a chapter of Mindfulness Ontario
Monday, May 30th: The Role of Spiritual Practice in the Modern World by Les Kaye (available on youtube.com)
Les Kaye had worked for over 30 years with IBM and knows the technology work place culture from the inside out. He became interested in Zen practice and mindfulness in general in his late twenties. Les Kaye received Dharma transmission - i.e. the authority to teach, from Hoitsu Suzuki, son of the well known Japanese Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki. He was one of the founders of the Kannon Do Zen Centre where his teacher taught for many years, in Mountain View California- one of the hubs of California High Tech . He is the author of two books on Zen: Zen at Work (1996)- and the more recent book: Joyously Through The Days (2011)
I believe I represent the majority in the room when I say we were mesmerized by Les Kaye’s presentation. A man of utmost humility, sincerity and warmth, Sensei Kaye (if I can call him that) connected with the audience very directly touching our deep rooted humanity. His description of our dilemma in modern life - how the greater culture ignores our basic human needs - to know ourselves and understand the meaning of our lives, and how this has impacted most of us.
It was interesting that he was speaking at Google, the leading centre of brain power driving on line information sharing, and also a competitive, challenging work environment. We can only hope that the Google audience appreciated the invitation to look deeper and shed the resistance to our cultivation of spirituality. He spoke simply yet with a clear and profound understanding of what connects us as human beings and what truly gives meaning to our every day lives. As one reviewer of his book “Joyfully Through the Days “ wrote: “Inspiring. With the voice of a caring old friend, Les Kaye shows how the essence of a spiritual life is paying carful attention” (Frank Jude Boccio, author of Mindfulness Yoga.)
Our sharing, following the video was sincere and personal. We reflected how our practice has sensitized us as individuals to appreciate the need to pay attention both in our personal lives and in our diverse work situations.
Monday, April 25th Meeting Summary
The meeting was well attended and was an enjoyable session filled with planning, learning and interesting discussion. Kathy asked for input regarding the location for the fall Nonresidential Retreat with Daryl Lynn Ross. Details .The retreat will take place Friday evening Sept 30 Th. to Oct. 2nd Sunday . We will be holding the retreat at the Royal Ottawa Hospital win a pot luck lunch on the Saturday. The theme of the retreat will be finalized soon . We then tuned into Dharmaseed website and listened to Tara Brach speak on Radical Acceptance . When we meet difficult experiences , Tara encourages us to stay with an attitude of " letting be " our thoughts and emotions . The acceptance is not about the content of the event but rather about being aware and present to the difficult thoughts and emotions that arise . Tara suggests that we stay engaged and try to undo our resistance to these unpleasant emotions. In nonjudgementally acknowledging this conflict within us , we can then look for something inside of us that's awaiting our acceptance. Inevitably the difficulty we experience comes out of resistance- often unconscious resistance .
Tara included in this talk a quote from Rumi : Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground. Be crumbled so wild flowers will come up where you are.
Summary provide generously by: Sue Fisher
On Monday, January 25th. Mindfulness Ottawa members and guests were treated to an engaging interactive presentation by Craig Mackie on Transformative Mindfulness. This is a method for working with symptoms developed by Dekyi Lee Oldershaw a board member of the Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom in London England. This organization has support from the Dalai Lama and others - in particular Tibetan Buddhist Teacher Lama Zopa Rinpoche. In Canada, these approaches are taught and promoted in Toronto at The Centre for Compassion & Wisdom. Craig has been trained to teach and train facilitators in Transformative Mindfulness and The 16 Guidelines developed by Alison Murdoch and Dekyi Lee Oldershaw. He is now offering workshops in both these approaches at the Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic. You can access information about the Toronto Centre at: http://www.centreforcompassionandwisdom.com
We were treated to an opportunity to experience for ourselves how transformative mindfulness can help to deeply explore a problem area through visualization, breathing and exploring areas in the body where we hold the tension and energy associated with our issue/problem. I found this way of working, bypassing language and rational analysis in favour of using visual imagery, felt sense exploration and locating emotional tension in the body - to be fascinating. Shifting perspective about the problem is emphasized. Craig gave the example of Albert Einstein’s quote: “You can’t solve the problem with the same mind that created it.” This method checks in with the client/ participant as to whether he is ready to change his view and ask for help. The willingness to let go (the story or the familiar ways of coping) appears central to transforming one’s experience. As Craig emphasized, a relationship of trust and safety for the clients (as always) is essential. During the exploration, turning toward the experience with patience and a deep level of mindful presence is emphasized to enable a transformational experience to emerge.
