Note From CML
 
We've decided to change it up a bit this month. Not only are you hearing from me this month, instead of Louisa, but we also have a wonderful testimonial from CML participant, Kathy Tack, in addition to our featured article, by Dan Weidner.
 
Both the article and the testimonial speak about mammoth life sufferings that the writers went through. The authors tell us how they used meditation and mindfulness to come out stronger on the other side.

What struck me about the article and the testimonial is that while the life experiences were vastly different, Kathy and Dan are similar. I believe they would consider themselves successful, strong people. They were surprised when the struggles of life knocked them down. But after time, patience and practice, they were able to do what was necessary to begin the healing process.

Let's take note of this. Life is hard. It takes us by surprise. It knocks the wind out of us. We will struggle and suffer. And when that happens, remember Dan and Kathy. Reflect on their experiences. I'm certain it can help all of us when we are trying to make it to "the other side."

With compassion,
Christina Ramon
The Center for Mindful Living Contributor

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
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 HeartA 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.

Workshops

Mindful Self-Compassion:
Moving from Shame to Self-Acceptance
Facilitated by Louisa Foster, PsyD, RDT/BCT
*Dates coming soon

Nurturing a strong, positive relationship with ourselves is at the very foundation of emotional well-being and resilience. This series of four, day-long retreats 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 our selves in times of distress increases our sense of gratitude and happiness, and enhances all of our relationships.

Each retreat includes small group exercises, opportunities for private
reflection, and guided meditations. No prior experience with meditation is
necessary. Maximum 12 participants.
Featured Article

Dukkha
Daniel G. Weidner, MA
 
This is a reflection on mindfulness practice during an intense period of loss, grief, confusion, anger, and resentment - in other words Dukkha. My father passed away on March 29th of this year. Eleven days later, upon returning to work from burying my father, I learned that my job had been eliminated due to deep budget cuts at my place of employment. Either one of these events would create significant stress in a person's life. Both happening in such quick succession left me in a fog. I was stunned, dazed and confused.

It was like a bad dream. I found that I had lost confidence in my own basic wisdom-mind and that I began to close down to myself and others. My reaction to these events took me by complete surprise.

What I found (in part) is that my expectations regarding my Mindfulness practice were actually getting in my way. I had thoughts that somehow I shouldn't feel this poorly as a result of my practice. That somehow, I should have been immunized from at least some of the impact of these losses. That I could just spend a little extra time on the cushion and basic equanimity would return. I felt like I should get a pass on some of the grief, anger, sadness, depression, anxiety, and sorrow that embodied my experience. Heck, I had been paying my mindfulness dues for a long time...right? Wrong.

I discovered that I had been trying to find ground in the shifting sands of my current struggle. I had been trying to impose my will upon events as a way to somehow bypass the effects of these events. I was faced with what Pema Chodron calls "the big squeeze".

To paraphrase Pema, the big squeeze is the discrepancy between our inspirations and beliefs and the situation that presents itself. It is the rub between reality and vision that causes the big squeeze. She goes on to state that it is this big squeeze that causes us to grow, to wake up, to live a mindful life, to be alive with compassion and understanding. Pema states that this "...is one of the most productive places on the spiritual path and in particular on this journey of awakening the heart."

In hindsight it seems that, to some extent, I have realized some immunization from this onslaught of dukkha. My years of training and practice, on a daily basis, in the meditation discipline of shamatha-vipassana have been of great benefit. As a result of my years of practice I began to comprehend and understand that I had to return to the basics as a way to deal with this inundation of dukkha.

I had to find my breath, get in touch with my body, and return (again and again) to the present moment through concentration practice during formal meditation. I reached back to the very basic skill sets that I had learned as a practitioner of Mindfulness as a means to find some balance again in my life.   I started with counting breaths during my daily meditation. I began to name and note the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that were flooding my experience. This was hard work.

A return to the basics of sitting practice also put me in a position to more consistently move through my daily life in the present moment. However, it was not until I actually engaged in the mindfulness practice of immersing myself in the present experience, of embracing the gestalt of the current events in my life and my responses to them, that I actually started to see the fog that had enveloped me begin to dissipate.

I had to be with the pain, anger, loss, resentment, and grief before I could start to let go and settle back into equanimity. I rediscovered that I had to go through the s*&# before I could get past the s*&#. I could not circumvent it; I could not ignore or deny it. I had to look at it squarely and know it for what it is. I had to embrace dukkha.

I am immensely grateful for my Mindfulness practice. The practice is, and has been, many things for me over the years. It has helped me to realize suffering when it arises. It has engendered both self-compassion and compassion for others. I have improved upon my ability to recognize emotional reactions as they begin to arise within me and to reduce the times when I get caught up in them. Gratitude, empathy and the ability to live in the moment are also artifacts of this practice.  But what I am most grateful for at this time is the way that Mindfulness helped me through these most difficult of times.

Namaste.
Testimonial
Left to Right: Machu Picchu, Great Barrier Reef, Nepal
 
Testimonial from Kathy Tack
CML Participant
 
Little did I know that my husband filing for divorce would be the best thing that ever happened to me. I truly did not think that at first. I was devastated, embarrassed, sad and very angry. I beat myself up for not being able to hold my marriage together. I blamed myself for the demise of the marriage. I was suffering from anxiety and wanted to feel better. I was stuck.  
 
In 2014, I wanted to learn how to change my mindset. I started to explore meditation, mindfulness and self-compassion. The Center for Mindful Living fit the bill. I enrolled in two classes at the Center. My first class was beginner meditation. Initially, my reason for wanting to meditate was off base. I just wanted to escape...
 
At first, meditation was not helpful, but only because my mindset was wrong.   I also didn't like myself at that point of my journey, so it was hard for me to sit with me. I since have learned the purpose of meditation isn't to tune out, but to tune into your higher self.
 
I also enrolled in the Mindful Self-Compassion Class (MSC). MSC helped me on my journey of emotional healing. It helped me to stop being so critical of myself and to begin to like myself. Before MSC class, my self-esteem and confidence were at an all-time low. The class helped me gain self-confidence and self-respect.
 
In 2016, I made the best decision I have ever made for myself. I retired. That same week, I packed up my apartment and drove myself to Vancouver, Washington. I moved to the Pacific Northwest to be near my daughter.  
 
I used to let fear guide my decisions, but not any longer. I do things I want to do such as hiking, scuba diving and traveling - all things I enjoy.   When opportunities arise, I say "YES".  
 
Saying yes to opportunities has opened up my life. Going to Nepal in 2017 was life changing. After visiting Nepal, I finally understood that joy is not dependent upon people, places or things. It is my own responsibility. I create my own reality.   
 
The Center for Mindful Living deserves credit for helping me on my quest to find joy. The Center helped me to get unstuck. It gave me the building blocks to find joy. I learned how to meditate in Dan's beginner meditation class.

Louisa's Mindful Self-Compassion workshop was the key to me moving forward and becoming unstuck. Before MSC, I was ver y hard on myself. I've learned to be kind to myself and not to take responsibility for others' actions.  
 
I have to come to realize one of my purposes in life is to be a role model for people who were betrayed, angry, sad or depressed and that there is joy on the other side. 
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