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Gillian Sanger

Where do you go to practice mindfulness meditation?

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This week's question asks:

Where do you go to practice mindfulness meditation?

Many of us have a favourite place (or a couple favourite places) within which to practice mindfulness. This is an invitation to share a few words about what your practice space is like. Is it indoors or outdoors? What do you sit on (or move on if your practice is mindful movement)? What makes this space conducive of mindfulness practice? Feel free to share a photo here in this thread or in our gallery dedicated to this topic.

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My altar is in a part of my loft that is so special to me.  High ceilings, minimal visual distractions, lots of natural light, beautiful Brazilian cherry wood floors.  I have my statue of Tara, along with crystals, photos of my grandmother, myself as a child, and both of my own children, as well as a few candles and my sage stick.  I roll out my mat, set my cushion (or if my back is tight, stack 2 yoga blocks to kneel), and settle in.  It feels like a coming home.

That said, if and when I can, I also love to sit for meditation in nature- at the beach in the early morning or in the grass with trees nearby.  I am always aware of my proclivity toward grounding energy, so being outdoors really helps me access that.

I love this question!

Hope all are well.

Rachel

 

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Your loft sounds wonderfully dreamy, Rachel! And the personal items really help to build a beautiful picture in my mind.

My own space is pretty small at the moment (I live in a one-bedroom apartment with my two dogs and partner), but I long for a cozy meditation nook & altar one day. When I meditate, I use the living room. Sometimes I sit on a cushion, but I also have a beautiful meditation bench (from this company if anyone needs a recommendation!) that I use from time to time (when I do longer sits usually). I light a few candles and face our big open windows that get the morning sun (unless of course, it is winter... when the sun doesn't show its face here in Stockholm until around 9am).

I also love meditating in nature. There is a small forest not far from me. It is beautiful, but the hum of traffic is still pretty loud within it. But still, anytime I am in nature, I practice less formal mindfulness practices - watching, witnessing, breathing, being. 

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When it is warm outside I sit on the porch. I am up very early before it is dark and I move and meditate out there to the sounds of tree frogs, crickets, and barred owls. Fall is her and much cooler nights for the most part so i will be relegated to doing all inside. I sit on my chair that i always sit on to meditate with my mini dachshund sleeping beside me because usually if i am tare so is he. i do love being outside in the early morning and will miss it.

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It's nice to read about people's chosen spaces. I am fortunate to have an altar room and also a porch for formal practice. The window in the altar room looks out on trees and a mountainside. The porch looks out over the Great Salt Lake. It is very poignant: the mix of natural beauty and the constant ambient noise and pollution. Now the view from the porch is obscured by smoke from so many fires. There is the saddha or faith and confidence in the practice and in the certainty that society is heedless and bent on its own destruction. This poem that a teacher read at my last retreat, really speaks to me:

“Although the wind ...”

TRANSLATED BY JANE HIRSHFIELD
Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.

I try to bring Mindfulness to wherever this "ruined house" happens to stand, sit, walk, or lie down upon what is becoming this "ruined earth," at least ruined or soon to be ruined for much of mankind. Where I am most challenged is driving--too much in a hurry and easily angered by other drivers. As for formal sitting practice, I think I could do it just about anywhere. It's funny really that I have so much "like," "dislike," and "prefer things were different" while driving or reading the news but not when meditating. Sitting or discussing practice with others is so lovely, but otherwise relationships are challenging. People who I observe casually relating well to other people often seem completely unaware and unconcerned about the impact of their lifestyles on the earth and on many lives remote from their immediate attention or close relations.

May your practice be of great benefit to you all and to beings everywhere.

 

 

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That sounds like such a majestic and beautiful setting, David. I hope your house will be safe. I have seen the photos of SF and they are devastating. I know what you mean about people regarding the planet. Everything we do has an impact on nature and often wildlife or other animals as well as indigenous people or others without power. I live in Vermont and as I go for a morning walk I take in the sky, the mountain and the peacefulness of the pond and the beings who live on, in, or around  it when it is not frozen. I do not like the road I live in or at least when there are vehicles (long boring story). We are a very self centered species for the most part  and too many do not want to think about their impact for they would have to change what they do. Don't get me started but it is painful at times. I appreciate your sense of the planet. No matter what we do it has an effect but at least you try as well as I and many others.

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After I signed off I thought about how unmindful that  may have sounded but relationships with people are a challenge for me and as an online activist mostly for animals but many causes as well I see what people do to them, the planet and each other. It is a struggle. I could feel the mindfulness leaders shaking their heads in dismay.

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Thanks, Faune. I think your thoughts were beautiful. In Buddhist circles the Sangha offers a refuge for likeminded people or is supposed to do that. I think this website serves a very similar function. 

It made me feel very connected to you reading your post. Grieving for the planet and its denizens is not inconsistent with mindfulness. Having emotions of fear, hurt, sadness and anger are not either. At least that is my understanding. In fact, opening to those emotions, allowing them to run their course, and deeply attuning to them and directly knowing them is very much what mindfulness is about. Everything is included!  So, judgmental thoughts also might arise and we can be mindful of them. The question that should concern mindfulness leaders is how we train and learn to hold those things and respond to them. I am heartbroken and angry many moments of every day, but there also are many moments when I am joyful and filled with appreciation and awe, as you seem to be too. It doesn't require anything special; simply following a breath (mindfulness of the body) can be awesome. At age 69, I'm still working at how to respond and act appropriately! I tend to work more on attitude and perspective, aspiring to be open and inclusive, hoping (or rationalizing) improved behavior will follow in tow. Thanks, again.