To summarize; here is my understanding of how this transformational mindfulness approach takes mindfulness based stress reduction strategies to a deeper level, and maybe, to a new direction. The focus is on sensory exploration (in particular building body awareness with “intuitive body scan”) and ways of building awareness through body sensations and emotional experience. Is this exploration substantially different from MBSR? As I see it, only in terms of emphasis and a deeper exploration of the mind body connection through added use of imagery, drawing and compassion based approaches. The “tool” of enhancing positive qualities leads an inquiry into where in the body one can experience a sense of being whole, at peace, and so forth. Dekyi Lee Oldershaw has taken mindfulness practices for body based problems and has sharpened them and focused them in a creative manner which will no doubt be very effective for many clients. Transformative mindfulness utilizes body awareness, visualization and sensory exploration as jumping off points for delving deeper into the stories and belief systems that have trapped us into repetitive cycles of physical and mental suffering. Oldershaw reports that research now under way - notably in Britain and in Florence, Italy will hopefully add an evidence based foundation to this way of working with trauma or chronic pain and other symptoms. You can listen to an interview with Oldershaw at: http://www.compassionandwisdom.org/learning-programmes/transformative- mindfulness
Nevertheless, this approach is not new to the field of psychological therapy. For example, in their classic book “The Body Speaks” James and Melissa Griffith write about binding stories and how to release from the rigid narrative we tell ourselves about who we are based on our past experience. The Griffiths were known for deep respect for clients and their stories, for their compassion and willingness to sit with clients in their courageous journey to unpack the denial and repression around pain and trauma . Listening directly to the body and inviting the clients to ask themselves questions that take them ‘out of the box’ of their habitual thinking about themselves has been around for decades.. even before the mindfulness revolution wherein Jon Kabat- Zinn showed us the power of mindfulness to open to and see clearly what IS here now.
Buddhism for Caregivers This is my own summary of Dr. Sumegi's wise and very helpful teachings to professionals providing care for human beings in difficult situations. Our heartfelt gratitude to Angela for her generosity! And may her teachings be of benefit to all!
Caregivers must use their knowledge responsibly and take good care of themselves. Self care ensures that our knowledge and experience are accessible to us under challenging circumstances. The caregiver is not left out of the intention to be benefited by his/her actions. As the buddhist dedication stipulates: "May these teachings benefit me and all other beings." Buddhist philosophy places our intention as being of supreme importance. If our intention is to care for others to reduce suffering; this intention if well established shall lead to wholesome results. Caring for human beings does not exclude the person that is the care giver. We need to examine our motive, intention and effort. However, when ego and a sense of me, myself or I arise: we become easily focused on outcome. This comes out of a concept of needing certain results to feed a sense of self. Caregivers focused on outcome are hooked into a kind of craving- which perpetuates ideas of who we are and how (successful) we should be. Abandon self, and the need for outcome lessens. We may strive to cure, to make happy and solve the problem for patients/clients. But we have to fact the fact that the client may be struggling with aversion, delusion and craving and is blinded to their own role in their situation. We can help clarify the whole situation only if we can remain in equanimity. Otherwise caregivers can fall into two erroneous mindsets.
