So what have I done over the last 6 months? I have been working in my private counselling practice and running groups in schools and aged care facilities but taking it a bit slower than usual. My mindfulness practice is most useful when it takes my circumstances into account. So, I've used my non-teaching time to revitalise my practice in a fresh and exploratory way.
I shifted my daily mindfulness practice to the wee hours of the morning and allowed myself to go to bed very early on cold winter nights. I'm an early riser, so this has felt luxurious. While not teaching, I've been able to rediscover mindfulness practice as a joy rather than as responsibility I have as an accountable teacher.
I've allowed myself to practice in ways that have acknowledged my tiredness. I began with weeks of lying down practices and lots of body scans. I generally don't have a problem with concentration but can get over-focused in life. To balance this, I introduced focusing on a sense of space in the body, as well as a focus on a primary object of attention such as sensations.
I then moved to variations of open awareness practices. Here there is less focussing on a specific object of attention and more of a being aware of whatever is arising in the field of experience. I've heard a Tibetan teacher call this "not meditating, not distracted" …just letting awareness be. Doing the open-awareness practice was a perfect antidote to the pressure I felt with my mums illness. It reminded me to "rest in each moment".
As I found my relaxed rhythm with meditation, I notice its benefits once again permeating into my life. I smile more, am more fun to be with and have more fun, and am less emotionally reactive in surprising situations.
While teaching less, I have been filling my cup by being a student. In my life as a therapist, I have plunged into the world of IFS -Internal Family Systems and discovered mindfulness teachers that are integrating this work with mindfulness practices. I've been immersing myself in the world of mindfulness podcasts and finding ones that I love. I have been invigorated by being a student again, and my next blog post will introduce you to some of these podcasts.
And now I am genuinely ready to begin teaching again. So if you'd like to revitalise your mindfulness practice or know others who might appreciate the opportunity to slow down and immerse themselves in the 8-week MBSR course do book in or pass this information along.
The next HeadRest Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course begins Tuesday, October 29 in Marrickville. I'd love to see you there. The early bird discount ends on Tuesday, October 1, and there is a $100 discount for doing the course a second time.