I have been working with Choden and Rob Nairn on a book, which is an experiential journey through the Mindfulness Association’s Insight Training, called Level 3: Seeing Deeply (click here for more information). We expect it to be published some time next year. Rob designed this training, and then others of us on the MA team have developed it over the last five years or so. It is a secular and experiential exploration of the activity that underlies our habitual patterns of thought and behaviour, that I believe is unique to the MA and to the MSc in Mindfulness on which the MA partners with the University of Aberdeen (click here for more information).
However, our experience of teaching Insight tells us that a thorough training in Mindfulness and Compassion, founded on a regular and sustained daily practice are required in order to access the Insight training in an experiential way, rather than just intellectually. The intellect does not get us very far on this path. Embodied practice is key. This is why the Level 1: Being Present and Level 2: Responding with Compassion come before the Level 3: Seeing Deeply training.
In some ways, this is a shame, as it reduces the number of people who come on the Level 3 training, but it is worth persevering with Levels 1 and 2 (particularly as each are beneficial in their own right) as cultivating Insight is incredibly powerful. I might use the analogy of a gardener: Mindfulness practice might be likened to cutting the heads off the weeds, whereas Insight is like pulling the weed out at the root – so that it does not grow back.
I guess I was one of Rob’s first guinea pigs on the Insight training. I have assisted him many times over the years delivering different aspects of the training and have diligently practiced on the cushion and in daily life and can attest to its value. I think that the main benefit is, that even in the most difficult situations, fuelled by anger or pride, desire or jealousy, there is a part of me that can step back and knows that there is a story I have bought into or an expectation or assumption that I have projected onto the experience. I have a sense that, even if I can’t see it now, there is a different wider perspective, that will emerge on reflection. In this way, all difficulty becomes an opportunity for personal growth and there is joy in this sense of workability and hopefully I don’t take myself so seriously.
It is not an easy path and requires us to feel the pain that is at the root of our particular constellation of habitual patterns. However, it is well worth the journey, as I now suffer less and enjoy life more, even though the path appears to extend endlessly before me. One step at a time!
I hope you will join us some day on this Insight journey and move towards freedom from the habitual patterns that cause us to suffer.
Have a watch of Rob Nairn speaking of Thoughts, Thinking and The Moment of Engagement…Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel:
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