1. Striving for some imagined necessary outcome, finding resistance and sensing the impossible situation, the caregiver can withdraw for fear of becoming depleted. Then in an effort to protect oneself, the caregiver may withdraw from compassionate action that is available to him.
2.When striving and getting caught in an impossible situation, the caregiver may feel responsible, often trying harder, blaming herself and may fall into the self sacrificing mind frame. This leads to conflict and bitterness which destroy right intention.
We can not force outcome just by sheer will. Nor is it skillful to assume that when outcome disappoints us, we are to blame.
Therefore, we can appreciate the importance of remembering that the caregiver's happiness is also important. When I am happy, I am able to bring compassion to the work. I am able to take care of myself so I can give another day.
How do we take care of ourselves? Ahh..Rest and relaxation are important but if our work is thinking and problem solving, we will need to take a rest from thinking. Letting go mentally includes switching off ruminating: get outside and experience life within a world changing moment to moment. And of course: sit and practice letting go of thoughts.
November 10, 2015.
March 12th, 2014
Exploring our Hindrances to Mindfulness, Peter Black, M.A.
In order to cultivate mindfulness, we have to address what mental habits take us away from the present moment, away from the here and now. The Buddha labeled these habits as “hindrances” and identified five of them in his Satipatthana Sutta – his teaching on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. In his own practice, Peter has identified about a dozen hindrances. In this talk, he will present a few of these and his approach to overcoming them.
Peter began meditating after attending in 1999 the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course taught by Melodie Benger. Since then, he has followed a daily meditation practice, annually attended a week-long silent meditation retreat, and completed a professional training program on mindfulness with Jon Kabatt-Zinn. He began teaching MBSR in 2013. A retired public servant specializing in policy analysis, Peter has lived in Ottawa since 1983.
January 13th, 2014
Mindfulness Starts Here: An 8-week guide to skillful living
Mindfulness-Based Interventions typically have not included practice of ethics-based skills and relied on implicit learning to convey its essence. Drs. Lynette Monteiro & Frank Musten developed the M4 Program as an Ethics-Based Mindfulness Intervention with the perspective that wellbeing requires active learning of discernment between what is wholesome and unwholesome. They will describe the M4 Program, its specialities such as Burnout & Pain Management, and explore ways to emphasize the cultivation of wholesome actions, speech, and ways of being in a mindfulness course.
Lynette & Frank founded the Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic in 2003 and the Professional Training Institute in 2006. Lynette has trained in MBSR, MBCT, MiCBT and MSC; Frank has trained in MBSR & MBCT. They are supervising psychologists for the University of Ottawa School of Psychology Clinical Psychology PHD candidates who are training in Mindfulness-Based Interventions. Lynette serves on the Board of Directors of the University of California at San Diego Mindfulness Center's Professional Training Institute. They are both Buddhist faith leaders in the Zen & Secular traditions.
Their book, Mindfulness Starts Here: An 8-week guide to skillful living, is available at local bookstores (Singing Pebble & Books on Beechwood) and they will be available for a book-signing after the talk. (Copies will also be available at the talk.)
November 13th, 2013
Mindfulness research with painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy
Dr. Howard Nathan provided a very informative presentation about his research on the benefits of mindfulness for patients with painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy. We learnt about how pain whether originating from a physiological or psychological condition can be managed through the practice of mindfulness. Howard was looking for feedback on what may prevent significant results in mindfulness research, which led to a great discussion about the difference between MBI and MBSR programs.
Howard is looking for MBSR teachers who are willing to take research participants into their groups. If you are interested please send us an e-mail and we will connect you with Howard.