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Hi David,

I am 68 and still striving for peace  and how to get along in the world. Thank you for your thoughts. I do feel grief and anger as I walk along the road and find dead news and frogs and baby turtles in late Aug. and early SEpt. I move the live ones but curse the invasion of people  who kill them even if unknowingly. Trust me I am emotional and express it every day. In fact I nave to go in a few minutes for the nightly rescue. I only hope they will be turning in for the winter soon. I too go through many moments of different moods and emotions. The anger and frustration for where I chose to live is my greatest challenge and it is really blocking so much. Anyway, it is indeed time for me and my small dog who would rather sleep to do our nightly walk before it gets too cool and dark. It is 5:49 here. I really appreciate your thoughts and your respect for nature and animals. This is all apart of my vegan life-do as little harm as possible.

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Faune and David, I love the images you've presented here - Faune, you on your porch with your little one and David, both the view from the altar room. I am saddened to hear that your porch view is overwhelmed by smoke of the fires. My heart goes out to you and to all those affected in your part of the world (and everyone else that is seeing signs of Mother Earth crying out... which is, perhaps, everyone).

I also very much agree with this:

16 hours ago, David Weiskopf said:

Grieving for the planet and its denizens is not inconsistent with mindfulness. Having emotions of fear, hurt, sadness and anger are not either. At least that is my understanding. In fact, opening to those emotions, allowing them to run their course, and deeply attuning to them and directly knowing them is very much what mindfulness is about.

There is often a misperception that to be mindful or to be 'spiritual' means being unaffected by the world. But as you've said, I really think true presence comes from allowing everything to be as it is within us - and also being aware of what we do with what has arisen for us. Emotions are tricky, which is why this is a life long process (one that becomes more embodied overtime).

Also, the poem you shared brought this one to mind. I'm not sure if I've shared it in the community before or if you've encountered it, but I really find great peace these words (and many of Wendell Berry's works):

https://onbeing.org/poetry/the-peace-of-wild-things/

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I liked the Wendell Berry poem. Thanks. Even my relationship with nature is conflicted, although awe and connectedness prevail. As at-home as nature can make me feel, nature can be inhospitable and cruel too. Our bodies also have this nature. From the perspective of the subjective "I," they too will betray us if they do not fall prey before that. Yes, emotions are tricky. I think a big part of my practice relates to feelings of betrayal. It is the nature of things, even beautiful things, to be treacherous and sometimes betray us. (This relates back to our discussion of death and terror management, Gillian).

As I write this, it strikes me that its lurking and powerful danger is part of nature's beauty. Even its slow, creeping danger has its beauty. As I age, so many hot and searing sensations arise in my head, shoulders, neck, and extremities. Sleep is harder to come by, so I often lie awake taking inventory of the vibrant energies. Then they all seem to transform into light. What before seemed disruptive and painful turns peaceful and soothing. I often wonder, "Can even dying become something like that?"

That question has served to bring up two important things for my practice, and I would love to learn what others think about this. The first amounts to: "I see you, Fear," sometimes even "Terror." I understand I must practice attuning to those emotions, opening to them, and welcoming them. Almost counterintuitively, doing so starts unblocking my very blocked heart so that there is more kindness, warmth and compassion. So, yes, there can be beauty even in Fear.

The second thing has to do with the perspective to which I alluded about driving. It is the very opposite of opening and welcoming. Rather, it is contracting around the crazy notion that somehow "I" am separate from the ebb and flow of natural rhythms and "I" am somehow special, deserving, and entitled. "How dare you let down my expectations!" That dualistic and prideful notion is simply crazy and it calls for a change in perspective which has to be a part of our mindfulness training and practice. I do not take this to mean I should become passive and submissive or withdrawn at all. It's more like aspiring to be more integrated and informed, "wiser" perhaps I could say. If I laid in bed thinking, "Oh, my God, why do I hurt so much," I am sure I would feel only more pain and anguish.

Sorry about writing a book here, but there is one more thing I would like to bring up and that is Mindfulness often places too much emphasis on presence and not enough on Concentration which has such great bearing on the quality and depth of presence. To me, formal practice is as much about developing concentration as it is developing mindfulness. Without developing the stability of spacious, peaceful, and joyful awareness, it is not likely one could attend well to troubling emotions. It is only natural that one's heart and mind would contract and guard against them. This tendency is something to which we also have to be kind and accepting in our practice. The more our Mindfulness and Concentration create a safe and spacious home for us, the more room there will be to greet and welcome what otherwise would be troubling and challenging emotions.

 

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Thanks for sharing all of this David! What stood out to me was this feeling of being special and deserving. I can definitely relate to that when things aren't going 'my way'. In these moments, it's as though we're no longer an integral part of the world but that we are a central figure and the world is happening 'to' us. Great reminder to be mindful of this!

I also appreciate you bringing up the power and necessity of concentration. I agree that the stability of focus goes hand in hand with our ability to be present to uncomfortable emotions, rather than trying to push them away or becoming consumed by them.

 

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