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Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. While mindfulness is an ability we all naturally possess, it is more readily available to us when we practice it on a daily basis.

Mindfulness meditation is a practice based in the use of a focus of attention to train the mind to be aware of its actions as they unfold.  As our mind learns to rest and focus, our mind becomes flexible to meet all mental states with curiosity and patience. Usually what disrupts our ability to meet our experience with equanimity is Shenpa.

Shenpa are the pre-cognitive compulsive patterns which are connected to self-preservation and the fear of the unknown. If not understand and worked with, they lead to us being caught in negative habit patterns which are powered by fear, hatred and confusion. They arise in our being via sensations, reactions and reflexes which we sense as tension, stuckness or being hooked into reactive patterns. The Tibetan buddhist approach of working with them are The Three Difficult Practices. These practices cultivate confidence and innate wisdom so we can feel these patterns, investigate them and then use creative compassion to interrupt their momentum.

The first difficult practice is noticing when you get hooked which is when you get caught in a habitual pattern that causes you to suffer. With practice, you can catch on to it quickly and begin to clearly notice when you are hooked. Further, we learn that getting hooked, in and of itself, is not a problem. It is natural and arises spontaneously in all of us.

The second difficult practice is doing something different or responding differently to the hook than we usually do. This practice is much more difficult to do and goes against the grain of our conditioning and habits. This practice is also referred to as “choosing a fresh alternative.” Through this practice, we begin to explore the wise interruption of the momentum that keeps our suffering alive. In the face of this “being hooked,” we often speak and act in ways that only serve to strengthen our habits of resentment, anger, blaming others, and so forth, habits that just entrench us in patterns which make us more and more unhappy.

The third and final difficult practice is making this exploration a way of life. This practice recognizes that this cultivation will take time and repetition. A singular event in which you notice that you are hooked, choose a fresh alternative, and then it’s all over, will not be enough to alter the reactive conditioning. Instead these patterns will continue to arise in our experience, leaving us with dozens or even hundreds of opportunities each week to notice the various ways in which we get caught in the momentum of our own habitual responses to life’s challenges. As we strengthen in creative compassion and equanimity, the shenpas loose their power and misleading energy.

If understanding how to work with Shenpa (reactive patterns, negative biases and self doubt) interests you, then participate in this course.

This 6 week course is meant to be a doorway into the cultivation of mindfulness for both beginners and for those who have a long-standing relationship with the practice of mindfulness. Five foundational meditations will be explored and expanded upon over the 6 weeks – mindfulness of eating and moving; mindfulness of breathing; mindfulness of the body as a whole; mindfulness of sounds, thoughts, and emotions; and direct awareness.

The 6 weeks will flow through a five part structure to support training your presence, awareness and concentration. The five sequential inter-relating parts are Entering, Sustaining, Deepening, Ripening and Embodying. Each week will explore these aspects of practice through study, experiments (meditations) and discussions. We will experiment in both formal and informal meditation practices. Since the cultivation of mindfulness in one’s life always follows a non-linear trajectory, it only matters that one begins. The rest unfolds as with any adventure, with a degree of mystery and unknowability, as life itself becomes both the practice and the teacher. This course is that beginning step.

Attention: Wear clothing that is easy to move and sit in. If you have a meditation cushion or seat, please bring it to the session.

6 Sunday sessions, January 8th to February 12th, 2023 – 3 – 4:15 pm
Format:  In person or online through Zoom. All participants will have access to both avenues of learning.

Fees: In person and Online –  $112 plus taxes $117.60 regular rate /  $80 plus taxes $84 student/senior rate

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