Exploring Stabilizing and Insight Meditation

Venue and time:   Sunday February 26, 2017, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm (Meditation and Discussion), Moksha Yoga, London Ontario, Canada.  Half hour drop-in meditation on Tuesday February 28, 8 – 8:30 pm.

Schedule:  Drop-in Meditation 7:00 pm to 7:30 pm on Sunday February 26.  Break for chat and tea 7:30 – 7:40 pm roughly; 7:40 – 8:30 pm –  Discussion on the topic:  Exploring Stabilizing and Insight Meditation.  Participants are welcome to either or both of these events.  Attendance is free, and donations are accepted.  For insurance requirements you need to sign in at the front desk of Moksha.

We explore two major features of mindfulness meditation:  Stabilizing and Insight.    The goal here is to give a jargon-free  and concise description of these main aspects, in a way that helps us to understand the different uses of meditations that are predominantly stabilizing, or predominantly insight focused, or most commonly mixtures.

Stabilizing Meditation

Stabilizes or anchors the mind, by focusing on some activity often by bringing attention to sensations in the body and breath.  In this way it avoids overthinking, and using body sensations as a focus. Other stabilizing meditations include, repeating mantras, listening to sounds or music, or any repetitive activity that helps us to focus.  We spend so much time in our heads, thinking planning, worrying about the future, or regretting the past. Bringing attention to body, breath, sounds etc helps stabilize us in the present moment.  For this reason meditations that are predominantly stabilizing are usually emphasized for those new to meditation.  Here we take care not to use such confusing (and incorrect) phrases as emptying or calming the mind.  Contrary to the popular idea that meditation is a way of emptying the mind, the mind is never empty, and its always thinking (as verified by brain scans, although often online Guru’s dispute this!).

Insight Meditation

The aim of (mindfulness) insight meditation, is not peace or even happiness.  It is to see the world as it really is, to see it clearly at a deeper level, accepting and whole heartedly embracing it in the present moment.  By-products, are often deeper happiness, based on the reality of the here and now, and not some pollyanna view of the world.  A particular aspect of insight is non-judgmentally observing, not trying to force or change anything, just exploring it as it is.

In reality no meditation is purely stabilizing or purely insight, but a mixture.  Usually meditation (or mind) training focuses initially on stabilizing meditation.  This builds a platform for deeper insight meditation.  There are even ancient arguments among various meditation (Buddhist communities) about which should be given prominence.  Since insight meditation, often more closely deals with thoughts, it is easier to become trapped in what Tara Brach calls the trance of thinking, a kind of addictive doing, or over-thinking, while practising it.  Our mind mistakes insight for trying to solve the problem or issue we are meditating on.

The author thanks Lin Ong for stimulating discussions that led to this post.  However my goal for making this concise has clearly failed! 🙁

Suggested Preparation for the evening

You might consider some meditations you have listened to, and think about which parts of these meditations are predominantly stabilizing and which parts predominantly insight focused.  As an exercise we invite you to construct your own short meditation with a beginning that focuses of stabilizing-focused meditation, a middle that is insight focused, and an ending that is predominantly stabilization focused.  Some of the evening will involve discussion on helping participants build their own meditations.

The London Mindfulness Community (LMC) :   is a community of mindfulness enthusiasts. Our meditations are designed to be accessible to those who drop in occasionally. Those wanting to know more about integrating mindfulness into daily life, can benefit from our Sunday Discussions. These topics are presented in a self-contained way and will be posted on our website (usually by the previous Thursday):

http://londonmindfulnesscommunity.org (and its associated FB page, search London Mindfulness Community on FB).  Attendance at our meditations and events is free (donations are accepted which go towards buy materials for the studio, training and learning resources).

Drop-in Meditation as usual on Tues Feb 21. No Sunday Feb 19 Meeting,

Venue and time:   No meeting on Sunday February 19, 2017.  Drop-in meditation as usual at Moksha Yoga, on Tuesday February 21, 8 – 8:30 pm.  Our usual Sunday Meditation/Discussions will resume on Sunday February 26.  All are welcome.  Attendance is free, and donations are accepted.  For insurance requirements, you need to sign in at the front desk of Moksha.

 

The London Mindfulness Community (LMC) : is a community of mindfulness enthusiasts. Our meditations are designed to be accessible to those who drop in occasionally. Those wanting to know more about integrating mindfulness into daily life, can benefit from our Sunday Discussions. These topics are presented in a self-contained way and will be posted on our website (usually by the previous Thursday):

http://londonmindfulnesscommunity.org (and its associated FB page, search London Mindfulness Community on FB).  Attendance at our meditations and events is free (donations are accepted which go towards buy materials for the studio, training and learning resources).

