As we approach the Winter Solstice I am reflecting on the last six months since Summer Solstice.  This is the waning phase of the year, the days growing shorter.  Traditionally, this is an auspicious time for planning and preparation.  What have you been up to? What is the theme of your past 6 months?

The Vedic understanding of time is vast and incorporates eons. Our individual lives are part of an enormous whole.  We come from the invisible womb of being and return there, again and again until the soul’s journey is complete.  We are made of stars and possess the innate intelligence of the universe.  This is a theory of course, an ancient way of framing the unknown, a poetic contemplation.  It is true that we are literally made of stars, the same substance of the universe.

Time is personified as Kala Purusha. The word Kala contains sounds related to the beginning, middle, and end of all manifested things.  Purusha is the essence of consciousness, beyond manifestation.  The implication is that we each have a time limited opportunity to express our essence.  We are all bound by time and go through cycles of time; natural, collective, and personal.

Classically, yoga practices are designed to work with natural cycles, to help us be in harmony with the deeper pulse of the planet and cosmos.  For instance, dawn and dusk are the considering the most powerful times to meditate and pray.

Collective cycles relate to our family, our peers, our place on the earth.  Consider your family’s cycles,   your generation’s expectations of life (boomers, x’s, millennials), the cycles of your neighborhood, your city, state, country?   Can you sense how this contemplation of time turns us towards the complicated subject of karma?  Why me?  Why not me?

There is a great Hindu story regarding how personal time cycles affect even the mighty Shiva.   It is believed that we all go through regular periods where the harsh gaze of Saturn tests us and transforms us.  It is called Sade Sati, the 7 ½ years of Saturn, and occurs every 23 years or so in a person’s life. When you are in Saturn’s gaze specifically, depends on personal birth factors.

The story goes that Saturn was the student of Shiva, yet still had to do his duty and cast his terrible gaze upon his guru.  Shiva tried to outwit him by submerging himself in the River Ganges for the entire 7 ½ years.
When he emerged he was delighted with his feat and cried,
“Oh Saturn! What could you do to Me?”
Saturn replied,
“You call that doing nothing to You?”

Where ever you are in regards to Saturn, in regards to your personal cycle, may the new phase of the year bring you deeper peace, greater wisdom, and fruition of your current hopes and dreams.

Happy Solstice, Happy Holidays.

Natasha

 

 

There are 2 Free Mindful Meditation classes in December

December 8th we will honor the mindfulness methods of Thich Nhat Hanh.
Present Moment, Wonderful Moment: Experiencing Mindfulness

December 15th a mindful practice related to the change of seasons.
The Fruitful Darkness: An Evening of Mindfulness Practice

All are invited to attend either or both classes:
Simply register 
No experience is necessary.

 

Ongoing Class

Meditative Yoga Sundays (Class continues uninterrupted thru the Holidays)
10 – 11:30 am at The Movement Shala 435 E. Ninth Street

Class happens every week without fail.  You never have to wonder.  On the rare occasions I am away, one of our regular students, who is also a trained teacher, subs and you get to experience someone else who appreciates meditative yoga.  Downtown is flourishing too, with great places for Sunday brunch- come to class, stay and play!  First time students are always free.
$10 class or $32 for a 4 class pass

 

Upcoming

Winter 2015 MBSR Schedule

MBSR Free Information & Introduction Session For Winter 2015 – Monday January 5th

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program MBSR Winter 2015 – Monday January 12th

Please see the full Schedule and Complete details here

Greetings,

We have two free Mindful Meditation practice offerings in December.

December 8th we will honor the mindfulness methods of Thich Nhat Hanh.
Present Moment, Wonderful Moment: Experiencing Mindfulness

December 15th a mindful practice related to the change of seasons.
The Fruitful Darkness: An Evening of Mindfulness Practice

All are invited to attend either or both classes:
Simply register
No experience is necessary.

January 5th we will have the free Introduction session for the MBSR Program . If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness or registering for the Winter 2015 MBSR program please register and join us.

As a holiday treat for those that have been to our classroom in the Library of the Ada Peirce McCormick Building, we all know what a great influence Moses is on our mindfulness practice.  For those that have not had the pleasure to meet him yet, he has a new video out.

Mindful Cat

Our message is first and foremost a nonverbal one; our message is our own action. thich nhat hanh.

 

Thank you for your support.

