Mindful Movement Course at Samye Ling, Dumfriesshire
I've always felt uncomfortable around religious places. Concerned I do the wrong thing, make too much noise, speak to someone when they are meditating ... you know...
And, I expect them to be basic, even threadbare... and struggling; and yet I find the ones that I have visited positively overflowing with carefully tended gardens, gold on almost everything and clearly some deep pockets.
Samye Ling has assaulted my senses: a full on colour bonanza with larger than life sculptures, floating on lakes of shimmer and meaning. (I should say that at this point I have no clue as to their meaning. But I'm hoping to leave more educated).
Along side this sensory overload is a setting that seems to have jumped out the faerie books. Rolling hills, a beautiful Cairn at meeting of two rivers, some workers' wooden huts with charming hand painted signs, sheep grazing and a sunset coming over the yonder pasture.
Just lovely...just lovely... I am seeing it has some magic.
I got here on a big, fast (scary for my wee car) motorway and then a wee, winding, potholed country road. There was a little detour while I saved Bella the Border Terrier from certain demise on one of the lorry-trundling country paths, but after her farmer mum came to save her (hilariously charging in on a white Range Rover steed- really? White? On a farm?) it was pretty easy to find.
Everyone is slightly hushed and contained - and they mostly seem to come in little groups. Dinner was interesting: I was in two minds about whether to go and face the social awkwardness of knowing no one, JUST to eat some soup. But I girded my loins (what does that mean?) and pulled myself up to my (almost) 52years maturity and went into the dining hall. Soup it was and lovely too - tomato spiciness. I sat at a long table in the silent area - I actually didn't know it was the silent area until I noticed everyone chatting on the other side of the room and no one looking to engage in conversation. Jeez ... looks like it may be a long evening.
Still... I think I read somewhere that the Tearoom re-open at 8pm, so I'll revisit my loins and try that.
Meanwhile, it's just as well I checked the paperwork for tomorrow. We seemingly start this evening and I've to meet everyone at 7pm! Yikes... 10minutes to spare...)
Yesterday was blue skies and we even had a Mindful Movement teaching practice outside, at the Ecohut. Lovely to be out getting some sun so early in the year. I've gotten to know the people more and they are all interesting, intelligent and I think a little vulnerable. Do I come across the same way? I wonder...
Today promises to be just as beautiful and the morning welcomed us all with a flurry of satires in the sky. Auspicious I felt.
I'd made a stone stack yesterday, a little further along the path; and this morning it had a partner! It was just gorgeous to feel that someone else had wanted to do that.
So far, I had been unsuccessful in finding a heart shaped object for my friend Gillian (a little tradition we have together), but was delighted to find a perfect one... just next to the new stone stack. It was as if the mystery builder left it for the marriage of the these two friends. So I placed it beside my stone stack, took a photograph for Gillian, and left it for the next person to find.
What did I learn this weekend?
That there’s not much movement in Mindful Movement - that movement itself is not central but an interval of sensation: a support for the practice.
That small and easy to copy movements are key, otherwise it becomes too instructional - and people come out of their bodies and into their minds…
That I am already Mindful (to a degree) in my Movement teaching - that I understand the principles of this and I am reassured by this weekend’s teaching. Phew… that’s good.
Mindfulness itself? I still have a lot of learn and a lot to practice. BUT the integration of movement with Mindful practice is a helpful and (I reckon) a good way for many people to understand and start this path. I found that holding good posture is key - that embodiment means just that.
The concept of holding ground for yourself whilst teaching mindfulness - embodying the teaching - became important. 50% give to class and retain 50%? A concept to contemplate further.
That Sharing and Enquiry (Holding space for someone and helping them to examine themselves) are central elements of a Mindfulness practice. And that can be hard. It is not everyone's cup of tea: I am not a great sharer of feelings in a group setting, so I get it…I really do… But it adds important depth and progression to your practice. Listening to others’ perspectives can (and do) broaden your own; and offers a language to help you explain your own thoughts. It can help you recognise things in yourself that you may have missed in your own enquiry; and that giving your full attention to someone else, non-judgementally, is a gift .. a very precious one.
There is no short cut here - this is a practice in the truest sense… and I am really enjoying every minute of it.