Compassion in Action – Love and Loyalty

This week I have been struck again by the love and loyalty that people have for the Mindfulness Association (MA). So many people help us without asking anything in return – compassion in action. I find this love and loyalty touching and sometimes a bit overwhelming. Here at the MA we are trained in giving and receiving kindness and it works.

At our last management meeting Choden, Fay, Kristine and myself were present. We took time to celebrate the fact that we had been working together for such a long time – about eight years. Much has changed in this time, with Fay and Kristine both mothers now and Choden a monk! But we have all been there for each other during this time and it is important to celebrate this – an embodiment of love and loyalty.

When we came to the end of our very first mindfulness course in 2009, Rob Nairn was concerned that the people who had trained were supported, as a community. This reflects the notion of sangha in Buddhism – a community of practitioners supporting each other. Therefore, when we set up the MA we had this in mind, hence our practitioner membership and now teacher membership.

I have always been of the view that anyone who does any training with the MA should be able to turn to us for advice about their practice at any time and we have always been open to and welcomed this. I think if we orient people towards exploring their own minds then we should be on hand when the going gets tough – which it often does!

Getting back to the love and loyalty, in our process of recruitment this last month, we have had a lot of help from our marketing advisor, who volunteered last year to assist us in engaging more people with our work and encouraging them towards taking our courses. She has done an excellent job and I am excited about the opportunities we now have to connect with a wider audience. Thank you Kirsty! We also have a volunteer HR/governance advisor, who did a wonderful job helping us convert to a CIC from being a company limited by guarantee. Thank you Fiona! Then we have our IT advisor, who has been amazing in supporting us in getting our systems in order. Thank you Karen!

Many others came forward to volunteer and I was and have been overwhelmed by their generosity. Why do they do it? I think because they have a deep love and loyalty towards the MA and the work that we do and want to help us to benefit more people.

The response to the job advert to replace Jane, was also overwhelming. There were many applications and I think that a big part of it was that people would like to be a part of the work that we do here at the MA. It was clear at the interviews that people were drawn to be part of our organisation through their love of it and loyalty towards it. How awesome is that!

This is in no small part due to the wonderful work that Jane has done in nurturing and growing the membership. Her character has imbued the membership with kindness, humour and love. Thank you Jane! It is her leaving do today and we will all miss her very much, as a dear friend as well as a colleague. We have journeyed through some ‘interesting’ times together. That said, she will still be part of our tutor team and so will remain an important part of our MA community – how could she not?

At the heart of the MA are Alan and Helen in MAHQ. In MAHQ we are good friends, as well as colleagues and we have fun, as well as working hard. I always look forward to travelling from Scotland down to Manchester, a couple of Tuesdays each month to spend the day with them. You couldn’t ask for a better team to work in – love and loyalty personified! What would I do without them. Thank you Helen and Alan! Over the next few months, there will be two more colleagues in MAHQ and I am looking forward to welcoming them to the heart of the MA.

Another thing that I have noticed is that many of our tutor team have been working with us for a long time – many from the very start. They often comment that their favourite mindfulness teaching work is working for the MA and that always pleases me. Although, it does mean that there is little opportunity for new teachers to join us. However, we do have our intern scheme, where we invite fairly newly trained teachers to teach a couple of courses with an MA tutor as part of their ongoing teacher training. People are generally very happy to do this, to experience being a part of what we do. It is very generous of them to give their time and skills to do this and it benefits our course participants greatly! Thank you interns!

Here at the Mindfulness Association compassion in action is at the heart of all that we do. When we first started our work our patron and abbot of Samye Ling, Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, told us to include kindness and compassion in everything we do. It is at the core of all of our trainings. All our tutors are trained in it. But more than this, they embody compassion and this imbues all of our work and interactions with each other and the outside world.

I make it sound a bit utopian and so I should add that, we don’t always agree. However, our practice generates the wisdom to find a way forward, a compromise that all can live with. A great example of how working together can be – if compassion is at the heart of things – even if I do say so myself! This generates love and loyalty and today I am delighted to be a part of that.

So, if you feel isolated in your practice – come practice with us! We have a free online course to whet your appetite. We have free apps to support your practice. We have a membership, with two weekly online meetings, a dedicated membership website and many other benefits. If you are wanting to be a part of a community of practice – we are here!

Kind Wishes