What we're about
Are mindful practices and meditations a large part of your life? Do you want to meet up with like-minded people who share similar views? If so, you've come to the right place. Our group is for people who practice self-awareness, self-compassion, compassion for others and want to make strong connections with those on a similar path. We meet in social settings like coffee/tea shops and restaurants to discuss anything that comes to mind in our lives and practice. Navigating our way through the world with the intentions of kindness, awareness and acceptance may sound simple, but it takes dedication and support to do so. This group is here to remind us that there will be highs and lows in our practice and that we are truly all in this together. We look forward to meeting you.
We are all here to support our practice and each other. If a debate or conflict arises during a Meetup please be respectful of other's opinions, try to move past it and come back to a supportive place.
The information below is my take on mindfulness inspired by research and personal influences. Please read the information below to see if this group is the right fit for you.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Mindfulness is the process of releasing unpleasant thoughts from the past, alleviating fears of the future and embracing life in the present moment. The origin of mindfulness comes from Hindu and Buddhist practices and has recently been adopted in western culture in helping fields as a technique to give people who feel stuck in their lives the ability to move forward. When the mind is on overdrive, it may cause feelings of sadness, despair, anxiety and separateness. Taking a moment each day to pause and take a breath allows us to uncover the peaceful awareness we all have within us.
Awareness is simply accepting the state of being.
Why is mindfulness an essential component to being happy?
Each of us has the ability to feel joy in life. Happiness helps guide us through our personal achievements, deepens our connection to others and lowers our stress levels. It also allows us to give back to society, whether it is in an abstract way like art, film and music or by helping others physically or psychologically.
Breaking Free of Self-Judgment - Redirecting Your Energy in a Tolerant Manner
Achieving self-acceptance takes practice and patience. Sometimes we are caught up in expectations of where we see ourselves at a particular point in our lives versus where we actually are. Holding onto such thoughts can be detrimental to growth and in turn, hinder progress. Releasing self-judgment is also essential while meditating given that in order to maintain a relaxed state you must allow thoughts to pass through your awareness without judging them. Meditation practice itself is a true test of self-acceptance. While meditating, take note of where your mind drifts, put those thoughts aside and focus on your breath or a specific body part. Once you recognize critical thoughts creeping into your consciousness and peacefully let them pass, you can release and ease the pressure of judgments that may be holding you back.
Compassion and empathy are key ingredients in mindfulness because we are social beings.
Connectedness and Suffering
Often times when we shut down emotionally we do not allow many people into our hearts or allow ourselves to love fully. Mindfulness allows us to feel more compassion for ourselves and others and also helps us in deepening our relationships. True happiness depends on a person’s ability to open their heart and develop a deep involvement with other human beings. When this happens, you will find that relations with others will become more fulfilling and genuine. Opening our hearts lets us see the world through a larger lens. When you are sad or upset it is imperative to understand that you are not the only one suffering in the world, others are feeling pain as well at the same moment you are. Suffering is not exclusive to one person; it is an intrinsic part of being human.
Toglen, meaning, “giving and taking” in Tibetan is a mediation practice. In Toglen practice, one envisions receiving the suffering of others and sending positive sentiments outward. This practice enhances interconnectedness and can illustrate the viewpoint that one person is not so different from the next and we all experience similar emotions. In the beginning stages of Toglen practice, it is important to start out on a small scale. To feel, understand and focus on your own suffering and happiness first, then to those in your family or close circle and finally, as you feel ready, moving this practice onto a universal scale.
Thankfulness broadens our hearts and world.
When we feel appreciation for what someone else has done for us we are experiencing a unique gift, gratitude. Expressing thankfulness lets us feel close to others, allows us to let our guard down and is quite pleasurable. Numerous studies have concluded that practicing gratitude can enhance one’s mood. Robert A. Emmons, Ph. D is a professor at The University of California and avid researcher in the study of gratitude and well-being. In his research, Emmons has uncovered that gratitude decreases negative moods and depression, reduces social comparisons and is linked to positive emotions and better sleep. Being thankful lets us move the focus from self to others, allowing us be more receptive to new possibilities.
“Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else: you are the only one getting burned.” – Buddha
In some studies forgiveness has been linked to stress reduction and has helped in alleviating anger depression and hurt. The act of forgiving someone else cannot be forced and must always come at a time where you are ready to give or receive it. When we are open to the idea of forgiveness it allows us to let go of anger and resentment and move forward in life. It may not always be easy to forgive someone, especially when we feel as though we were treated unfairly. Sometimes trying to understand where another person’s hurt, insecurity or anger came from helps us practice empathy, compassion and forgiveness. In some cases working on forgiveness may improve our relationships with others. However, whether you are looking to reconcile with a person who has caused you pain or simply feel lighter, practicing the skill of forgiveness is extremely beneficial.
It is completely normal to try to avoid physical and emotional pain since it is often unpleasant. Some common human reactions to this unpleasantness are to run from it, to tense up or to push it away. Pain may remind us of our mortality or that we each hold imperfections, but no matter how hard we try to deny it, it is still there. When we accept who we are and what each experience brings to us, be it wondrous or trying, we start to live life moment to moment. While there will always be internal or external distractions, it is dealing with these disturbances patiently and lovingly that is part of practicing awareness and acceptance.
Brach, T. (2003). Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With The Heart of a Buddha. New York, NY: Bantam Dell, A Division of Random House, Inc.
Emmons, R.A. (2007). THANKS! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.
Kamalashila (1996). Meditation: The Buddhist Art of Tranquility and Insight. Birmingham: Windhorse Publications.
McCullough, M.E., (2000). Forgiveness as Human Strength: Theory, Measurement, and Links to Well-Being. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology: Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 43-55.