I’ve been participating in Mindful in May, a transformative one month online mindfulness program which brings together the world’s best meditation teachers, wellbeing experts and neuroscientists to teach you the tools to transform your mind towards greater well
My initial post provided a brief background as to where my interest in ‘Mindfulness’ came from and also advised that I was planning to publish a wrap up post after each week of the program to share my learnings/little gold nugget takeaways. So far I’ve posted my wrap ups for Mindful in May – Week 1, Mindful in May – Week 2, Mindful in May – Week 3, and Mindful in May – Week 4.
This is the final post for Mindful in May and whilst I’m feeling a bit relieved about that because it’s been quite time-consuming and also I’m about to get very busy with preparations for a big kitchen reno (think packing up kitchen, demolition of kitchen, new install to happen, makeshift kitchen etc), I’m also feeling sad. I’ve really enjoyed the meditations and all the interviews have been fascinating. I’ve loved being introduced to all these new people, experts in their field with so much wisdom, and I’ve learnt so much. When I get time, I will visit all contributor’s webpages and learn more about them and most likely purchase some of their books that have captured my interest! In the meantime, here is a wrap up of the final few days (Week 5) of Mindful May.
ONE: Interview with Mark Nepo – ‘Wisdom from a poet on a well lived life’
Mark Nepo moved and inspired readers and seekers all over the world with his #1 New York Times bestseller, ‘The Book of Awakening’. Beloved as a poet, teacher, and storyteller, Mark has been called “one of the finest spiritual guides of our time,” “a consummate storyteller,” and “an eloquent spiritual teacher.” His work is widely accessible and used by many and his books have been translated into more than twenty languages. A bestselling author, he has published eighteen books and recorded thirteen audio projects. In 2015, he was given a Life-Achievement Award by AgeNation. And in 2016, he was named by Watkins: Mind Body Spirit as one of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People, and was also chosen as one of OWN’s SuperSoul 100, a group of inspired leaders using their gifts and voices to elevate humanity. Recent work includes The One Life We’re Given (Atria, 2016), Inside the Miracle (Sounds True), selected by Spirituality & Health Magazine as one of the top ten best books of 2015, The Endless Practice (Atria).
This is the last interview for Mindful in May. I found Mark Nepo incredibly intelligent and interesting. There was a lot covered in this interview. I’ve left a lot of my notes out but still included quite a bit considering its the one and only interview for this week.
My wrap up of the interview:
- Mark’s latest book is called ‘The One Life You’re Given’.
- Quote from latest book “Half of the soul’s work is to BE. The other half is to be of use. It’s in our nature to try with all our heart any anything and everything until we chance to inhabit grace and come alive. In being so alive we become a conduit for life and a resource for others.”
- BEING and DOING. How do we balance our need to survive and thrive? Surviving tends to really be how we meet the outer world. How we navigate the weather of circumstance. But if all we do is survive and never thrive, what’s the point? We also can’t just thrive without surviving or we want we won’t be here to thrive! There’s such an over emphasis on DOING which s why we talk about doing a lot but again, we need a balance of both.
- The reward for rooting ourselves in BEING is that we get more engaged in life, not less.
- BEING, like a tree, as it roots it also sprouts. As we go deeper into our BEING we grow more in equal measure into the world. Then when our heart is awake, our challenge is to stay awake and to be of use and to be kind.
- When we get too caught up in DOING then we start to see each other as different and we start to fear each other.
- There are two human tribes – GO AWAY tribe; and COME TEACH ME tribe.
- Quote from latest book: “Life is a journey from NO to YES. The classroom appears whenever we dare to imagine life as a transformative question that we somehow awaken into together”.
- Our great gifts, our greatness, lies with working with what we’re given and putting what we want as kindling on the fire of our aliveness.
- Paradox: “We’re challenged to have the courage to ask for what we need, only to practice accepting what we’re given”. This is our journey on earth. We rarely get all that we want or need so what’s the reward for having the courage to ask? The reward is that we become intimate with our own nature. It allows us to know who we are thoroughly. The reward for practicing accepting what we’re given is that we become intimate with the nature of the universe, of life. In saying yes to life, is this dance between the intimacy of our own nature and the intimacy of life. It requires sometimes saying no to others, setting boundaries, and requires sometimes staying open beyond our disappointments, through our losses, and working with what we’re given.
- Keep going with will vs when to surrender. When a fish is swimming in a river, it swims and when it catches the current, the current carries it. Now you can’t tell how much is the strength of the fish swimming or the current carrying it. It’s all one. So, the proper use of will is to catch the current.
- DISCIPLINE – when starting out was ‘can I be focussed and single-minded enough to persevere through distraction to accomplish whatever it is I’m working on?’ It’s helpful and valuable but it’s led over the years to a deeper form of discipline which is ‘when I fall out of the current, find my way back to the current’. It’s actually the discipline to be aware and recognise when you’re out of the flow or out of the current and actually be disciplined to stop rather than that addiction to ‘just wanting to get this done’ but it’s happening from a place of ‘not flow’.
- As humans there is a very deep need we have to feel a sense of purpose. Elise asked Mark what his thoughts and advice might be to people who may be distressed by a lack of clarity around their purpose.
- The soul only wants to be as alive as possible. It’s like a fire. It doesn’t care what you put in it. It just wants your all. Your thorough, holding nothing back, giving everything attention, and so all of our dreams and our goals and our ambitions are kindling on the fire of the hearts aliveness.
