Note From Louisa
 
What helps to sustain us when the rug has been pulled out from under us? When we can no longer find the ground beneath our feet? To whom do we turn when the things we thought we knew and counted on are no longer reliable or, more accurately, when we become aware that they never really were? These are the foundational questions we must face when life throws a curve ball our way, or perhaps a series of curve balls, too quick in succession to allow us to catch our breath.
 
None of us is immune to life. We will all grapple with these questions on our own journeys. As Pema Chodron reminds us, there is wisdom available when we accept to the reality of "no escape". When we understand surrender, not as an intellectual construct, but as the only possible response.
 
We do not face these challenges alone, however, or without resources. I have recently been reminded of three gifts that can help us to navigate the utter loss of control that is imminent for us all, whether through illness, death or an unexpected change of fortune.
 
The first is community. The second is consistency. The last is gratitude. Like any bountiful garden, all three require careful cultivation and nurture.
 
In this month's article, Dan speaks eloquently to the second of these: the beauty of a consistent practice. Daily practice allows us an anchor when all else seems to fail. I hope you will find comfort in his words and comfort in your own practice, as you face the inevitability of life.
 
With Compassion,
Louisa
Announcements
Ongoing Contemplative Practices  (No Charge) 

Workshop: Sitting Meditation Groups
Workshop: Mindfulness Study Group (see below)

Workshops & Events
Hosted at The Center for
 Mindful Living
Mindful Self-Compassion: 
Moving from Shame to Self-Acceptance
Facilitated by Louisa Foster, PsyD, RDT/BCT
Wednesday Evenings, 4 pm to 7 pm
October 23rd to December 18th (no class on 11/27)
 
Nurturing a strong, positive relationship with ourselves is at the very foundation of emotional well-being and resilience. This eight-week class will help you to develop the skills necessary to turn toward life's challenges with tenderness and curiosity, rather than avoidance, anger or shame. Research has found that having a self-compassion practice acts as an effective buffer against anxiety and depression. Learning to soothe and comfort ourselves in times of distress increases our sense of gratitude and happiness, and enhances all of our relationships.

This class includes small group exercises, opportunities for private reflection, and guided meditations. You will leave the experience with your own personalized self-compassion practice to rely on during life's more difficult moments. No prior experience with meditation is necessary.

You MUST ATTEND ALL SESSIONS as the skills and course content are designed to build on one another.  Maximum participants 15. Tuition is $500, which includes a course manual. (Payment plan and limited scholarships are available).
 
Register here , or contact Dr. Louisa Foster for more information at Louisa@thecenterformindfullivingomaha.com. Registration closes on October 15th.

Save The Date!
The Gratitude Retreat
(formerly the Buy Nothing Day Retreat)
A Half-Day Meditation Retreat
Friday, November 29th from 9am to Noon

Instead of waiting in long lines for the opportunity to fight over even more discounted, unnecessary stuff, please join us for a more grounded approach to the holiday season. Together, we'll explore gratitude and abundance in a world that is focused on competition and possession. How can we bring our gratitude to life in ways that elevate those we love and better the lives of others with less?  There is no charge, just drop in!

Ongoing Offerings
 
Mindfulness Study Group
Facilitated by Laura Crosby
First and Third Sunday of the month from 4pm to 6pm
 
Join us as we begin  A Path with Heart, A Guide through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life by Jack Kornfield. Considered an essential classic that many return to again and again as part of their mindfulness practice,  A Path With Heart offers inspiration and teachings for living mindfully, intentionally, authentically and compassionately - or as one reviewer put it, with "full-tilt compassion." 
   
The Group will read together, so there is no pre-reading or homework involved. We will read, discuss and practice mindfulness meditation based on the teachings of the book.  Copies of the book are available for use in the study session or to check-out.    