Natasha

A documentary film exploring the mind and bodies connection and its missing link in healthcare. With Andrew Weil, MD, Jon Kabat-Zinn …

Tucson premiere is Monday 29th September 2014 at 7:00pm  at the Gallagher Theater, Student Union Memorial Center, U of A

There will be a panel discussion after the film with Dr. Esther Sternberg ( U of A Center for Integrative Medicine ) and director Shannon Harvey.

Shannon Harvey created the documentary after an autoimmune disease diagnosis and a worldwide search for the missing Mind Body link in Healthcare. In the search there are interviews with recognized leading researchers, scientists, physicians and of course the folks actually living with and recovering from severe pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis.
Featured in the film, are: Alice Domar, PhD; Andrew Weil, MD; Craig Hassed, MBBS, FRACGP; Damien Finniss MBBS, PhD, MSc Med, BPhty, BExSc; David Spiegel, MD; Dean Ornish, MD; Esther Sternberg, MD; Herbert Benson, MD; Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD; and Sara Lazar, PhD.

 

Free to attend with the code: MBSRTucson

or if you wish to make a small donation of $6 and simply pay as profits are being donated to

U of A Center for Integrative Medicine

Tickets

Tickets for the Connection Documentary

 

Trailer

 

The July series of classes was a wonderful interlude for me personally this summer.  They were designed to stand alone each week, so people could come even if vacationing some part of the month.  And they were intended to both support alumni and welcome people exploring mindfulness anew.  It was a different experience than the MBSR program which gradually unfolds over time; and each week’s subject could have been its own seminar, but we put our toes in some healing water nonetheless. Thank you to everyone that participated.
Here are a few gems from each class to contemplate for yourself:

Deep Listening:   Listen with the intention to understand rather than help, fix, change, or even respond….

Mindful SpeakingWhen I’m quiet and solid as the ground, then I talk the low tones of thunder for everyone –Rumi

Group DynamicsTo understand true self- which knows who are in our in-wardness and whose we are in the larger world- we need both the intimacy that comes with solitude and the otherness that comes with community –Parker Palmer

Grief & Loss:  Only other wounded people can understand what is needed, for the healing of suffering is compassion, not expertise –Rachel Naomi Remen

Presented as 4 classes

Mondays July 7th – 28th 2014.

The cost is $20 per class and there is a $15 discount available for attending the entire 4 week series, making your cost $65 for the series.

The first three classes explore, The Mindful Communication of:
Deep Listening / Clear Speaking / Group Dynamics
&
The fourth class of the series is: Bringing Mindfulness to Grief and Loss

Ada Peirce McCormick Building, in the Library. 1401 East First Street at Highland Underpass on the UA campus.  Free parking available next to the building, in any space after 5pm.
Directions to the Ada Peirce McCormick Building

Thank you, Natasha!

After being able to discuss things in class, the meditations have been even more enjoyable. It is nice to let go of my fears and welcome the experience.

I am finding myself already noticing being almost in a trance like state at times, even when I am not in a meditation. I also feel what seems like physical sensations within my forehead. This feels calming and peaceful. It seems surprising that I would have such a quick and significant benefit from starting eight days ago, but it sure feels like I am. I have been doing two to three meditations per day and have been doing both the body sensing and the yoga nidra from the start. I am loving it! Thanks for all if your help.

The Spring seems to be coming fast.  At the recent Day of Mindfulness practice it was almost 80 degrees.

It made for lovely walking meditation and fresh air in the room, yet I found myself fielding weather anxiety.  If it is this hot now, what will it be like in June?! Come back to now, feel the sun on your face…  It is so warm we could almost use air conditioning!  Noticing the feeling of warmth in the body…  Something is terribly wrong on the planet!  Breathe, be where you are, this moment matters…  This is the practice, staying present, checking the tendency to be carried away by thoughts- as rational and noble as they may seem.

As the 12th century Zen master Wu-Men reminds us:  If your mind is not clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life. 

There will be another opportunity for alumni to attend the Day of Mindfulness May 17th.  I’ll send out an invitation closer to date.

There is a new 4 week Integrative Restoration course beginning March 3rd.

John Kabat-Zinn will be speaking at a public forum Friday, March 7th.

And the Spring MBSR program orientation on March 31st.