Letting Go

Venue and time:   Sunday February 12, 2017, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm (Meditation and Discussion), Moksha Yoga, London Ontario, Canada.  Half hour drop-in meditation on Tuesday February 14, 8 – 8:30 pm.

Schedule:  Drop-in Meditation 7:00 pm to 7:30 pm on Sunday February 12.  Break for chat and tea 7:30 – 7:40 pm roughly; 7:40 – 8:30 pm –  Discussion on the topic:  Letting go.   Participants are welcome to either or both of these events.  Attendance is free, and donations are accepted.  For insurance requirements, you need to sign in at the front desk of Moksha.

This Sunday evening, February 12th, we will have an open discussion on the theme of letting go.  We’ll discuss what it means to start letting go of our chronic dissatisfaction, consumerism,  discontent, and desire for more. We will explore how to allow ourselves to just be, and will shed light on the idea of non-striving, as oppose to non-action.   We will explore our attachment to ideas, plans, the past and future, other people, etc., and what the concept of letting go means to you.

This night will feature poetry-inspired guided meditation, and we encourage you to bring your own poems, however short, about letting go (or any other topic!) to share with us.

Suggested Preparation for Sunday’s Discussion:  explore the ways in which you are in over-drive,  perhaps the ideas you are attached to, and reflect on the ways in which you are “filling the gaps” externally instead of looking inward.

The London Mindfulness Community (LMC) : is a community of mindfulness enthusiasts. Our meditations are designed to be accessible to those who drop in occasionally. Those wanting to know more about integrating mindfulness into daily life, can benefit from our Sunday Discussions. These topics are presented in a self-contained way and will be posted on our website (usually by the previous Thursday):

http://londonmindfulnesscommunity.org (and its associated FB page, search London Mindfulness Community on FB).  Attendance at our meditations and events is free (donations are accepted which go towards buy materials for the studio, training and learning resources).

Mindfully embracing or fighting competition?

Venue and time:   Sunday February 5, 2017, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm (Meditation and Discussion), Moksha Yoga, London Ontario, Canada.  Half hour drop-in meditation on Tuesday February 7, 8 – 8:30 pm.

Schedule:  Drop-in Meditation 7:00 pm to 7:30 pm on Sunday February 5.  Break for chat and tea 7:30 – 7:40 pm roughly; 7:40 – 8:30 pm –  Discussion on the topic:  Mindfully embracing or fighting competition?  Participants are welcome to either or both of these events.  Attendance is free, and donations are accepted.  For insurance requirements you need to sign in at the front desk of Moksha.

This Sunday evening, February 5, we resume drop-in Sunday Meditations 7:00 – 7:30, followed by Tea and Discussion.   The meditation will involve a component, in wishing our competition well, whatever that is for you.  Competition in sport, business, life and the natural world is everywhere.  This week’s discussion explores approaches to competition.  A mindful approach to competition, is to embrace the competition with a warm heart, and wish them well.  The opposite approach is to hate or demean the competition, and whip up negative emotion against them.

In mindfulness we wish our competition well:  to be strong and skillful, and happily present in each moment.  We welcome the struggle with them. They are part of us, just as we are part of them. Demeaning your competition ultimately demeans yourself.  Competition is a valuable avenue for children for example, in the form of games, to explore and express themselves and practice with life’s challenges.  To remain focused in the moment, despite setbacks.  It is not winning, but welcoming each moment as it unfolds.

As part of the discussion, we may also explore aspects to enjoying sports and training for sports.  How can mindfulness help there?  For example, games which reach crucial scores, can be useful for meditations that bring us back into the body, rather than being trapped in loops of self-judgement, and over focusing on the score.  In high level sports, at crucial points, the tendency of the mind is to overthink, and diminish our physical performance.  Mindfulness training can help us to be fully present in our bodies, and in the present moment: fully accepting whatever comes our way.  Fail, let’s fail better!

Games can also help us to explore our tendency to try to over control events, and practice acceptance, of whatever will happen, win or lose.  It’s this open attitude that helps us to have high level performance, and not be held back by trying to force what we view the future should be.

Suggested Preparation for Sunday’s Discussion:   We suggest reflecting on competition in your life, both its positive and negative aspects.  Perhaps even playing a sport, and exploring your emotions, physical sensations, and thoughts as you play.  Not trying to change anything, just observing what’s there with warm curiosity.

The London Mindfulness Community (LMC) : is a community of mindfulness enthusiasts. Our meditations are designed to be accessible to those who drop in occasionally. Those wanting to know more about integrating mindfulness into daily life, can benefit from our Sunday Discussions. These topics are presented in a self-contained way and will be posted on our website (usually by the previous Thursday):

http://londonmindfulnesscommunity.org (and its associated FB page, search London Mindfulness Community on FB).  Attendance at our meditations and events is free (donations are accepted which go towards buy materials for the studio, training and learning resources).