I am just home from Spain, more precisely Catalonia, where I have been delivering the MBLC teaching skills retreat. This will be the first group of Spanish graduates from our teacher training program and it is exciting to think of them delivering the program all across Spain. People travelled here from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, Madrid, Barcelona, and the Basque region.
The course was amid beautiful forests in the hills, with stunning views over the Costa Brava coast. It was held in the Tibetan Buddhist monasterio and the monk and nuns here looked after us beautifully, in particular cooking delicious vegan meals. From my room I could hear the nuns laughing: morning, noon and night – so a very happy place!
It was incredible to see the flourishing of the participants’ teaching skills over the course of the retreat and how they each have their own personality and style of teaching. They are going to be such an amazing group of teachers, all of them embodying qualities of warmth and kindness. They took care of each other beautifully over the course of the week, coming together with the common purpose of spreading the benefits of mindfulness to others. What could be better!
I was teaching with my friend Josep, a native Catalan, chef at Samye Ling and excellent mindfulness teacher. He also translated for me – we worked hard and laughed a lot!
I am looking forward to working with this group and Josep again in December, on a weekend focussed on enquiry skills.
Over the course of the week the group led each other through the different sessions of the MBLC course, reflecting on the rationales and teaching points for each session and giving and receiving teaching feedback.
It never ceases to amaze me how the course gradually builds training in technique (being present) and attitude (kindness & curiosity) in an experiential and embodied way, facilitating a growth in self-acceptance, emotional resilience and overall cheerfulness.
I also learned some Spanish and Catalan phrases – very good was ‘muy bien’ (Spanish) and ‘molt be’ (the sound of it is molbe) (Catalan). It was quite easy to follow teachings and conversations about mindfulness, as I am used to doing this in Italy and the languages are quite similar, such as ‘mes profunda’ (deeper) and ‘respiranda’ (breathing in). I quite enjoyed this, as in Italy I often feel I am very bad at languages (my acquisition of new words seeming to have stopped quite a while ago); whereas, here I felt I was picking the language up quite quickly. A preference for success!
Some of those on the retreat found it difficult to recognise memories of when they were kind to themselves, so I set them a daily life practice, which you might like to try.
The practice is to wake up in the morning and think of three things you are going to do that day to be kind to yourself. Then to think about how you are going to remember to do them during your day – perhaps write them down in a note book or put reminders on your phone. Then at the end of the day reflect back on how it went and whether there were any other acts of kindness you did for yourself during the day – acts that contribute to your long term happiness and wellbeing – taking time to notice how it feels to take care of yourself in this way.
Some people think that self kindness is self indulgence, but how can this be so if we are looking after our long term happiness and wellbeing. In my experience, if we are able to do this, then we have the resources and understanding to better care for those around us – so win-win!