One week a month we’ll be listening to a series of lectures (‘a course’) by Dr. Muesse. The series is a very good primer for our mindfulness practice – it goes very much from ‘a to z’, introducing why we might take up mindfulness, what it is, how to do it, and it’s implications (ie it pretty much covers the same breadth of information as the classical 8-fold training).
On weeks such as this, we will follow the usual schedule: meditation for 30 minutes, brief Q&A, tea break, and then discussion. The switch is that the first part of the discussion period will be listening to the lecture.
This Sunday is the first lecture – entitled ‘Mindlessness’. The lecture is only 30 minutes long (I think I’ve told a few of you it’s an hour? if so, my mistake!) – we’ll have plenty of time for discussion.
Some questions to consider over the next few days as prep for the session focus on considering how we relate to, or think about our minds:
Is your mind what makes you ‘you’? Is it distinct from your body?
Do you control your mind? Is it possible to control your mind?
Can you think of a situation or two where you were surprised by your reaction, or your mind seemed ‘out of control’? What did you do? What were the results of that situation?
How does your relationship with your mind shape your approach to mindfulness?
This coming Sunday we’re going to kick off a mini-series on the Hindrances. We aren’t going to post it in advance… simply because it isn’t freely available online! They’re nice and short (7-12 min video per hindrance) so we’ll see how things go, might get through 1 & 2 this week!
If you’d like a little primer… Wikipedia as always has some thoughts on the topic.
Also, we’re going to have our summer BBQ in a few weeks (*stay tuned*) please let us know next time you see us if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions or preferences.
By “popular demand” we’ll continue our conversation on anger this coming Sunday. Last week focused on working with our own anger. This week will focus on how to engage with someone else’s anger and how to communicate your own anger – via the follow up talk by Donald Rothberg. I recommend you check out Part 1 from last week if you can!
Recall, you had ‘homework’ from our discussion last week – to try applying the three tools for working with your own anger or irritations this week. I shared my experience last week of working with these tools – I’d like to hear from the group how it goes for all of you.
The talk we listened to on Ethics last week is rich with information we’d like to get to discuss. So we’ll have a repeat performance of Mindfulness and Ethics.
Often it’s not immediately clear how the practice we do on the cushion (“mindfulness meditation” as a technique) relates to the way we live our lives. A complete understanding of mindfulness, however, includes examining ethics and wisdom.
It’s all well and good to learn to develop concentration, and calm abiding…but that’s a RE-active approach to engaging with your life, right? Examining ethics, developing your knowledge about yourself and your world (i.e. wisdom) is the PRO-active approach – it helps you to inform your future actions.
Here is the audio talk that we’ll discuss next Sunday. It’s a dharma talk, which means that it expounds upon some of the deeper wisdom of Buddhist practice. The talk is given by Catherine McGee who is a teacher that I’ve had the privilege of studying with during a couple of retreats. Give it a listen and see what you think. I recommend that you write down any questions and responses that you have while you listen to it.
During the next meeting of our Sunday Sangha, our discussion is going to centre around this talk by Mark Coleman. The talk continues, broadens, and deepens our discussion of the quality and practice of metta (loving-kindness). More specifically, the speaker discusses many of the internal obstacles that come up during the practice and gives some suggestions on how we might handle them with care.
Sometimes the obstacles are described as hindrances, which in the framework of the Buddha’s teachings has a specific meaning. There are five basic hindrances:
Grasping/craving (wanting what is not present)
Hatred/aversion (not wanting what is present)
Restlessness (unbalanced energy in the too much direction)
Sloth/Torpor (unbalanced energy in the too little direction)
Doubt (in yourself or in the teachings or the practice)
As always, what we are trying to do on and off the cushion is not to avoid the hindrances (as that would be another example of Hindrance 1 & 2) but to notice them for what they are and escape/avoid being caught in them.
The speaker’s points, while presented in the context of a metta-focused meditation retreat, are applicable to any meditation practice.
Something that is true for my family is that our elderly and ill members are more likely to die in the winter months – often around the holidays. This is something that is presently happening again for us; someone old and dear to me has had a heart attack and either will or will not survive the next several days.
In this case, she is chronically ill and has been fading from us for several years. This talk offered by Tricycle was particularly appropriate as it discusses one family’s experience with end of life care.
As we approach the ‘new year’ and aspire to new beginnings, I find it is a poignant opportunity to recall that we are all “of the nature to change and grow old”… as Loren Eiseley writes “we are all process, not reality”.