I’ve been a bit of a nomad these last six months, doing house-sits, camping, festivals, cruising in my van, and a bit of Wwoofing.
I love the freedom of this lifestyle, but what I noticed after a few months was that I needed a routine that would give priority to my meditation practice no matter where I was or what I was doing.
For that reason alone, I was excited when I heard Peter Fernando was offering an online course of his wonderful guided meditations, wisdom and insights.
It’s called A Month Of Mindfulness, and comes with a collection of downloadable guided meditations, discussion forums and skype check-ins that I could listen to and engage with while “on the road”.
I like Peter’s approach; while firmly based on age-old wisdom, he offers a very fluid teaching style, grounded in our modern day parlance. The course itself allows the practitioner to self-select which guided meditation feels right, and to attend to that wisdom for as long as is needed.
While meditation is not new to me, I started the Month of Mindfulness practice at a time when I was feeling overwhelmed and over-stimulated by all that life was throwing up in my path, therefore my instinct was to stick to the basics of meditation. I chose the “Discovering Mindfulness” guided meditation that Peter suggests as a good entry into the practice.
I expected to spend a couple of days on the basics and then move on to another, like the Heart Opening meditation, or the Presence in Relationship meditation (now that one would be a doozy!)
This didn’t happen; I found such a richness in the Discovering Mindfulness meditation that for three weeks solid – every day – I stuck to that one meditation, with a new insight sinking in each time.
In the past I had become quite skillful at transcending my body and sending out wellbeing and goodness into the universe, but I’d neglected how to be with my own state of being, whether it was tiredness, scattiness, anger, sadness or contentment. I’d forgotten to tune in with my body and coming back to my body and its intelligence was exactly where I needed to start.
After the second day, I decided to commit whole-heartedly to a month of mindfulness practice.
In any committed meditation or mindfulness practice, awareness is going to shift. It’s a fact. I feel this is such an important consideration to take stock of, because as life starts to take on a new perception, there is a fall-out of old ways of being. Old behaviours or stuck energies are shaken into the light and it can potentially cause big changes in your life.
This is what happened to me.
In a very big way.
Reality, it turned out, was not what I had been looking at. I had super-imposed so many ideals and perceptions in front of the truth – sure, they were beautiful ideals – but as I tuned in to my body, I started to experience how much effort it took for me to hold all those ideals and projections in place.
No wonder I was so overwhelmed by everything.
Going back to the basics was so transformative. I began to acknowledge how much energy I was using to hold a very dear relationship to me in the shape that I wanted it to be in. I had told myself that I was holding space for this relationship to grow, but what I was actually doing was holding the relationship in a shape that was acceptable to me.
As I tuned into the state of my body and being, I could feel how much energy I had locked in to that holding. That feeling was playing out in mild forms of depression, anxiety and overwhelm.
Over the course of the mindfulness practice, these feelings intensified. Was I doing something wrong in my practice? Surely my state of being should be easing, getting better; shouldn’t I be finding more peace?!
Each week I checked-in with Peter. In these conversations I got to experience the more personable side of this ex-monastic monk.
Peter understood the growing agitation I was experiencing. With the greatest of empathy, he held the space open for me to sit with all that was arising. This empathy was the key ingredient for me. I wasn’t being ‘fixed’ and regarded as ‘broken’, rather, I felt validated in experiencing all that was arising simply because it was arising. I felt strong being vulnerable.
On one occasion I felt I’d fallen into a pit so deep that I felt ashamed to burden anyone with the splayed guts of my life. I wrote an email to that affect to Peter, and cried in gratitude when the return response eased all my fears. I could feel the genuine delight and joy in Peter’s words as he reaffirmed once more that he welcomed all that I had to share.
No matter what I delivered, his heart had been there and had directly experienced what I was going through. With Peter’s encouragement and gentle insights, I directed my attention away from the ideas that were making me suffer, and moved towards a sense of ease and peace.
Certainly from an outsider’s perspective my life was taking on the appearance of falling apart, but I could feel in my body, that this was the emptying I needed to go through.
Committing to A Month of Mindfulness has clearly changed my life. Some of the biggest stresses that psychologists talk about – marriage break-ups, moving house, getting a new job – have all been present in this turbulent time. While there has been a huge amount of grief to hold, in that same hand I am also holding joy and a deep sense of liberation.
I can’t express how grateful I am for the attention and guidance Peter has given me through this process. It has taken me to spaces within my own psyche and practice that I never knew existed, let alone touched. I have seen my own strength and resilience first hand, and an insatiable longing to live life as a graceful expression of truth and love.
Each time I sign up for this course, I am honoured beyond words to be in the care of such a gentle and masterful practitioner of mindfulness.
Peter’s next Month of Mindfulness course starts up on June 1st. For more information, or to sign up, visit his website at http://www.monthofmindfulness.info/