MBSR: Week 7

by mandy lipka

Though many of us were dying to share our experiences from the retreat, we opened with a silent sitting meditation. As you can imagine, several folks felt the moments of silence was torture, while others experienced peace and comfort. A dear friend of mine in class described his experience in the retreat and in class as being like a moat. The moat is filled with thoughts and he used the breath as a vehicle to go deeper and pass over the water. Others described their thoughts throughout the day as nats. For me, it was quite peaceful. But I must admit, other people’s restlessness kept me alert. I did feel empathy for them especially as my own foot started to fall asleep, but I breathed through it. Practicing Loving-Kindness meditations we learned on the retreat helped, too.

A reminded us that this is a life-long practice and that it doesn’t just end with next week’s class. It’s too easy to forget, but we must pick up and start again. She then guided us into a quick reflection on the retreat before we moved into pairs to discuss and practice “committed listening.”

Many of us experienced fluctuations in emotions especially as others shared their thoughts in the group discussion. The intangible sense of community overwhelmed us, even without eye contact and speaking. One classmate who was in the center of the group cluster mentioned rather than feeling incredibly irritated as she once would have, it wasn’t invasive or threatening Instead, she felt a sense of calming, like holding a newborn baby. A practicing psychologist described the experience by saying it’s like “going in to get out” and I couldn’t agree more.

Many of us held expectations for the day while others felt overwhelmed and maybe a bit scared of the full day of silence and sitting with ourselves. But most of us felt incredibly thankful for the experience. Once classmate said the day helped her realize that connecting to her breath has become like finding a best friend. We’re always in good company.

And that’s exactly it. This class is helping us figure out how we can be at home wherever we are in the moment.

Photo courtesy of: Paul Gillett

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