Managed to make the 5 Hindrances continuation session after some persuasion. I arrived a couple minutes late, hot, flustered & sweaty, which was embarrassing but there were others who arrived even later & the initial 25min meditation enabled me to calm down. Someone mentioned how they enjoyed the immediate gratification of completing tasks on a to-do list whereas you cannot do that with meditation. I chipped in “You can’t tick off achieved enlightenment,” and everyone laughed. I also mentioned how I have a calendar with a key so if I do something creative in a day, I’ll draw an A for art, if I do some writing, I’ll draw a pencil & if I do some meditation, I’ll write om and a few ladies seemed to appreciate that idea. In the small group discussion, rather inarticulately, I mentioned what I had talked about in CBT about how I can sometimes be cynical, that mental illness seems too overwhelming & encompassing to be overcome via practicing mindfulness etc. I also jokingly asked if a husband’s morning hug was a euphemism. My mind wasn’t fully attentive during the meditations & my body felt very tense during the mindful movement (8 Pieces Of Brocade, Qi Gong) but at least I showed up. Usually, if I have managed to leave the house, I try to utilise the entire day so afterwards, I completed some household chores & trekked up to the Sheffield Buddhist Centre to drop off a duvet & woolly socks for their refugee appeal.
At the following session, there was a body scan with a focus on Self-Compassion and we were instructed to put a hand on our heart as a reminder to be kind to ourselves; I felt rather emotional. “Imagine that your attention is infused with a warm glow of kindness. Bring a sense of gratitude, tenderness & respect to each part of your body, reflecting on what is does for you & how you take it for granted. Bring kind awareness to your spine, gently curving through your body and the point at which it meets the skull. Have a sense of the solid frame of your body. Notice how sensitive your face feels to the temperature of the air in the room & allow it to soften.” Therefore, an invitation to appreciate physical health, regardless of mental illness. We repeated the 8 pieces of Brocade & I felt more relaxed & focussed. Exercises include the Bow & Arrow and Heaven & Earth, in which you imagine a ball between your hands, one above the other & then raise one hand to heaven & lower one to the earth, the ball is then reversed & the opposite hands are raised & lowered. Then there was a meditation involving imagining a safe place (that welcomes you, enjoys your presence & is always available to immerse yourself in) and as before, I visualised a Japanese garden with a Buddha ornament in the late afternoon sun, falling Autumn leaves of rich colours, a bridge & water feature with golden fish, a wind chime or singing bowl gently chiming & a vibrant red door in the background leading back into the real world.
During the Sounds & Music session, we listened to a few songs, including Jan Garbarek’s ‘We Are The Stars’, which made me feel emotional. At the beginning of the 1st track, I looked around at all the women’s faces with their eyes closed, appearing peaceful and one yawned to the music. We were encouraged to express our name several times in different tones around the circle, which was a tad embarrassing and Trish commented how we are exposed when we use our voices, hearing ourselves. Weirdly, about 75% had names beginning with J. After stretching, we lowered our hands to the ground along with our voices from high to low like a scale-driven sigh, then raised our hands and voices up to the ceiling again, which was fantastic. Then there was an exercise calling, “Ah” with a hand placed on the stomach, “Oh” on the heart and “Ooh” on the forehead. Emotions change when singing. “What does it feel like in one word?” Vibrational, energising, playful, rhythmic, harmonious, evocative etc. There were a couple of Native American chants e.g. “Hey heya heya hungabar!” used in Neolithic caves to call to each other before language and “Neesa neesa neesa, neesa neesa neesa, gui-wao gui-wao,” which was about honouring creation or nature; our place in life. A short meditation followed, “Notice the sounds in the room, the vibrations in your body. And then extend your listening further, out of the building, right to the horizon. The faint hum of the city & the traffic. Over the hills, the sea, into the universe.” The final melody was 3 pitches combined of the phrase, “In Beauty May I Walk.”