“Repetition of simplicity leads to insight.” – David Nichtern
This fall, Your Mindful Coach, in conjunction with the Center For Self-Care is offering four free beginner’s meditation workshops at the Tredyffrin Library in Wayne, Pennsylvania. The series is called “Cultivating The Heart.” The title recognizes the practice of mindfulness and meditation as a process. There is no sudden awakening or enlightenment. Instead, by gently tending the garden of our mind and heart, we set an intention that inclines us toward kindness and compassion. We’d love you to join us. But if you can’t, you can find a recording of the entire session as well as the practices below:
We began our second session with a practice to arrive in the present using our breath, our body and our senses. Our bodies may be present but our minds are often in the past or the future. Filled with thoughts and memories of times past or anticipation over the future. We closed the practice with a beautiful poem from Danna Faulds:
By Danna Faulds
There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel. Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in –
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.
Each week, two meditations are offered, one from the tradition of insight meditation and one from the tradition of mindfulness meditation.
We explored the quality of lovingkindness. In practice, we offer our wishes of kindness to an expanding circle of beings. We start simply, with ourselves and a being for whom our love and care comes easily. We continue with a benefactor, a neighbor, friend or a neutral person, before arriving at a person who may be more difficult, someone who has caused us challenge or suffering. Through this practice, we explore an opening of our heart. This practice is for you. The beings you bring to mind needn’t know you have offered these wishes. It may be that lovingkindness to others doesn’t come easily and in that case, you might offer it to yourself.
Try the Lovingkindness Practice below to get a sense of it. Just like training a puppy, our task is to pause, reset and begin again.
May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you live with ease.
Lovingkindness takes practice. At first you might find it mechanical. Stay with it. It may transition to feeling a bit awkward and then to natural and organic!
One way to support this is through a practice called “Name it to Tame It.” In this practice, we note or name what arises in our mind, whether it be a thought, memory, emotion or felt sensation. It can be as simple as saying, “Thinking, Thinking” and then returning to the anchor of our breath. If you’ve ever been upset and said aloud, “I’m just really frustrated right now!” you may have experienced a feeling of relief.
Author and Doctor Dan Siegel has shared research on the impact of naming our states on settling our mind. In this process, our emotional system, which senses threats for us and warns our body that something is amiss. But when we involve our thinking brain, the prefrontal cortex, we are able to sooth emotions through an integrated connection of neurons and synapses that send messages to our emotional system that the perceived threat is not quite so urgent and doesn’t require a reactive response. It is best to practice this in a quiet, calm space then use this practice to enter the world with an approach of thoughtful responses instead of habitual reactions.
Please join us on Monday, November 27 for our next session, Cultivating the Heart: Joy (free but registration is required). In the meantime, visit me on Tuesday, October 24 for Mindfulness is For You: Tools for Self-Care and Stress Management at the Ludington Library in Bryn Mawr. The even is free but registration is required.
“The practice is not about mastery. It is about trying.” – Ethan Nichtern (David’s son)