Dear Still Water Friends,
While many people think of meditation as something one does with one's mind, mindfulness practice has always been a body-mind practice. The Buddha and other practitioners in ancient India clearly understood that our conscious awareness arises not just from the part of the body we call the brain, but from the whole body. Like a musical instrument, our body-mind functions best when it is well-tuned, well-nourished, and well-cared for.
This Thursday evening, February 2, we will explore the body-mind connection by intentionally opening our bodies and noticing the changes that occur in our consciousness.
To facilitate this process, there will be some adjustments to our usual Thursday evening program.
The evening will begin for some at 6:30 with a Still Water Orientation session which addresses both the basics of mindfulness practice and provides information about our community. Newcomers and experienced practitioners welcomed. (If you are planning to attend, it is helpful if you let us know by emailing info@StillWaterMPC.org).
Our first sitting, which will include a guided meditation, will begin promptly at 7.
Silent walking meditation (instructions provided).
Still Water stalwart and yoga teacher Annie Mahon will lead the community in stretching and awareness exercises, beginning with gentle warm-ups and moving on to yoga postures which open the hips and shoulders. You may wish to wear very loose and comfortable clothing. (Also, if for any reason you feel uneasy doing any part of the stretching or postures, you are welcome to simply observe.)
With our newly stretched bodies we will return to our cushions for sitting meditation. Just before beginning, Annie will suggest postural changes we can make which may assist with alignment and relaxation.
We'll form a circle for our discussion, which will focus on changes we might have noticed during our post-yoga meditation, and also, the implications of opening our bodies for our daily life and for our mindfulness practice.
We hope you can join us. Two excerpts from Will Johnson's book, The Posture of Meditation, are below.
Excerpt from Will Johnson's book, The Posture of Meditation.
A body that is not aligned, relaxed, and resilient creates in itself a great deal of tension and extraneous pain. Any unnecessary tension that exists in the body directly translates itself into tension in the mind. Mentally, we feel compressed, compacted, bound in. If, on the other hand, we are able to bring out body into a state of alignment, relaxation, and resilience, then our mind begins to soften and expand as well. . . . Acts of clinging and aversion, no matter how overt or subtle, are expressed through systematic tensing in the musculature of the body. It may seem initially far-fetched to reduce the pain and suffering we experience at the level of mind to what have become virtually involuntary patterns of muscular tensing. Once again, however, we need to remind ourselves that states of mind are dependant on bodily postures. Objects, images, perceptions, thoughts, and attitudes continually come and go in the complex flow of life. Holding on to any of them with the intention that they stay with us forever is dependent on the same kind of muscular tension that we would feel were we to hang on to a long rope that has been secured around the neck of a wild animal. Pushing any of them away with the hope that they will disappear from our lives leaves us feeling equally exhausted and depleted.. Through familiarizing ourselves with the posture of meditation, we can begin to let go of the muscular patterns that lock us into a constant vacillation between the clinging and aversion that cause us so much pain and suffering.