We tend to practice meditation alone. It’s a hangover partly from the monastic emphasis of going away from the world and sitting under a tree to clarify the mind. And there is, of course, huge benefit in that. The tugs and tumbles of the modern world make it very difficult to get any purchase on the slippery slopes of the busy mind unless we find somewhere relatively quiet to practice.
But finding solitude to examine the mind is very different from pretending that the mind functions in a vacuum.
We are who we are because we live together with others in a World.
All the information flowing out of neurobiology and psychotherapy illustrates, quite convincingly, that the human brain is actually formed in a massive growth spurt that begins in the womb and continues through the first 18 months of human life. The growing is dependent on the stimulation and support offered by the world around us. The presence of a loving mother, supportive father, challenging siblings, the cacophony of the noisy house, the smells of the kitchen, the colours of the gardens. All of this surrounding environment all plays into the growth of our brain and, therefore, of our sense of being in the world.
We are who we are because we live together with others in a World. So, any meditative practice that labours under the illusion that we can exist free-floating and separate from the web of human contact and the worldly phenomenon is doomed to frustrated failure. We are interconnected and mindfulness offers us a chance to become aware, sensitive and flexible to that common touch. We train ourselves in mindfulness, in order to be more fully and energetically inside that web.
As we start to factor that awareness into our daily life, then our field of attention grows
With that in mind, myself and Kathy Osborne have been running a course over the last few years called Mindful Togetherness. It looks at the way in which mindfulness can help us co-exist. Not only with other people but with the world around us. The key to this is an awareness of our bodies and the energy fields that underpin them.
When we walk into a room, it is the body that enters it and it is the energy fields of the people in the room that sense, respond and react to our entrance. Most of this goes on almost automatically and almost unconsciously. I say ‘almost’ because mindfulness allows us to become aware of these lightning-quick rearrangements in energy and body language.
One of the ways we can attune to this is through mindful movement. A form of body aware yoga where we are tuning in not only to the position of our bones but also to the energy we feel in our bodies. As we start to factor that awareness into our daily life, then our field of attention grows. Not just “what am I thinking” but also “what is my body feeling” and “how is my energy reacting to this situation”.
It’s a quite different way of existing in the world – not just in the head but in the energized body.
I’d love to know your thoughts about being together. Drop me a message with any thoughts, comments, questions, queries or insights that pop up while reading the blog. I’d love to hear from you!