- Metaphor: We all know that an unlit wooden match with its phosphorous tip – the flame is dormant. We don’t see or feel that flame until that match strikes against a surface. That’s a metaphor for every soul on earth. Our light is dormant until our gifts strike against the needs of the world. Then our light and our warmth become possible, become visible, and so its through our interaction, our relationship with life, that the wisdom that waits in our heart comes out through the one life we’re given to live.
- Our career is the souls awaking. Where that happens is our occupation. That can change too, because we’re changing but it’s always about being awake and staying awake.
- From one of Mark’s poems – “Those who wake are the students. Those who stay awake are the teachers. How we take turns.”
- We are by nature impatient beings and part of our deeper challenge is that under that, in our depth, we are very patient. With regards to balancing BEING and DOING, a lot of our DOING comes from our surface impatience but our BEING comes from our deeper patience. So we’re challenge when we feel urgency or confusion. We’re challenged to wait, and listen, because often we move away before we can hear the universe speak to us. We move so quickly. Things that matter take time to reveal themselves. We all suffer from a myth of urgency. If we’re bleeding or can’t breathe, then there is urgency. Everything else might be important, but nothing else is urgent.
- “If you can’t see what you’re looking for, see what’s there. It’s enough.”
- The menacing assumption that we all fall prey to is that life is other than where we are.
TWO: A guest meditation by Petrea King – ‘Coming to your senses’ – [8 mins, 54 secs]
You can see a bio on Petrea King by clicking on her name above.
We become aware of this moment by simply connecting with the senses of our body – eg noticing our posture, where our body makes contact with whatever is supporting it, being aware of areas of tightness or tension in the body, feel the touch of our clothing against our skin, noticing the clothing moving against our skin as we breathe, notice any aroma in the air, etc. It was a lovely meditation!
TONIGHT AT 8:30 EST Elise hosted a live online guided meditation where the global community could connect in real-time. There was a recording made available the following day for those unable to make the live event.
I was unable to participate on the night, but listened to the audio recording a few days later. I’m so glad I did too. It was lovely! I lay on my bed, ear buds in my ears, eyes closed, and got myself very comfortable. The meditation was wonderful and was followed by hearing from some of the 600+ people (worldwide) who were live on the call. They shared how the experience was for them and it was all very positive. You could hear the delight and emotion in Elise’s voice as Mindful in May concludes for another year. In fact, she kept finding new things to talk about in order to delay the end. It was funny and got me feeling a bit emotional too! Oops is that something in my eye?!
The audio recording of the live event last night was provided today, and there is a video message from Elise congratulating us on completing Mindful in May.
Elise reminds us of a story she shared during the live feed last night which highlights one of the significant benefits of mindfulness:
One evening, an elderly Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle inside us all is between two wolves.
One wolf is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, and ego.
The other wolf is good. It is joy, peace, love, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, and compassion.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, ‘Grandpa, which wolf wins?’
The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one that you feed.’
So Mindful in May is over and I do feel sad. I would have liked to be able to sign up with the Mind Life Project which is offered to MiMsters for 6 months ongoing support and learning, but with the kitchen reno chaos about to happen here (and more) it’s just not a good time. I would definitely do Mindful in May again. I wouldn’t put the pressure on myself to document it all again as I did this year though. Perhaps I’d share some goodies here and there but no weekly posts like this time. It would be less overwhelming then I think. Here’s a few reflections I have from the month, but I think that given a little more time to digest and process, I would have much more.
- I never realised that ‘Loving Kindness’ and ‘Self Compassion’ were such a big part of Mindfulness, or how important they were to the practice. I know better now, and it will make a huge difference to how I will practice it.
- After a month of meditating daily and watching interviews with experts in the field, I feel that my self-awareness has improved drastically. I’m watching myself more – my thoughts, my moods, my emotions, my reactions – and I have tools to help manage them better now.
- Though I didn’t pick it as a favourite for Week 2 (see dot point below), I found the interview on Day 10 with Michael Merzenich fascinating and very inspiring and hopeful for the management of our minds. It also made me realise that neuroscience is absolutely fascinating! I never thought I’d say that!
- My favourite interview. I enjoyed most of the interviews so it’s hard to pick a favourite. For that reason, I’ll choose a favourite from each week. Week 1: Day 5 – the interview with Richard Chambers. Week 2: Day 13 – the interview with Chris Germer. Week 3: Day 15 – the interview with Parker Palmer. Week 4: Day 24 – the interview with Shauna Shapiro. Week 5: there’s only the one interview with Mark Nepo.
- My favourite meditation. I loved most of the meditation’s but the one that comes to mind first is the Loving Kindness Meditation in Week 3, Day 17 with Kate James. It made me cry, but I felt love and kindness and comfort throughout every cell of my body with that meditation.
- Am I now a committed and expert daily meditator? I love how I feel during and after I meditate and I have meditated almost every day for over a month now, but no – I need to find the right time of day for me to meditate so that it becomes habit – just like brushing my teeth. I also have concerns around meditating on my own. I am used to a guided meditation. I will probably mostly continue with guided meditations but will sometimes try doing it on my own.
- Do I feel a difference after meditating daily for a month? Yes – I feel a bit calmer and self-aware. I also feel that I have a better understanding now about what meditation is, how it’s done, and why it’s such a useful practice in our lives.
- Would I do Mindful in May again? Yes! Next time I would not put as much pressure on myself though.
Ciao for now,
Link up here at WOTM or with another of us in the Lovin’ Life Linky team:
Leanne of Deep Fried Fruit | Kathy of 50 Shades of Age |
Deborah of Debbish | Jo of The Hungry Writer – Joanne Tracey.
It doesn’t matter where you link up as it will magically appear on all five blogs.