October 15th, 2013
Mindfulness-based programs at the Royal Ottawa
We had a great meeting this month with guest speaker, Cathy Mclean. This meeting focused on the development and delivery of a four-week mindfulness-based program for the medical staff of the RO. Cathy shared with us current research on the benefits of shorter mindfulness interventions, the outline of the program at the RO, and feedback from participants on how this program works for them. The atmosphere was fantastic during the meeting as the whole group engaged in a rich conversation. We talked about participants’ homework compliance, informal vs. formal practice, and the successes and challenges of their mindfulness programming. It was great to hear about everyone’s perspectives and to truly learn from one another’s individual experience. Thanks again to Cathy for sharing her program and we are looking forward to her updates in the spring. We all left the meeting “by reaffirming ?” reaffirmed in the benefits of mindfulness and inspired to continue our work! This meeting allowed us to reaffirm the benefits of mindfulness and get inspired to continue our work!
September 9th, 2013
Treating Psychosis Through Mindfulness
Dr. Nicola Wright delivered a captivating presentation on mindfulness for psychosis. She shared her expertise and years of knowledge on how she facilitates a journey of recovery for individuals who experience psychosis. The presentation was based on the causes of the onset of this disorder, symptoms, and treatment modalities. She incorporated in her presentation concepts of acceptance and commitment therapy, mindfulness and compassion-focused approaches. Dr. Wright invited participants to think about how these interventions can be tailored to this client population and taught in a manner that promotes self-compassion, value-based actions, and self-awareness. Dr. Wright and her colleagues have published: Treating Psychosis: A Clinician’s Guide to Compassion, Acceptance, and Mindfulness-Based Approaches within the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Tradition.
May 13th, 2013
Exploring the Concept of Compassion
At our May meeting we explored the concept of compassion. Together we viewed a two-part video series by Tara Brach that explored the foundational elements of true compassion which may superficially appear to share some commonalities with having pity for others but is indeed entirely different. Compassion is not hierarchical and does not separate 'us' who are privileged and 'them' who are not. Suffering is a universal experience and being able to empathize with another's suffering is the essence of compassion. Being able to hold another's pain and to be with them in their suffering is a primary goal of mindful practice.
The teachings offered by Tara generated much discussion around our work as clinician's and educators in working with others. Participants for the evening were varied in their levels of experience as clinician's and mindful practitioner's which allowed for much sharing of wisdom between all members. It is in this sharing between all of us that much can be learned and opportunities for growth are actualized.
We finished the meeting with a twenty minute guided meditation by Dr. Kathy Neff on self-compassion. This meditation allowed us to practice together as a community and provided a space to touch our own limitations while offering ourselves compassion and love. By valuing ourselves we are then able to offer genuine compassion to others. Without self-compassion, we are challenged to find the necessary strength to understand and genuinely sit with another's suffering.
April 08, 2013
Investigating Mindfulness from the Buddhist and Western Perspective
Angela Sumegi, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Religion in the College of the Humanities at Carleton University and also teaches Buddhist meditation at the Ottawa Palyul Centre. Angela shared her experience and ideas with us on mindfulness from the Buddhist perspective and led us in a thought provoking discussion exploring mindfulness in both Western and Buddhist contexts.
What is mindfulness in the Buddhist context? Angela highlighted that the 4 foundations or areas we focus our attention in Buddhist meditation include the Body (i.e., the breath), Sensations (i.e., feelings), Mental State (i.e., boredom, sadness), and Contents (our thoughts).
We explored thepurposeof mindfulness in both traditions. In the Western tradition, the purpose seems to be around enhancing one's wellbeing, reducing emotional suffering/pain, and encouraging the idea of being present. In the Buddhist tradition, the purpose may be devotion, re-birth, enlightenment, renunciation and motivation. Angela suggested we explore renunciation, where one turns away from (their pain or suffering for example) or 'to be done with it'. Here one lets go of their mental states that are not helpful and one recognizes that suffering is a misrepresentation of reality. The second emphasis was placed on motivation, where in Buddhism, one's self care must be for the benefit of others, in other words, one's attempts to being well puts wellness into the world.
