I’ve been meditating regularly for a couple of years, firstly with an insight meditation group and more recently with the Simply Meditation secular Buddhist group in Wellington, and have been teaching mindfulness meditation for a year with Mindfulness Works gaining in confidence and experience in the process. (The Mindfulness Works courses are very good incidentally, they are completely secular, endorsed by the Mental Health Foundation and are run around the country by experienced practitioners.)
As a result, my commitment to meditation and mindfulness has increased along with my appreciation of the gentle but tangible changes I have been able to make, and I’m keen to share this understanding with others.
In the middle of last year I decided I’d like to create something which went a little further than the Mindfulness Works courses. The course I designed will be running over four Wednesday evenings from Wednesday February 11 at Wellington High School as part of their Community Education programme.
As well as an introduction to some basic meditation techniques and approaches and providing an opportunity for course participants to share notes on progress, preparing for the course has given me an opportunity to prepare additional materials that I think will provide an holistic view.
My intention is to locate mindfulness meditation jointly in modern psychology as well as in Eastern and Western wisdom traditions. I’ll be looking at the reasons for the sudden explosion of mindfulness techniques in the mental health field and the meeting of Buddhist ideas and modern psychology by describing how the work of people like Italian psychologist Roberto Assagioli, the founder of the humanistic psychology approach called psychosynthesis, has melded a synthesis of the two traditions.
Also, I’ll look at the evidence of whether there are elements of what Buddhism describes in our broadly European heritage, examining the core propositions of a secular Buddhism to see whether they are in essence a modern philosophy for a good life. In this I have benefited from the work of Buddhists Stephen Batchelor, Winton Higgins and Steven Prime. The course is ambitious and full so I’ll provide lots of references for people who want to follow up with reading and online content.
I’m someone who likes their understanding to be based on a solid framework of information and I hope the course will attract people who would also find that approach useful. Despite the increasing evidence for the benefits of meditation each individual deciding to try it has to take the personal experiment on trust and with courage. Because mindfulness runs so counter to so much of our popular culture, an approach that provides support, information and contemporary context was my way in to the practice of meditation and I hope it will work for others.
If you know of anyone who could find the course interesting and useful don’t feel shy about letting them know.
I’ll answer questions on this blog, and you can also phone me on 022 126 1839 or send me an email.