Here we are...

Just off the Port Bow—a place of uncertainty, adventure, and insight. Thank you for your ears, eyes and hearts. I hope to bring compassion, grace and beauty to your day.

Arriving at Meditation

Arriving at Meditation

Going from somewhere to there...and back here

One of my favorite folk groups of the '60s was the New Christy Minstrels. I loved them, in part, because I saw them perform live in Milwaukee in 1965. I also loved them for their fun brand of melodic folk music. A song which particularly enchanted me was called, "Denver." In the first stanza is this line, "...till I got to a place they call Denver, and I ain't never been quite the same." Of course, having Barry Maguire singing that opening verse is wonderful.

In March of 2011 I connected with a therapist in Denver, and I ain't been quite the same since.

The Front Range: Denver

The Front Range: Denver

This next series of posts will trace my journey, a journey which, on reflection, feels a little Hobbity. There and Back Again has been used, so my title is crafted to express more of my experience. As I trace this journey my wish is to present a primer on Mindfulness Meditation as I am learning about it. All I can tell you about is my own experience, and that experience is right now focused on what is known as the Thai Forest tradition (Theravada Buddhism). There are a whole bunch of other meditation traditions, TM, Zen, Reiki,etc. I will not attempt to provide comparisons; I do not have that expertise. I was moved in the direction I have gone through a series of "causes and conditions".

Before I tell you the story let me share the first thing I learned

Lesson One: A New Perspective on Peter

Moving from Peter the thinker to Peter the observer. My first practice was learning how to distinguish between thoughts and myself; to have thoughts without becoming the thoughts. To do this I would sit comfortably, close my eyes, and then watch as thoughts and images flowed through my mind. When a thought arose I would say to myself, "TALK," and when an image arose I would say, "IMAGE." 

Initially I would do this for two minutes, gradually working my way to ten minutes. Once a day this was hard work. This is still hard work for me.

The point of beginning where I did with meditation was the reality that I had been living entirely "in my head" and was helplessly attached to every thought. To label every thought in my mind as TALK was not a judgment on the worth of the thought; simply a depersonalizing of it. It is "just a thought". The same with IMAGE; the mental pictures that enter my mind are just images.

 I still come back to this practice from time to time; a reminder of why I have moved in this direction.

A critical part of this new direction is the idea of approaching every thought (and feeling) with compassionate curiosity. This is the essence of mindfulness, and I will have more to say on that in the  weeks ahead.

One more comment. I use the word practice a lot. It is a multi-purpose word that describes both the content of specific meditation instructions and the reality that any work in meditation is a life-long exercise, a continuous flow of "practice" sessions. The goal, well at least one goal, is to have your life become your practice (the title of a retreat I attended this summer).

View from my therapist's office

View from my therapist's office

Thursday Images - Grasses in the Mist

Thursday Images - Grasses in the Mist

In and Around - Bennington Battlefield and environs

In and Around - Bennington Battlefield and environs