Hi There, welcome back to my Mindful Futures blog!
Over the weekend I took part in my first ever mindfulness course, the level one being present.
I really enjoyed myself, admittedly more than I was expecting to. I think my dog also quite enjoyed it, she spent the first day sat by my side snoozing and being all round just very cute! Often I am at a desk or out of the house working in the day so what I think she was enjoying was getting to spend the full day hanging out with me, and I really enjoyed that too.
The course itself is so well taught and structured and the participants are really nice! The first day I found that part of the teaching encourages you to share your experiences. I’ve never been the type of person who finds it particularly easy to talk about my feelings or anything personal, especially to a group of strangers I hadn’t met before. So for the first day I really wasn’t enjoying this expectation of me. By the second day of the weekend I’d firstly gotten much more comfortable with the other participants, surprisingly fast actually, and found ways to share my experiences without feeling uncomfortable. What I think is behind this is an idea of control again and learning to loosen your own grip on that, which is what I am also doing now writing this. This was a really interesting experience for me and in fact I had a few unexpected experiences and insights over the weekend.
I really enjoyed the body scans, and I had done these before but used them to help me sleep. The experience of connecting with your body that the body scan gives you is really amazing, noticing how we aren’t just floating brains we are whole bodies connected all together. It got me thinking about how prehistoric people understood the self, the idea of the individual that we experience the world through today is actually quite a modern concept. It is unlikely that prehistoric people had individuality quite so engrained into them as their lives were inherently more focussed on the collective. Additionally I’m not sure what prehistoric people knew of the anatomy and of the brain, and I think much of the reason today, when we think of the self we feel it in our head rather than our full body, comes from what we understand of the brain and its functions. Without having this knowledge of the brain then perhaps our ancient ancestors experienced themselves as their full body, not just a brain running a body.
Finally another experience that really stood out to me over the weekend was the kindness practice, something I think everyone should have a go at especially when you’re having a bad day. What you do here is essentially recall memories of kindness from others, towards others and towards yourself. It seemed that we all as a group struggled most with remembering times when we had been kind to ourselves, which given the context of our current society is hardly surprising. I found personally when thinking of moments I had been kind to myself much of what I could recall was based on my appearance, looking in a mirror and thinking I look nice etcetera. Which is great, but there are definitely more things I can compliment myself on and be kind to myself about which are more than appearance based. The best part of the kindness practice and I think this went for most people was remembering when others had been kind to you. Thinking about this I left the practice with a huge amount of gratitude, particularly for my partner who is always doing acts of kindness. In turn this gratitude inspired me to do something kind for her, which came in the form of cooking her favourite dinner. This exercise I found really enjoyable and grounding.
Until next time,
You can listen to the blog by clicking the play button below.
Our next Mindfulness Level One Weekend (Buddhist Roots of Mindfulness) is coming up on the 22-24 October with Choden and Kristine Mackenzie-Janson. This weekend is an ‘alternative first weekend which you can attend as a kind of taster session – you can then choose to continue if you wish. This weekend can also be attended as a stand alone retreat weekend, looking at the Buddhist foundations of Mindfulness.
Browse our other upcoming courses HERE