• No previous experience necessary.
• No Fee. Suggested voluntary donation to cover the studio rental: $8. No one turned away for lack of funds. Smaller amounts (and larger) are welcome.
• Facilitated by James Martin and Kevin Williams of Mindful Somatics Institute.
• Please wear clothing which allows for free movement (bring layers to regulate body temperature if necessary). Also bring a water bottle for thirst.
The first image which comes to most of our minds when we think of the word "meditation" is that of sitting relatively still, cross legged, and focusing upon our breath as a "mindfulness anchor." There are many other approaches to sitting meditation, of course. And they are often generally helpful. But our approach in this embodied mindfulness practice session is not limited to this posture. Nor is it limited to movement. In fact, our approach is very free-form and open. We are simply providing an open space to explore embodied mindfulness practice as it spontaneously and naturally unfolds, sometimes moving spontaneously and/or improvisationally while at other times laying, standing or sitting relatively still. Our "mindfulness anchor," in other words, is not fixed throughout the meditation period. And we are free to shift -- or transition -- from one posture or mode of movement freely, led by our own unique individual, unfolding process. Trusting these transitions, when they arise, is a hallmark of this practice -- as is staying with whatever calls to us to explore.
(Those who would like the facilitators to provide more guided direction are encouraged to ask for this. We will be happy to suggest very simple, specific, guided practices upon request. We will also encourage some exploration of the free play space of spontaneous improvisation. Freedom is found both in form and in formlessness.)
However, this open-ended freedom is also anchored by our ongoing and unfolding, unique and personal exploration of our immediate experience of breath, movement and sensation. We may say that these three -- breath, movement and sensation -- are intimately interwoven aspects of a whole, and that whole is our primary, ever changing and shifting "mindfulness anchor" (sometimes called "the object of meditation"). In some moments we may choose to (or simply allow) a focus more narrowly on breath as it is experienced as movement and sensation in our chest, or belly. At other times we may choose to focus on the sensations and movement as they appear throughout the whole body. But we always return to breath, movement and sensation -- or to any of these -- as an open-ended flow of meditation set free.
For the sake of beginners in this practice, the facilitator will offer more guidance and direction during the first hour, such as by suggesting a unique approach to walking meditation (not the usual sort seen in most zendos, etc.) or laying down meditation.... During the second hour, we will all be free to explore our unfolding free-form embodied meditation in our own unique, spontaneous way. This may involve rolling on the floor, dancing, spontaneous movement, laying down ... or sitting on the cushions which will be provided. It's all up to you at that point, which makes this meditation a kind of free play of spontaneity.
This embodied mindfulness practice draws influences and inspirations from many traditions of somatics and mindfulness meditation, such as Authentic Movement (though it is not that, per se!), the teachings of Will Johnson and Reggie Ray, etc. As in Authentic Movement, our approach embodies a deep trust in our own unique unfolding discovery process.
At the heart of this approach is lovingkindness toward one's self and all others present (which we call "sanctuary") ... and an abiding intention to meet each this moment with the fresh and tender curiosity which is beginner's mind (shoshin in Japanese).