This past weekend, I attended the last Samye Ling MSc weekend for my cohort. We will come together for a week long retreat on Holy Isle, but all of our Samye Ling weekends are finished. Therefore, it is no surprise that a cloud of leave- taking loomed above us.
On top of this fact, there was a shift in the delivery of our weekend teachings. Our teachings were refocused from lessons on embodying the practices, to lectures on research methodologies. Needless to say, there was a lot of noticing. In particular, there was a lot of noticing a felt sense of resistance, alongside of excitement.
The highlight of our weekend, by far, was a visit from Lama Yeshe Rinpoche. For many of us, this was the first time to hear Lama Yeshe Rinpoche speak, and it came just at the right time. As secular mindfulness practitioners, we had a lot of questions for Lama Yeshe Rinpoche; such as, how can we find the means to deliver these teachings to the public, and how can find our place within a fast moving, materialistic Europe as mindfulness teachers.
His message was clear and thought provoking. Rather than getting caught up in striving to find an audience, thus perpetuating the competitive rise- to- the- top nature of society, let people come to you. And according to Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, they will. With the advent of a fast developing, technologically focused world, people are becoming more and more unhappy and overwhelmed. They will seek out an anecdote to their suffering. This anecdote is mindfulness and compassion.
He also spoke about the dissatisfaction with one’s lot that is prevalent today. He related this discontent, once again, to the competitive nature that exists within our Western society. What is his solution? Gratitude. By changing one’s perspective to gratitude, it is quite easy to see that we have more than we need. So, feeling disgruntled about having to spend 6 hours in the office today? Be grateful that you have work, when many have none. Feeling frustrated that you have to cook the dinner after a long drive home? Be happy that there is food on your table. It is these small reminders that can attune our attitudes and highlight everything that we do have. There is always something to be thankful for.
As I was getting my shoes on to leave, at the end of the weekend, one of my colleagues whispered in my ear ‘I was so happy to hear that we need to relax and allow our teaching opportunities to come to us. I was feeling the pressure’.
To this, I smiled. The pressure to succeed as a mindfulness teachers is definitely an anxiety along the road of trials. However, at least we are all on the road, and at least we are all on it together. For this I am thankful.