Learning MBSR: sixth evening of the course - making time for reflection, and the overlap between mindfulness & conscientiousness
Last updated on 25th November 2011
I wrote yesterday on "Mindfulness: the missing facet 'describe', and meeting at relational depth with self & others - theory" . Today I'd like to take this into a practical example.
God guard me from those thoughts men think in the mind alone; he that sings a lasting song thinks in a marrow bone. William Butler Yeats
Yesterday evening was the fifth session of the MBSR course that I'm attending. I'd missed the fourth session because of my wife's birthday, but I did jot down some thoughts last week in the blog post "Learning MBSR: ... body scan, Damasio on identity, and informal practice". There were seven of us attending tonight's session, so two were missing. We began with a straight 45 minute sitting meditation - slightly "marines" when my usual practice is 20 minutes. The experience of "swimming out" into a longer group practice echoes back for me to a series of meditation retreats I went to in my 20's. Memories, not so much visual or verbal, more a sense in my body of poignancy, happiness, strength, youthfulness, openness. Strange.
I wrote last week about the third evening of this eight session MBSR course. The fourth session was yesterday evening and I missed it. It was my wife's birthday and I'd told the course teacher when I enrolled that I wouldn't get to this fourth meeting ... or to the seventh meeting when I'll also be away. It's not ideal. My practice has been poorer this last week, both because I've been particularly busy and also because I haven't been back to get the weekly commitment boost that tends to come from attending the class. I've still practised mindfulness meditations every day, but it's felt more like a routine to be squeezed in than a particularly rich exploration over these last several days.
Well last night was the third session of this MBSR course. I wrote last week about the second evening and also about mindfulness during daily activities. We packed a lot into this session - there were four practical meditation exercises involving attending to sounds, breath & body awareness, mindfulness during movement & a brief breathing space. We also had quite extensive group discussions of our experience during each of these practices, a pair exercise to discuss our "homework" last week (it felt helpful to me that this was a bit longer than last session's pair discussion) and more general "homework" exploration in the group.
I wrote a blog post a few days ago entitled "Mindfulness: teaching & learning". I talked about my decision to participate in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, saying "Why participate in a MBSR course? Basically because I think it would be rather interesting! There's a real groundswell of energy for mindfulness based approaches at the moment. Some of it is "faddy" and will ebb away over time. Some of the energy though is helping us understand much more about mindfulness and how it can best be used in helping us live with less suffering and more joy. So what are my "learning objectives" for the MBSR course?