Hello and welcome to my monthly newsletter.
Well what a summer its been! I have had much to focus my mindful self -compassion practice on. It has been a summer of setbacks and the unpredictable.
Due to the severe and unexpected downfall of rain we experienced at the beginning of August, this day retreat was postponed. However, I am so pleased to say that I am able to run the “Recovering from setbacks” day retreat on August 24 – which -yes is tomorrow!! If you would like to come along and learn about the positive practices of mindfulness and self-compassion and how they can help you overcome setbacks and adversity and have a wonderfully nourishing day retreat – then this is a day not to be missed. This day is taking place instead of the six-weekly gathering August meet.
Resilience is big news at the moment as neuroscience shows that through positive neuroplasticity , we can overcome lifes’ “Big Waves” as Pema Chodrun writes and develop strengths and strategies that not only help you survive the challenges of daily living but enable you to thrive.
I was moved by the recent video that Samye Ling shared this week. Lama Yeshe Rinpoche- the centre’s Abbott and renowned Buddhist monk here in the UK has been in hospital – a health challenge he is overcoming through mindfulness and compassion, and deep gratitude for the healthcare professionals looking after him. In the video he wishes everyone well and offers loving kindness in the midst of his own adversity- he is a remarkable and inspirational human being. I had the privilege of meeting with him personally on Holy Isle last year during a week-long retreat.
I was truly grateful for that opportunity to strengthen my own practice and resilience, as on my return home, as many of you know, I suffered the sudden and unexpected loss of my father before I even had time to share my photos and tell him all about my retreat, which I had been looking forward to doing. This was a major setback and has taken a lot of reflection and adjusting- it is a painful rite of passage that we as humans inevitably have to endure- and it’s not easy!
Rick Hanson, in his excellent book “Resilient” writes:
“mental resources like determination, self-worth, and kindness are what makes us resilient: able to cope with adversity and push through challenges in the pursuit of opportunities…..while resilience helps us to recover from loss and trauma, it offers much more than that.”
(excerpt from Rick Hanson’s book ‘Resilience’ 2018 p.2)
In my view, following the mindful path to self-compassion has brought me to a personal understanding and a way of managing the emotional pain of life’s challenges, it is a view that I am not alone with as research on mindfulness and self- compassion shows how to build enduring strengths and resilience.
Accepting what is – the practice and value of equanimity
Here, acknowledging your emotional or physical pain is important, and this is where mindfulness comes in -described by practitioners and researchers such as John Kabat zin as “Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgement”. Mindfulness creates a space to turn towards our suffering. It helps us to focus on what is causing us pain so that we can meet ourselves with compassion and respond to the suffering with kindness through self-compassion practice. This is an important first step and one that I will be covering in the retreat.
With suffering that brings about strong and often difficult emotions , It is important not to fight it, deny it, hide from it, run from it, or bury it- it will keep coming back and stronger each time until we turn towards it and acknowledge its existence, and the existence of the setback that caused the valid emotional response and be with how it feels. These emotional responses to loss include grief, anger, sorrow, anxiety, exhaustion, fear, overwhelm- the stronger emotions protecting the softer emotions which occur in response to ‘unmet needs’
For more on Resilience you may like to check out Rick Hanson’s recent interview on Growing resilience
Gratitude practice, savouring enjoyable and uplifting experiences, and meditation have all been shown to increase our resilience and help us to manage setbacks – and I will be exploring these important practices in the retreat also.
For me, an important aspect of resilience is ‘forgiveness’ -this was the theme of the retreat I facilitated recently which, was well received. I came across an article recently by Beata Souders on why forgiveness is important , which I think you may find interesting also. I am including the link to my own article which you can find on my website here. Especially interesting is Kristin Neff’s article Here concerning a recent study which underlines the importance of forgiveness that I think you will also find useful. And, here Rick Hanson offers some tips based on the importance of forgiveness
The two ‘emotional resilience’ day retreats offer the opportunity to reflect on these aspects of resilience training and I will be offering these retreats again so don’t worry if you miss them this time around!
Whatever challenges you are facing this month, I wish you well and invite you to consider your own personal strengths wherever the road may take you.
The path to emotional resilience is life-long and often winding but well worth following, so come and join me over the next few months as I show you the way through the mindful self- compassion course, my day retreats, relaxation classes – new dates and venue TBC shortly, a deeply calming silent day retreat in October, and two nurturing Autumn weekend retreats this September and this November.
For information and booking any or all of the above please call / text me on 07753 957371, message me privately via my Facebook page or email me in the first instance.
Wishing you well and happy this summer, wherever your path takes you.