This Mindfulness Study Group is freely offered. There is no charge to participate. Drop-ins welcome at any time. While this selection is based on Buddhist mindfulness teachings, the Study Group as a whole is not religiously affiliated.
Featured Article

Daily Practice
By Daniel G. Weidner, MA
 
There is much being written about and discussed regarding Mindfulness these days.  In the West we tend to get a little faddish about things and we find that the current fad passes as the next one arrives.  The 2,400+ year old practice of Mindfulness will be around long after the current trend here in the West moves on. 
 
Practitioners of Mindfulness realize that a lifelong commitment to the practice is essential. There is an understanding that the fundamental goal of Mindfulness is not to attain some heightened state but to live our lives in the present moment - to be here now.  The practice helps us to be present for our lives as they are now. 
 
Practitioners learn that the past is a dream and the future is a vision, but the present moment is where we actually live.  We learn to watch our thoughts and to be with our feelings and emotions. We recognize and become aware of our suffering and emotional reactivity, and begin to cut through self-deception. 
 
The practice is in many ways healing and naturally leads to an increase in compassion, empathy, and understanding for ourselves and others.    No wonder it has gained some notoriety in the West!  But make no mistake; this is not a hobby to be picked up when one has some spare time.  The realization of the benefits of Mindfulness practice requires both a formal daily practice and an informal daily practice. 
 
The formal daily practice involves Meditation.  It is a fundamental.  Learning to meditate takes time and can be facilitated by engaging with a meditation teacher, reading instructional materials, viewing videos, listening to audio presentations, going to meditation retreats, and getting involved with other meditation practitioners.  
 
As a long time mediator it has been my experience and understanding that it is not how long one sits in meditation, but how often.  Yes, there are wonderful benefits and understandings to be attained by longer periods of meditation.  But sitting every day, no matter what is taking place in your life at the moment, is where the most significant impact of meditation can be realized.
 
Sitting when you feel great or ill, sitting when you don't really want to, sitting when you are traveling, and sitting when conditions are not ideal - this is where you find the greatest learning and insight into your own life.  So, formal sitting or walking meditation every day, no matter what... this is what will facilitate and maximize our ability to develop a deeper relationship with the thinking mind and to touch the heart.  
 
Through the formal practice of meditation we learn and develop skills.  We learn to concentrate on our breath, to observe our thinking mind, to name and note thoughts and feelings, and to deal with a myriad of distractions.  We learn about impermanence and the fact that nothing lasts and that change is our constant companion.  We learn how to return to the present moment. 
 
As we progress and grow in our meditation practice these skills begin to fully develop and we gain habit strength with them.  Our ability to recognize and be aware of emotional reactivity and suffering strengthens and expands.  We learn to note and/or name the thoughts and resultant feelings that arise, and let them pass.  We learn to return over and over to the present moment. 
 
The informal daily practice begins to take shape from the formal daily practice.  This is what is sometimes referred to as everyday mindfulness.  We take the learnings and experiences from our daily meditation practice and begin to utilize and apply them in our daily lives.  We take the formal meditation skills and begin to apply them on an ad hoc basis as we move through the vicissitudes of our lives. 
 
There is a growing recognition that we cannot know what may happen to us next and we begin to understand the groundless nature of our lives.  Trust in ourselves and our ability to open to our lives as they are begins to expand.  Over time we are able to recognize emotional reactivity as it is arising in the moment, note and/or name it, and (with some practice) let it pass.  Suffering (defined here as what we add to our experience) becomes increasingly apparent and we begin to comprehend that we no longer need to engage in the (sometimes habitual) thoughts that serve to extend or increase uncomfortable or painful experiences, as well as positive/desired experiences. 
 
We learn to accept what is happening and to move on with our lives.  In this way we bring greater freedom and equanimity to our daily lives.  The informal practice then begins to inform and enhance our formal practice.  There is an interdependence and interconnected-ness that develops in our practice between the formal and informal daily practices.  This then becomes a way of life for the practitioner and helps her or him to live life in the present moment in a consistent manner.
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The Center for Mindful Living is a space for healing that hosts independent practitioners and educators coming together to create an Urban Sanctuary in the middle of the city.