"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Where Two or Three are Gathered

"To begin a sangha find one friend who would like to join you for sitting practice or walking practice or tea meditation or sharing."
-- Thich Nhat Hanh

"For where there are two or three of you gathered in my name, 
I am there amidst you."
-- Jesus of Nazareth 

As I sit here with the memories of the past few weeks of Mindfulness Circles,  I'm struck with a sense of awe and a feeling of deep gratitude.   

In a peer setting, where none of us claims to be the "Teacher," I've often felt like I've been sitting in a Council of Buddhas.   

Although 73 years of Life and 50 years of Practice usually cause me to season my declarations of Truth with the proverbial grain of salt,  at the moment I'm inclined to proclaim something that seems Quite True to me:

Anyone who makes a commitment to explore their own experience consciously through meditation with a group, and then takes the opportunity to compare notes on their Lives and Practices with the others, will come to understand themselves, one another, and the nature of Reality at a deeper level.   

You Can Feel the Difference

Meditating with other people is different than meditating alone.  Everyone I've talked with in the Mindfulness Circles (and elsewhere) seem to agree.  It feels different to sit in silence with others.  Holding space for one another with an open heart and an open mind, we are held in the embrace of  the space we share.  Being Present, we can feel one another's Presence.  This Presence is the Presence.

It only makes sense. 
No matter what a culture fueled by capitalism proclaims, we are not merely isolated individuals pitted against one another.   

As Alan Watts wrote years ago, we are not "skin encapsulated egos."  We are each unique and different, but we are not separate.  In fact, we intersectEven modern science realizes that.  Not only are we "in this together" -- we ARE this together.  I find that being conversational about this Reality can be quite inspirational!   

It also feels different to give voice to our actual experiences in a setting that is committed to the practice of deep listening and the cultivation of a clear, non-judgmental quality of consciousness.  Through Heart Council Practice, in the Mindfulness Circles we each have the time to speak openly and honestly about our lives as others listen mindfully without judgment or comment.  

As we do in basic sitting practice, the participants in the circle attempt to notice when we are thinking about what a person is saying, to let that go, and then return our attention to listening with our ears and eyes -- and our hearts.  Several times in the past couple of weeks, individuals have expressed their gratitude to the Circle for providing a space where they can be completely open and honest about their lives.  

As one member expressed it, "Here I know I can always be real!"  

The Real Deal

Again and again during the past couple of weeks, various members of the Circle have offered forth, sometimes with tears in their eyes, powerful insights into the heart and mind.  These Truths came forth as simple expressions of their own experience.   
Although I continue to be grateful to the teachings that I continue to pour through (there are always stacks of books on my nightstand, kitchen table, and elsewhere), it was again made obvious to me "The Teachings" are beyond any teacher or set of traditional teachings.  They transcend Buddhism or Christianity or Taoism or any of the traditions that have emerged. They emerge from Life itself.  

IMHO, we all have the on-board equipment to recognize Truth, to Love, to Heal.  That's the Real Deal.

It makes my heart glow.

Click here for a Brief (one page) Mindfulness Circle Facilitation Guide.  Why not start your own?  For more information, feel free to contact me at thishazymoon@gmail.com 


Don Karp said...

Thanks, Lance--

For describing the benefits of meditating in a group.

I was a member of Sirius Community in Shutesbury, MA, from 1990-96. In the beginning, they called themselves a "spiritual community." Every weekly members' meeting began with a meditation. There was a mix of traditions there, and not the type of sharing before and after the meditation, that I find so valuable in your offerings.

At Sirius, it felt to me like a bunch of people sharing silent space, but that each person went off somewhere else, so to speak.

This "spirituality" was even touted as the prime conflict resolution method.

I was told, "When there is a conflict, we meditate on the highest good, and that resolves it."

Given Maslow's hierarchy of needs, where different people have different needs that conflict, where's the highest good, and what's the benefit of meditating? At least these were the questions in my mind.

Lance Smith said...

Hey Don,
I also spent some time at Sirius back in 1991. (Heck, I think that now remember you from there. LOL). Evie Pless helped me sort out the accounting when I was the AD at IMS and we became friends. I also led a weekend retreat and a couple of one day workshops there back in the day. Let's get together (Facebook video?)and have a conversation about our experiences sometime soon.

Jude and Jontz said...

We are both moved (to tears) by this week's sharing! Thanks so much! We will join the circles when we are able!
Much love!! j&j