I am excited that we now have confirmation for our 10th anniversary celebration of the Mindfulness Association. Ten years seems like a long time but seems to have passed in an instant.
I vividly remember my first retreat teaching with Rob Nairn and Choden on Holy Isle in June 2009. For me this was a big pinch myself moment – was I really here – how did this happen?
There have been many other pinch myself moments along the way. When the company was set up in May 2010. When the first website launched. The first time I taught in the back of the temple at Samye Ling, which was where we taught our first courses. The first weekend with the first cohort of the MSc students – it actually happened and now we are working with our 10th cohort of students. Our conferences. Teaching with Rob in Venice – there is now a franchise in Venice. Those moments at the end of a course when participants share their inspiring learnings and aspirations. How did I get to have these experiences? As I sit here I shake my head in wonder – is it possible?
We have trained thousands of people in compassion based mindfulness. We have trained hundreds of teachers and they have trained thousands more people in compassion based mindfulness. We have written two books and are just starting a third (on Compassion Based Living). We have successful franchises in Italy, Poland, Croatia, Belgium and Ireland spreading this work there. How did this happen?
To celebrate this Helen and Lana (who videos the conferences) came up with the idea of making a documentary about the journey. Lana is an excellent documentary maker and has interviewed all involved for their accounts of the journey over the last ten years. I am excited to see the results. But again, I have to pinch myself – a documentary about the Mindfulness Association?
My motivation for my work is to relieve the needless suffering of life.
The suffering is needless because it is optional. There is the inevitable pain and difficulty in life, but as Rob Nairn has always said this is just 10% of the suffering. The 90% is an elaboration due to our thinking about the pain and difficulty and identifying with it as ‘my pain’ and ‘my difficulty’. Then there is the extra 100% we add on top as we blame and criticise ourselves about the pain, difficulty and suffering. The 90% and the extra 100% are optional if we train our minds in compassion based mindfulness and insight. I know this from my own experience – although I often don’t succeed in avoiding the whole 90% or even the extra 100% – as my practice develops the percentage is dropping and I suffer less.
This is why I am so passionate about practice and also about teaching others to share compassion based mindfulness. Over and over again I see that it works, for myself and for those around me. All the time I hear about how our course participants’ lives have been transformed by practice, often in the face of the most difficult pain and difficulty that life throws at us.
The challenge for me is to keep this motivation firmly in view in the face of the demands of working within an organisation that needs to make money to remain sustainable. There is a drive to market and sell courses and sometimes my motivation can be overwhelmed. It is not easy.
I am passionate about making the world a better place. I want to challenge myself and all of you to see how our compassion training can be a basis for compassionate action and greater inclusion. There is good scientific evidence that we can meet this challenge in this excellent book.
Thankfully, I am not on my own in this within the MA, because Kristine in particular is championing the cause of making the world a better place, in particular with the Engaged Mindfulness approach she and Fay are developing.
Hence our membership event next year – 10th Anniversary Weekend and Retreat for Mindfulness Association Members – A Vision for Making our World a Better Place. I hope to see you there!