Training with perseverence

We all well know, as the contemporary Tibetan master Jogme Khyentse Rinpoche reminds us, that ” we don’t need to train our minds to improve our ability to get upset or jealous. We don’t need an anger accelerator or a pride amplifier”. By contrast, training the mind is crucial if we want to refine and sharpen our attention, develop emotional balance, inner peace and wisdom, and cultivate dedication to the welfare of others. We have within ourselves the potential to develop these qualities, bit they will not develop by themselves or just because we want them to. They require training. And all training requires perseverance and enthusiasm. We won’t learn to ski by practising one or two moments a month.

Matthieu Ricard, The Art of Meditation

Upcoming Events Summer months

The extra time we can have in the summer months gives us an  opportunity to deepen our Mindfulness practice. It is a good idea to consider doing a short retreat or workshop to help you apply the ideas and practice more fully to your everyday life. Although we do not have too many possibilities as English speakers in this part of the world,  there are a number of  events occuring this Summer which you may like to consider.

As I have mentioned before, we are extremely fortunate that James Baraz, one of the best-known meditation teachers in the U.S., is coming to give his Awakening Joy Workshop over 4 days from August 4 – 7.  This excellent interactive  workshop is a gentle way to deepen your practice as it is not as intensive as some of the other possibilities which are usually run in complete silence. It will be held in the lovely setting of the Kientalerhof Centre in the Bernese Oberland. You can download the flyer here: Awakening Joy Flyer 8 April upload

It is always good to keep an eye on the website for the Meditation Centre in Beatenberg. I see there are still places available for the 8 day  Vipassana  (Insight) meditation retreat, starting on August 13th.  However, this is only open to meditators who have already some experience in silent retreats.

A bit further afield, some people who have completed the MBSR Course in Geneva have attended retreats in Gaia house in England. You can find a link to their website on the right hand side of this page. They offer a number of weekend or longer weekday retreats, all in silence. For example, there is a short  retreat entitled “Living With Illness” from Monday 22nd August to Wednesday 24th August, which may be of interest to those dealing with illness or working with those close to death.

I will post more details of other possibilities as they come to my notice.

First Steps in Mindfulness Day 9: Noticing thoughts as thoughts

“This is boring” or “This is not working”, or “I can’t do this”.

These are judgments. Actually they are just thoughts.

It is important to recognize them as judgmental thinking and remind yourself that the practice involves suspending judgment and just watching whatever comes up, without pursuing them or acting in any way

Jon Kabat Zinn

Supporting your practice: Events coming up in May

Just some information about some events coming up in May which you may be interested in and which may support your practice.

The last MBSR group I led will have its All Day Session on May 21st. All are welcome to join with them. It will be, as always, in silence, and will include two longer sessions of yoga in the Kripalu tradition.

Patrick, whom many of you know from the Tai Chi Sessions he has done with us, is running a 4 week introduction to Tai Chi starting Thursday May 12 which will build in skills and practice from week to week.  He would run it in his Centre on rue Montbrilliant behind Cornavin each Thursday from 12.15 to 1.30. If any of you are interested please contact Patrick directly at yakushido@gmail.com.

Finally, there is a weekend in French led by the Monks of Plum Village (in the lineage of Thich Nhat Hahn) on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th of May at the Maison de Vessy. You can look at the details here: Week-end PC 28-29 mai 2011

A key practice for happiness: Cultivate thankfulness today

Gratitude is the sweetest of all the practices for daily life and the most easily cultivated, requiring the least sacrifice for what is gained in return.  It is a very powerful form of mindfulness practice, particularly for those  who have depressive or self-defeating feelings, and those with a reactive personality who habitually notice everything that’s wrong in a situation.

Practicing mindfulness of gratitude consistently leads to a direct experience of being connected to life and the realization that there is a larger context in which your personal story is unfolding. Cultivating thankfulness for being part of life blossoms into a feeling of being blessed, not in the sense of winning the lottery, but in a more refined appreciation for the interdependent nature of life. It also elicits feelings of generosity, which create further joy. Gratitude can soften a heart that has become too guarded, and it builds the capacity for forgiveness, which creates the clarity of mind that is ideal for spiritual development.

Phillip Moffitt, Selfless Gratitude

How to work with thoughts and emotions in meditation

Whatever thoughts and emotions arise in meditation, allow them to rise and settle, like the waves in the ocean. Whatever you find yourself thinking, let that thought rise and settle, without any constraint. Don’t grasp at it, feed it or indulge it, don’t cling to it, don’t try to solidify it. Neither follow thoughts nor invite them; be like the ocean looking down at its own waves, or the sky gazing down on the clouds that pass across it.

You will soon find that thoughts are like the wind; they come and go. The secret is not to “think” about the thoughts but to allow them to flow through your mind, while keeping your mind free of afterthoughts.

Sogyal Rinpoche