Staying Open

2016-11-28-photo-00000064This week I am writing my blog from Cape Town in South Africa. I am here on a short visit to see my meditation teacher and founder of the Mindfulness Association, Rob Nairn. He did not visit Europe this year due to poor health and so I wanted to visit him. We have had a wonderful time catching up with what has been happening in our lives in the last year and reminiscing about past times. He is in good form and is well. By happy coincidence Choden is also here & the three of us spent a lovely day chatting together yesterday.

My brother Mark died in December 2008 – a difficult time – and I determined after that not to waste another minute of my life working as a patent lawyer and took the bold decision to give up my lucrative career, which nicely supported my family, and do something more useful: focus on teaching Mindfulness.

I first taught with Rob & Choden in June 2009 on the retreat of the first Mindfulness course. The MIndfulness Association came into existence in May 2010, followed by the Masters Program with The University of Aberdeen, which started with its first cohort in September of that year. How things have grown and changed.

I am often complimented on all the hard work I do in running the MA and although I have put in many hours over the years – and it has been a team effort – in general it has been a fun and enriching experience from which I have learned and grown. When the work is meaningful and going in the right direction, it almost does itself.

I was reminded about this in an email from an MSc student who recently had opportunities to present lectures to share his passion about considerations of race, culture, difference and diversity in health care. His sense was that this was a consequence of his Mindfulness practice and came out of the blue at the opportune time.

For more information about the Masters in Mindfulness, please click here.

My experience is that if we can be open to all possibilities, then wonderful ones can present themselves. But where we push too much or try to control situations to get a particular outcome we miss opportunities which are outside of our narrowed perspective. Then if things are difficult or don’t go as we might have liked, we can stay open and just keep going.

On Friday, I was driven around the Cape of Good Hope. The seascape was stunning, with2016-11-28-photo-00000065 clear waters, fine white sand with stunning mountain backdrops. Rob has always said that Cape Town is the most beautiful city in the world and he has a point! We saw African Penguins and Whales, plus an impromptu display of fighter jets practicing in formation for a display – all in glorious sunshine.

I was struck by how much the Cape of Good Hope was part of my sense of the seafaring heritage we have in the UK. As with previous trips to South Africa I experience some discomfort about the UK’s colonial history of slavery (although the Dutch colonised the Cape first, before the Brits took over) and apartheid and the ever- present disparity between the generally white South African wealthy and the relative poverty of the black South Africans living in shanty towns a few miles away from the delightful bungalow by a golf course where I am staying in a gated community.

My world is a strange place – often quite surreal and dream like – I often have to pinch myself. Last Friday I was touring the Cape, stunning view after stunning view. Next Friday I will be at Samye Ling Tibetan Centre in Scotland for an MA tutor day, stunning in a different way. I understand how enormously fortunate I am to have such experiences, but also know that at times I can take the experiences in my life for granted.

2016-11-28-photo-00000069Later today Rob, Margaret (my wonderful host and Rob’s sister) are going to a local Mindfulness group and I can’t wait to see what unfolds. I hope Rob will teach, I always learn from him, and I am curious about the connection I will feel with these fellow practitioners from a different part of the planet and with a differing culture.

To hear some of Rob’s excellent talks please visit our website.

One of the very first times I saw Rob teach was in the Mechanics Institute of my home town of Whaley Bridge. I was blown away by his teachings, which have subsequently transformed my life in many and varied wonderful ways. I have a very vivid memory of thinking to myself ‘Wow, that must be the most awesome job in the world’, without ever imagining in my wildest dream that I would ever teach Mindfulness. Look at where the myriad opportunities have brought me!

So stay open, even through difficult times, and who knows where life will lead you.

-Heather Regan Addis

To visit our website, please click here

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