Hello everybody and welcome to this week’s blog. It’s my first blog post for the Mindfulness Association and as I type I can feel the tension between the head and the heart about where to start, and also a vibrant emergent energy that needs channelling if I am to make any sense at all!
I am so deeply happy to have been invited to join the team at the Mindfulness Association and in particular to support Jacky in her sterling work behind the scenes keeping the MA ship afloat, sending forth messages, updates, news and blogs to all; keeping us all connected and up to date with all the latest courses and online meditation supports on offer.
To have the opportunity to work within the team is a privilege and I am feeling excited and enthusiastic about my new role as communications assistant. The sense of community within the Mindfulness Association was one of the many things that attracted me to apply for this position. I used to work within a community arts organisation before I moved to Pembrokeshire and I have missed the camaraderie and support that provided. As a self-employed artist it’s easy to feel quite alone and unsupported at times.
Compassion practices and Tara Brach’s RAIN have helped me so much to accept and acknowledge the confusing feelings of feeling isolated and reclusive; I noticed that instead of allowing myself the space and time to listen to myself and acknowledge my feelings, I just kept myself so busy with work in a way that was unsustainable and mentally unhealthy to avoid facing my feelings. Since I joined the MA as a member in 2014, it has enabled me to feel connected to others on the same path through the weekly sits and blogs, and that’s why I am so happy in my new role, there is harmony between inner connection and outer connection and I feel I can use my skills as a graphic designer to both support and promote the valuable work delivered by the team.
My own journey to mindfulness began as a teenager with an interest in Buddhist literature; actually before that my father had some tiny little books I used to love, “Oriental Wisdom” and “Indian Wisdom” it all sounded so deep and true and I knew I wanted to have some of that wisdom!
1992 my mum introduced me to Buddhist teachings at Samye Ling and I have been a regular visitor since then. In 2014 I signed up for the Mindfulness Association course, Mindfulness and Compassion, partly to give me a formal and methodical support through an emotional storm; the course did just that – the practices have brought a deep and spacious serenity into my life, endowed me with the skills I need to weather all weathers with equanimity. It encouraged me to go further…to where I find myself now, in my second year of the Master’s Degree Course in Mindfulness Studies, run by the University of Aberdeen, where my research is currently looking at how we can use the creative arts as a support for mindful practice and as a path to insight.
I submitted my application for this job during a hectic period where I was trying to finish my Msc assignment essay and so it was a mentally crazy few days and I admit my practice was shelved while I just got on. It’s never good to shelve practice! As soon as I hit submit and the application had gone in I was relieved to get back on my cushion to observe the dust settling and to zoom out to reflect on the situation.
I noticed that I was now in a state of not knowing. I had applied for a job and there could be two outcomes and so I watched my mind vacillate between the two options. Msc Insight practice trains us to rest in the midst of it all, and as I did this I noticed something quite surprising hiding, just below the surface – dhukka – unsatisfactoriness. I watched from a disengaged perspective as my mind whispered “not this” and “not this” to both options!
I have experienced this before when my EPS gives me contradictory messages it wants me to exercise but it can’t be bothered at the same time! This allowed me to rest and let go of clinging to the idea of any future outcome and connect with the alive energy of being in the moment and open to whatever arises and being ok with whatever that might be.
Resting in not knowing unnerves the EPS, taking away its ability to control the situation.
Weekly challenge: not knowing.
This week I invite you to notice situations where you don’t know what’s going on and use that as a support to connect with the subtle thoughts underlying the situation. Not knowing weakens the grip of the EPS taking us closer to our deeper wisdom if we would only get ourselves to the cushion in those times when we most need it.
Each week I’m hoping to share mindful moments with you through mindful imagery, through photographs and perhaps even illustrations