Angela reminded us that mindfulness cannot just be about the 'technique', it's also about our mind being at ease and being mindful of the way things are. She stated that "wellbeing is like the ocean, in that it is always there".
Jennifer Capiral, Mindfulness Ottawa Professional Community Member
March 11, 2013
Teaching as a Practice
Melodie Benger, MA, an experienced and insightful educator, talked about her journey with mindfulness, the changes that it brought to her life and the importance of teaching from our own meditation practice.
She invited us to think about our meditation practice and the skills we need to become proficient mindfulness teachers. Her dynamic and authentic presence allowed us to reflect on best practices for teaching mindfulness. She spent some time talking about the importance of doing the intake interview, highlighting concern about addictions and suicidal tendencies. Melodie also mentioned that session three and four of the MBSR program is often the most difficult for participants. During this time people come to realize their habitual patterns and they face the difficult challenge of change. She has also addressed how to cultivate compassion and mindful attitudes in clients.
Her humour and the short passages she read from a variety of books contextualized the art of teaching mindfulness. We appreciated her genuine approach to teaching and her reminder that we are life-long learners and mindfulness practitioners.
Sonia Tanguay, Mindfulness Ottawa Professional Community Member
February 11, 2013
Challenges Associated with Running Mindfulness-Based Intervention Programs
More than 20 members of Ottawa Mindfulness gathered for our monthly meeting which was a facilitated discussion about the challenges and successes associated with running mindfulness-based courses. It
was a hearty discussion that looked at various elements of running these groups including strategies around marketing programs, how to screen potential participants to ensure they are ready to meet the personal demands associated with ‘being’ part of a mindfulness course and how to manage difficulties related to participants not meeting homework expectations. The mix of seasoned and novice mindfulness practitioners contributing to the discussion allowed much learning and sharing for ongoing growth of Mindfulness Ottawa members.
Jan 14, 2013
Mindfulness in Psychotherapy
Dr. Kim Sogge presented on the topic of "Mindfulness in Psychotherapy" and provided the group with an overview of the history and development of third-wave therapies. She suggested in her presentation “that mindfulness-based therapies in the cognitive behavioral tradition move beyond changing the form of cognitions that drive maladaptive patterns of thought, emotion, and action. These third wave psychotherapies fundamentally transform the function of automatic patterns by shifting their relational contexts, resulting in greater psychological flexibility and opportunities for reconnection with values-based committed actions”. Her focus was on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and she drew clear parallels between fundamental Buddhist tenets and the foundations of this therapeutic method. Community members (21) were not only engaged in a lively discussion but also had the pleasure of witnessing the demonstration of the Tug of War ACT technique.
Nov 21, 2012
The Mindfulness Ottawa Professional Community’s Inaugural Meeting
The inaugural meeting was a wonderful success and very well attended, in fact the meeting organizers, Zsuzsanna Grandpierre and Michelle Foulkes, had to find a larger room to accommodate the enthusiastic and overwhelming response. Many of the members at the meeting expressed gratitude for the creation of this community, as well as curiosity and openness to how this community could grow and develop. There was such richness and diversity in the room– from nursing backgrounds, to occupational health, to addictions counsellors, to educators, to therapists, to students.
Dr. Lee Freedman came all the way from Toronto, to tell us about the formation of Mindfulness Toronto, and how their community has grown. Their meetings offer a variety of topics, time for meditation and mindfulness practice, as well as discussion and information sharing. Lee led us all in a short meditation which set the tone for our next presenter, Dr. Lynette Monteiro who spoke about her work at the Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic and gave a powerful and inspiring talk on “Laying Down the Path to Compassionate Community.”
Zsuzsanna and Michelle encouraged us to be active participants in this community, to feel free to share information, our thoughts and practice of mindfulness, using the newly created social media site at www.mindfulnessottawa.ning.com. Please email us if you have suggestions and are interested in helping with one of the committees.
Jennifer Capiral, Mindfulness Ottawa Professional Community Member