, the more I recognise how I create my own reality by how I think. I find that having a soundtrack to some of my day creates a more joyful reality.
I hope to see you on Friday!
Our Free Daily sits are at 10.30am ( Monday – Friday) and every evening at 7pm head to our website homepage for the link each day.