Dear Friends of Heartmind
It has been a while since I have seen many of you and also since I have been in touch with a news update on Heartmind activities. So, this newsletter is long overdue. It is a gorgeous sunny Sunday though, so cup of green tea in hand, I will try to bring you all up to speed…
MY PERSONAL SITUATION
You will be aware I had to stop my Monday evening group some months back and cut back on my teaching elsewhere, after my mother had a mini-stroke. Some of you kindly sent well wishes to the family and I am very grateful for those kind thoughts. While my mother has recovered well physically, no disability as a result, she has been affected mentally and emotionally leaving her feeling uncharacteristically vulnerable, depressed and quite anxious. My father has also recently undergone eye surgery in both eyes for cataract removal. So, I am spending what time I can with them at this stage of their life to help them out as best I can. It was always going to be a responsibility I needed to meet at some point, so I embrace giving back to them now, just as they gave countless years raising me in good health, a safe environment and with total love. What goes around comes around.
The other personal situation I want to mention is in regard to my ordination last year as a Buddhist priest and dharma teacher. As you will know, this is my main focus in life and for me has been the ethical and spiritual basis behind all Heartmind’s secular teaching activities. It is important that I continue to spend time developing my own meditation practice and enriching my understanding of the Buddhist teachings to pass onto others. So starting next year in February I am going to be doing a MA is Buddhist Studies at the University of South Wales. I will be studying part-time over 3 years, while also taking timeout for some personal silent retreats, which are essential as a Buddhist to bring together academic study and the living spirit of the Buddhas teachings.
So, given these developments in my personal life, for the next few years I am going to be splitting my time between care of my parents, study for my MA and a limited teaching schedule. I will explain more in this newsletter what teaching I am doing and what you may want to attend to keep up, develop and get the best out of your own home practice.
FLYING GEESE GROUP
It is with regret that I will no longer be running the Monday evening Flying Geese Group. I had hoped to restart the group in October, taking a little break over the summer, as people had expressed they were going away on holiday, or had childcare and other commitments, as well as my own personal needs as I expressed above. However, given the limited time I have available now for teaching and the fact that regular attendance at the group started to be an issue with its financial viability, I have decide to concentrate my energy into other areas of my teaching work, at least for the time being. If I do restart the Flying Geese Group at some point, which I would like to do, I will let everyone know. Meanwhile, I want to thank everyone who came along and was part of the group. I hope that for the time it was running that it gave you some inspiration and helped you integrate the simple practices we did into your own life outside the group.
I started a Dharma group some months ago, which runs on a fortnightly basis on a Thursday. This group is for people who have done the four week course with Heartmind (or have experience elsewhere of meditation) and wish to find out more about Buddhist meditation and the teachings of the Dharma on how to find peace and happiness in ones life.
This group is open to beginners interested in learning more, as well as those who are more advanced in their Dharma practice. There will be an element of teaching in the group, as I will bring topics for discussion and exploration of the dharma (the name for buddhist teachings) over a cup of tea. We will also have a focused practice session of meditation after the dharma talk.
There is no Qi Gong or Dao Yin Yoga in this group, so for those of you who just wish to keep up with a meditative practice, even if you do not wish to become a Buddhist, this is a good option. It may be that this group becomes a weekly group in October if there is enough interest in that.
While there is no charge for attending the group meditations, we do ask for a small donation of £4 towards the costs involved in running the group. We start at 7pm prompt and finish at 9pm. You are most welcome to come along and try it out to see if it is right for you, without obligation. We are currently a small, friendly and dedicated group. So if you would like to be part of our fortnightly or weekly buddhist meditation group, then please email me and let me know. It is best to let me know you intend coming along first, so that I can be sure it is a session that will be suitable for your first attendance.
We have over the past year been running a number of Heartmind retreat weekends, where you can go away to practice meditation in a more calm and concentrated environment. These weekends are an essential part of learning about mindfulness, deepening ones practice to get the best out of them and detoxing the mind from the many unconscious stresses that build up within it.
All the retreats have been very well attended with some really lovely people coming along, as you can see from the photos. I am aiming to run three retreats a year based at Cliff College in the Peak District, the main retreat being the Summer Solstice Retreat, but others planned for a post Christmas detox and one later in the year around October when the kids are back at school. These will become our regular yearly retreats that you can put in your diary and plan ahead to attend. You can find more about our retreats on the website, where I will be advertising next years retreats soon.
OTHER WORK I HAVE BEEN DOING
Over the past year I have also been running two ten week mindfulness courses for the Stroke Association (East Midlands). These have been really wonderful sessions, which I have enjoyed immensely. To see how mindfulness can really benefit people in recovery from strokes has been a real blessing. It was somewhat reflective that during the end of the last course, my own mother had a stroke. Obviously she is now learning mindfulness to help with her recovery.
I have also continued to run my 4 week Mindfulness & Compassion for Well Being courses every so often, though less frequently than last year. I aim to do a four week course every three months now, so four courses a year. The next one is in November, so if you know anyone who might be interested do ask them to get in touch. I rely upon word of mouth referrals from successful past participants rather than advertising in the magazines and newspapers. I also offer my 4 week course on a one to one basis for those who are not comfortable in a group or simply prefer private sessions.
I have also been doing some work with Derbyshire Benevolent Trust helping staff within Derbyshire Police Constabulary to learn the benefits of mindfulness practice. This is ongoing development work, making small in-roads into the work culture, but so far the response has been encouraging.
Other work I have been doing is for SPODA helping their clients with the stress and strains of looking after someone with substance misuse issues to learn mindfulness as a way of coping. Similarly, I have been doing some staff well being work with TWINKL an online education portal.
THATS ALL FOLKS...
So, thats all for now folks and I hope this brief newsletter has brought you up to speed with what is happening with Heartmind and the groups. If you have any questions, I am always happy to hear from you. May I take this opportunity to say thank you for your contiunued support of Heartmind as a not for profit and of myself as a Buddhist priest living in the community. Your donations and payments, no matter how small, all help me to keep doing what I do in helping others find peace in their life.
It has been my great pleasure to meet and get to know you all over the past couple of years. I hope that despite the Monday group not running right now, you will not be a stranger to the Thursday Buddhist meditation group, to the retreats or to book a one to one session and go more deeply into how mindfulness can help in your perosnal situation. You are all very much in my mind and in my heart. May you all be blessed with peace and happiness….