Working with Courage

By Janet Solyntjes

Janet will be leading Mindful Living: Teachings and Practices from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), July 23-27

Janet Solyntjes

Janet Solyntjes

In my early years of meditation training I was unable to sit still for long, maybe five minutes, before I would shift my body with hopes of improving my practice. My body hurt, my mind was impossible, and I was crawling out of my skin much of the time. My practice revealed glimpses of “calm abiding” and “dignity,” but it was tough going!

My teachers reminded me that practice was a breeding ground for courage. Courage, I was told, becomes the seedbed for nurturing our deepest aspiration for a meaningful life and for a sane society. It takes courage to be present to the unknown, to touch what is frightening, to let go of what is familiar, and, once again, open. Now I remember to bring my heart to the cushion ~ how else will I cultivate bravery?

Three Minute Practice: The Courage of this Moment

Ask yourself this:

  • What would it take for me to fully inhabit the experience of being human right now?
  • Can I feel the sensations of my body?
  • Am I being tugged about by my internal narrator and not realizing it?
  • What am I really feeling in this moment?

After reading through the list of questions then do nothing. Simply be. After a while, go through the list of questions again. Now once again, simply be. After three minutes drop the exercise and proceed through your day.

Whatever you did during the three minutes required some level of courage (a willing and open heart) for it took you out of the habit of dis-attention into active self-reflection.

Janet will be leading Mindful Living: Teachings and Practices from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), July 23-27.  To learn more, please click here.

Freak Out! Or Not: An Interview with MBSR Teacher Janet Solyntjes

 

Janet Solyntjes

Janet Solyntjes

Janet Solyntjes will be leading Introduction to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, February 14-16

What does it feel like to FREAK OUT?! Becoming familiar with the early signs is the first step toward avoiding catastrophic fits of stress. Sound good? Learn more by checking out our recent interview with MBSR teacher Janet Solyntjes.

Watch the video or scroll down to stream/download the audio.

If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below.

Wholeness and Mindfulness

By Janet Solyntjes

JanetSolyntjesNearly everywhere one turns these days the language of “mindfulness” is to be found. Its ubiquitous influence is flavoring American culture. Because my professional life is part of the mindfulness movement, I have sensitivity towards noticing the numerous references to mindfulness that are popping up in the media. What I personally find inspiring is not the “Zen” or “mindful” references dotting our media world. What is heartening is the clear shift that happens in an individual and culture each time a person opens to unconditional goodness, wholeness, and worthiness. Can you feel something shifting? Are you curious about the transformative power of the increased number of people practicing mindfulness in America?

Jon Kabat-Zinn, the progenitor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, speaks of the healing power of the view and practice of entering wholeness:

When we glimpse our own completeness in the stillness of any moment, when we directly experience ourself as whole in that moment and also a part of a larger whole, a new and profound coming to terms with our problems and suffering begins to take place. We begin to see both ourselves and our problems differently, namely from a perspective of wholeness.

In this time of the spreading of mindfulness, where people in all areas and walks of life, crossing economic and cultural boundaries, are gravitating towards the beauty, power, and genuineness of living life one moment at a time, the need to cultivate a view of wholeness and completeness is paramount to individual and societal transformation. This leads me to my main point: Cultivating an unshakeable view of wholeness, worthiness, and goodness in our own heart requires periods of deep reflection and meditation to uproot wrong views and nourish faith in innate wholeness. It doesn’t happen automatically in our busy lives. It requires intention.

DSCN0186A penetrating question that poet Antonio Machado asks his readers in The Wind, One Brilliant Day has been haunting me for years: “What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?” When these words and associated images arise in my mind, I feel a deep longing for retreat practice. Utilizing the gardening metaphor, Maria Rodale offers comparisons between gardens and a human life:

You have to have a vision and Big Dreams.
You have to have patience.
You have to learn how to deal with things that are totally out of your control.
It’s hard to do it alone.
It’s good to be thankful.
Sometimes you have to let things go.
It’s all about love.

This November, Jim Colosi and I will be co-leading a 7-day Mindfulness Meditation Retreat at SMC. Our inspiration is to help teachers and aspiring teachers of MBSR and other mindfulness programs to refine the tools of “gardening” and to support the view of wholeness. Tending to one’s interior garden is the essential work of a group meditation retreat.

Support for the retreat from Saki Santorelli:

“The Mindfulness Meditation Retreat is designed to mirror and express the essential and universal approach of MBSR by fostering a rigorous retreat experience that is independent of any religious viewpoint. And because the themes, practice instructions, and outlook of the retreat are all rooted in the MBSR experience, there will be a natural continuity with our Oasis Institute MBSR teacher training curriculum and criteria. For this reason, and because of the longtime MBSR teaching experience of Jim and Janet, we at the Center for Mindfulness are happy to co-sponsor and endorse this retreat.”

We hope you join us!

Janet Solyntjes