Out of my window .......
I was going to write about the new courses we are running and our plans for the future but that is not what is alive for me right now. What is alive for me is leaves! There’s this point in an MBSR or MBCT programme when we introduce the extended sitting practice that invites us to become aware of our thoughts and to begin to relate to them in a new way: as 'mental phenomena', as ‘not facts’; as things that we can notice rather than ‘act upon’. And many teachers use metaphors to convey this sense of observing thoughts, one of which is to liken them to ‘leaves in a stream' gently washing down a stream bed; we can watch them, maybe noting their content and energy, and let them go.
This autumn’s leaves are phenomenal, aren't they? Looking absolutely stunning in some contexts. They aren't always so though - they clog up my drains and become dank and slippery on steps. It seems to me that the 'thoughts and leaves' metaphor is really apt. My leaf -thoughts certainly don’t all free-flow gently down the river bed of my mind. And they’re not all beautifully coloured and life-enhancing. Some are darker, slipperier, or hang around, clogging up my mind, slowing me down, and blocking out any weak autumn sunshine around. I know it's not just me - at MPCP, our own personal senses of ‘wear and tear’ and our classes and Top Up sessions leave us in no doubt about the impact of the last couple of years on everyone's body and mind.
This is why we need to keep coming back to solid ground and to our mindfulness practice. To support this, we have just run another Retreat Day in the beautiful setting of Doynton Village Hall. This is just the place, now surrounded by leaves, to find that solid ground and to step away from the urgency and momentum that keeps us from seeing how things really are. We hope that many more of our course ‘graduates’ will take advantage of these amazing Retreat days over the next year. Just think how the new leaves will look in the spring.
Until then – here is recorded guidance of a sound and thoughts practice by Professor Mark Williams. He uses the metaphor of clouds in the sky for thoughts so if you haven’t sat with this practice for a while, maybe now is the time to investigate your leaves (or clouds) again. And I’ll talk about what MPCP is doing in the next blog - coming up soon.