I am just back from our second Compassion weekend, which is the last weekend of the first year of the University of Aberdeen’s MSc in Mindfulness Studies. The good news is that the MSc has successfully been re-validated by the university and is set to run for many years to come.
We explored the inner self- critic and then the qualities of loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity over the course of the weekend. A highlight of the weekend was a rejoicing practice in which we sat in small groups and gave voice to some of the things in life we really appreciate, as they came to mind, and then dropping into mindful silence between voices. There were many resonances within the groups, with appreciated experience triggering the memory of appreciated experiences for others.
This joyful experience was followed by another: a ceilidh in the Eskdalemuir community hub. The band and caller were wonderful and the community warmly welcomed our group of MSc students and tutors- especially as many of us were willing dancers. An unexpected opportunity for connecting with other and for fun and dancing.
The walk back to Samye Ling offered an additional wonder: a star filled night sky without light pollution. So many stars and nebulae and the cloud of the Milky Way could be clearly seen. Another opportunity for joyful appreciation.
So, it is good to remember to recognise our joyful moments in this world of ours, which is often full of bad news and negative messages from the media. It is easy to focus on all the things we haven’t got and dwell in what Rob Nairn calls poverty mentality. If we notice that we are over focused on the negative, we can make a choice to practice appreciating all of the pleasant experiences we have in our lives, especially the simple ones. A cup of tea, a shared smile, a robin, bird song, the first spring flowers; we can all take time to enjoy these. The key is to remember!
So, I wish you well in your rejoicing practice!