Since we set up the MA, we have been trying to support our course participants in their Mindfulness practice, recognising that only by practicing will we become less neurotic and more able to flourish in our lives. This was our motivation for the membership and I think that particularly the online sits are helping with this.
The other thing we have always been asked is ‘what next’. This has been a particular issue for those who have completed the Insight training or who have completed the first two years of the MSc. We thought we had answered this question when Rob, Vin and I set up the Rob Nairn 5 year insight training. A lovely group of experienced MA practitioners came together for this course, which continued for a year. Then Rob’s health deteriorated so he was not able to come over to the UK to start the second year of the training.
Then Vin and I got together to see what we might be able to offer without Rob, drawing on our experience of the first year of the proposed 5 years of training. One thing was clear: There was a real benefit in sharing weekends together to practice and learn together as a group and to meet up in smaller groups between weekends. Being part of a group motivates us to practice, reminds us that we are not on our own in our journey and provides support when we hit challenges. The group gives us a felt sense of connection and common humanity in our lives and in our practice. One aspect that worked particularly well was smaller groups from the same geographical area meeting between weekends to practice together and have a meal together or smaller groups meeting together online. Vin and I also led online sessions between weekends.
This past weekend I have been giving feedback about the introductory teaching skills assignments on why we teach Mindfulness to groups. Reading these assignments has made the power of practicing in a group even clearer to me. As a tutor of the MA I have the privilege to be part of many practice groups, in particular all of the wonderful groups I work with each year. This supports and motivates me and I see clearly from my teaching practice, time and again, the inspirational courage we show in facing our deepest fears and challenges with acceptance and equanimity and the amazing insights that then emerge and enable us to develop the wisdom to live more skilfully and happily in the world. I also experience the joy, close friendships and laughter that comes from practicing together and sharing our experiences. In my experience friends in Mindfulness offer open, authentic and deep human connection that is rarely found in modern life.
So we hit on the idea of the Mindfulness for Life course. Two weekends a year, this year at the Scarborough Samye Dzong, and an annual 5 day retreat on Holy Isle off Arran. The first weekend in November, led by Vin and Ian, is designed as one of reflection on practice to elucidate those areas of our practice that we would like to focus on for the following year. In this way, we can each develop an annual practice plan to commit to as the group moves together through the year. Then the second weekend in April and the retreat in July will be tailored to meet the common priorities set out in the practice plans. Ian and I are leading the second weekend and I am looking forward to hearing about the different practice priorities and developing with Ian a weekend of training to support them. A novel challenge!
If you are a Mindfulness teacher, the Mindfulness for Life course will meet your CPD requirements for retreat, ongoing Mindfulness practice developments and learning and maintaining connections and sharing with other practitioners and teachers.
If you are at the end of one of our training pathways and wondering what to do next, then I hope that you will join us in this new adventure and help us to craft our new Mindfulness for Life course to meet your ongoing practice support needs.
If you are not yet at the end of one of our training pathways, then know that when you get to the end the MA will provide a ‘what next’ for you.
Our aspiration is that the Mindfulness for Life course will run as long as it is needed and that we can move forward as a group of practitioners, gaining and sharing insights in mindful connection with each other, and getting older and wiser together as we move year by year closer the end of these fortunate lives of ours.
For more details on the Mindfulness for Life course, please see: http://www.mindfulnessassociation.net/ForLife.aspx
By the way I heard last week that Rob’s convalescence is going very well. As many of you know, I plan to visit him at the end of November. Remember if you want to send Rob a message, then please send it in an email to [email protected].