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JAN 2021 : "Let your meditation be like the sea, bottomless"


6 weekly sessions of kum nye meditation and mindful movement, offered through the format of Zoom, online:

Thursday 21st January through till 25th February
4 - 5.45pm (join session from 3.45pm to get settled) UK time.

We will continue to use the meditation instructions given by Milarepa, one of the most famous of Tibet’s yogis of the past:

"Meditate like the sky, without centre or limit.
Meditate like the sea, without bottom.
Meditate like the mountain, with stability."

Having concentrated on the other lines in previous courses, we shall take the line

"Meditate like the sea, without bottom”  as our inspiration this time.


It is particularly apt, as we pass through the deep yin time of the year:  wintertime, energetically described by the element of Water.  A time for deep stillness, peace, incubating of resources and thus replenishing and renewing ourselves, contacting our source deep within, in the quiet of the year.

Since this focus may not always be readily available to us, we can practise movements and meditations such as those given in the Tibetan practice of kum nye, to bring out the best quality of where we are at and whatever it is we are going through.  The risk with the “Water” time of year is that energy can become stagnant and polluted, like a putrid pool that has no flow.  So, flow and presence and clarity are important qualities to nurture so that we can contact the kind of deep, clear stillness that is resourcing and refreshing.

All welcome to join, full instruction will be given, and the group will be small so that questions can easily be asked and discussed.

Please let me know if you would like to join.

Charges:  £135 for the full course of 6 sessions
£108 for the full course for anyone with financial hardship 
£25 per session if attended as individual workshops, which is also possible


SEPT 2020 : Kum Nye practice this Autumn


We shall especially explore the meditation instructions:

“ Meditate like a mountain, with stability “

And choose some exercises, self-massages, movements and guided meditation to support an exploration of what this might mean to us.

A recent teaching, attuned to our times, spoke of how we often live as if we are on top of a very small, very high-up, platform.  We don’t have much leeway to bear things, and react to everything all the time, always up and down.  Its rather stressful to live like that, with constant fear and anxiety we will topple off our platform.  So, how would it be if we could make that ‘platform’ we live on, big and wide and expansive?  So we feel really stable.  It is, of course, all about our state of mind.  Imagine a really stable mind, where we could aspire to remain the same in all circumstances life throws at us.  I’m not suggesting we can do that straight away, but even a small step in that direction can transform our lives, and our way of relating with all sorts of situations. 

Kum nye is a wonderful tool to empower this ability, to expand and free the mind, so it can settle and stabilise.  To help us find that way of living as if our platform is broad and wide and stable.  We will explore what these words (and more) might mean, in experience, through the medium of meeting online to practise these body-based disciplines and see how such teaching relates to our own lives.

MAY 2020 : Bardo, an 'in-between' kind of place

There is a concept in the Buddhist traditions of the Bardo - an ‘in between’ kind of a place or state, a state of transition.  And this is one of those teachings that could lend itself particularly well to getting our heads (and hearts) around the place we currently find ourselves in.  I was mulling it over and thought you might like to be reminded of some teachings of Ringu Tulku’s on this subject, as well as sharing a poem I’m sure is on the same topic.

I made a short précis of Ringu Tulku’s chapter on the Bardo below, and attach the full chapter below as a PDF if you want to read more.  This was originally published in Ringu Tulku’s book 'Being Pure’ which some of you may have a copy of.  I think you will quickly understand why I thought to share this in these times.   

The word bardo is a Tibetan word, which means ‘in between’ - ‘hanging in between.’  It can also be translated as ‘transitory’, ‘in transit’ or ‘transient.’  Sometimes people understand the Bardo to mean only the experience after death, but it is not just that.  From the point of view of the Bardo teachings, every situation and every moment and every experience is a bardo experience, because it is a transient experience.  It is something transitory.  It is between things; it travels; it does not stay put.  So, therefore, the whole cycles of life and death are all described as bardos.

Every moment is seen as an opportunity to free oneself from the bondage of samsara.  Samsara is a state of habitual tendency, a state of mind, of reacting with ignorance and aversion and attachment.  We have continuous pain and problems for this reason.  But there is also, always, continuous opportunity to get out of this situation, to become free of this state of mind.  Every moment allows us the possibility to understand that it is not necessary to have all these sufferings and pain and problems.  At any moment, at any stage of the transition, there is this opportunity: not only during our lifetime, but also at the time of death, and also after death, and also at the time of rebirth.   At any time of transition, there is always the chance and possibility to free ourselves from this bondage.

Therefore, we need to be aware.  That is the reason we need to tame our mind.  It is why we need to purify our mind.   It is why we have to transcend our samsaric way of reacting.  It is why we need to understand and experience the true nature of ourselves and the true nature of phenomena, of everything.  If we can truly experience that, then there is nothing that is actually binding us.  What is binding us is our own misunderstandings, our own habitual tendencies; our own way of seeing and our own negative emotions; our own experience and nothing else. 

The idea is not that I try to bring some other culture into my life, or I try to become something different from what I have been, or the way people do things normally around me.  It is not about bringing something else into my life.  It is about living my own life in a way that is good for me, with compassion, with understanding, with wisdom; in a way that I can experience much more peace, much more tranquillity, much more kindness and joy, much less negativity.  That is the practice. 

Short edit of Ringu Tulkus words by Mary Dechen Jinpa, May 2020

And then there is this poem too, which keeps coming to my mind.  A children’s classic written by Winnie-the-Pooh’s author, A A Milne.  It reminds me of this Bardo concept, I’m sure that’s why people love it so.  To me, it's pointing us to the spaces in our lives, the potential for rearranging and reaffirming, realigning and starting afresh, for pausing, possible in every moment.  The freedom it can bring.  

But if your life is anything like mine, I also notice there can be an enormous dull heaviness or confusion, when we don’t know where we’re going anymore, when the government or health concerns have to put restrictions on our plans and movements, when we don’t know how long these will last or when or how they will change.  When our expectations and dreams have all been dissolved, what are we to run on?  

I think actually this is exactly the place of practice, the moment to realign, to remind ourselves of our basic motivations in life, our aspirations, to open to how they might be brought out into reality; to reconnect with basic kindness, to draw out compassion and to try and see things as they are, clearly, truly.  So, more than anything I guess I am writing to support you all, to support us all, in practice, in keeping going with it.

Halfway Down


By A A Milne


Halfway down the stairs
is a stair
where i sit.
there isn't any
other stair
quite like
it.
i'm not at the bottom,
i'm not at the top;
so this is the stair
where
I always
stop.

Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up
And it isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery,
It isn't in town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head.
It isn't really
Anywhere!
It's somewhere else
Instead!




MARCH 2020 : Despatches from the Hill

See article published in Many Roads e-zine as:

DESPATCHES FROM THE HILL:  Mary Heneghan


Ċ
Mary Heneghan,
10 May 2020, 13:32
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