Natasha 

Some Feedback:

Thanks so much, Natasha.  The day was wonderful.  Surely facilitating groups like these is work you were born to do.  You have such a strong, gentle, kind, wise, and skillful hand on the rudder.  It’s a joy and a gift to watch you work, even when (I know, I know, I know) “watching you work” isn’t why I’m there.  It’s just a fringe benefit.  

Hello,

While considering a holiday message I came across these words of Thich Nhat Hanh, When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love. Isn’t it wonderful to think that we have this capacity within us year round!

MBSR is one method to actualize this capacity.  If you have had the training, I hope your mindfulness practice is flourishing and Hahn’s simple words remind you of what you know.

If you are interested in increasing your mindfulness capacity- please join us for one the upcoming introduction and orientation sessions.  As these occur during the busy holiday season, we will be sure to offer a few tips for handling holiday stress as well.

In response to alumni requests, we are also introducing a special fee for those that want to repeat the course.

As always, thank you for your support.

May your holidays be filled with acceptance, joy, peace, and love, Natasha

I have one more question I’ve meant to ask in reaction to what you said about meditation and crying several sessions ago – and now that this course is drawing to an end, I better ask it sooner than later: I have heard a number of times that not only is it o.k. to cry during meditation but it is also important and a sign of something deeper happening. I cry a lot. Don’t have an issue with that. However, I never seem to cry in meditation (whether in a group or by myself), or in any group setting – and I am wondering if that means that I am not letting myself experience the full thing? As I am asking the question, the question seems silly to me, but I’ve been through so many meditation sessions with people crying, even or especially the “seasoned meditators” (seems to happen a lot in Shambhala), that I am wondering if I am missing the depth of meditation if I don’t? Not that I *want* to cry while meditating, but sometimes I am wondering if I am somewhat shallow not to… To me it is almost the contrary – when I am really on the breath I can’t cry at the same time. I can rather use meditation to stop my tears and gain composure – if I am remembering to meditate in such a moment. What is your take on this?

Good Question:

Basic Response- You are not missing out on anything necessarily.  If you can cry as needed in your life, then you know how to let emotion flow out and through which is what it naturally wants to do.  Sadness, Anger, Fear, (even Jealousy, in my training) are natural emotions- if we don’t know how to feel them through, in the right context, they distort us.

And regarding breath concentration- you say “when I am on the breath, I can’t cry at the same time”- that is essentially true.  Concentration practices have a way of creating some transcendence.  Your concentration on the breath may be too strong to allow emotion to flow?

In this mindfulness training, body and breath are anchors and the bigger practice is awareness- the ability to watch the arising, unfolding, and dissolving of mind phenomena from a place of bare awareness.  The ultimate mindful state is non-interference.

So if you cry you cry, if you don’t you don’t.  The most important part of the practice on the cushion is that you learning how to work with your direct experience- sensations, emotions, thoughts, impulses in a more conscious way.  You are learning how to be with yourself, you are learning how to BE.

There is more to this is all but I think this speaks to your question

What is hard about being present…

Research seems to indicate that when we develop this basic embodied presence, we are integrating brain functions and naturally down regulating emotional re-activity.  We are able to align more with present moment reality- what is actually happening now versus what we think is happening now.  What is called for right now, versus fight/flight/freeze patterns that take over when we are triggered.  This also allows us to be more intentional, to steer our ship where we want it to go, not get thrown off course again and again.

What is hard about being present in this way is that the door to the unconscious or subconscious is more porous.  We are aware of more than usual and can be overwhelmed and flooded by unprocessed past material.  This is where the crying comes in for instance- you are crying for past hurts and losses, it is a form of release and catharsis and healing actually.  Ideally we let it happen, we feel it through and out, we are then more at peace with our feelings and our past experiences, and ready for new and different experiences too.

Yet a lot of us, are afraid of these feelings- afraid to be taken over by them, stuck in them, defined by them.  Oddly we are attached to some of them too, they are part of our story of self and we aren’t quite sure of who we would be without them.   They come up to consciousness and we reflexively stuff them back away.  This is where a rigid concentration practice can be a distorted meditation practice- you are using the practice to hide rather than heal.

With this said, such suppression (conscious or unconsciously initiated) can serve a person if they don’t have the capacity, context, or support to feel it directly right now, or the experience triggers them into a highly reactive or disassociated state.  Sometimes this unconscious blocking is actually a survival mechanism.  When we see the blocking and make a conscious decision “I can’t go here right now”- that can be a skillful, mindful response.