Choden is Back.. Time for Compassion!

Dear all,

Choden is out of retreat this month, after one year, and I am very much looking forward to re-connecting with him and finding out about his experience on retreat. Also, I am very much looking forward to working with him again, as I have missed him this year.

Choden is the expert behind our Compassion training, now renamed Mindfulness Level 2: Responding with Compassion. He has worked extensively with Prof. Paul Gilbert, a world expert in Compassion in psychotherapy, in the context of evolutionary psychology. They have delivered many Mindful Compassion trainings together and co-wrote the book Mindful Compassion, which is an excellent book and I highly recommend!

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Choden will be delivering our Compassion training at Samye Ling next year, over one weekend and a five day retreat. An excellent opportunity to train with an expert Compassion practitioner! Our Compassion training is a follow on program for those who have completed the Level 1 Mindfulness training.  The training draws on certain wisdom resources, in particular it draws on Evolutionary Psychology, Neuroscience and Mahayana Buddhism and is considered transformative by those who have done the training. It is a secular training, based in our experience of progressive Compassion meditation practices. (For more details see: http://www.mindfulnessassociation.net/Courses2b.aspx).

The working definition of Compassion that we use in the training and which is attributed to the Dalai Lama is ‘A sensitivity to the suffering of ourselves and others, with a deep desire to relieve that suffering’. We need more of this in our society to help to heal the mental anguish of so many who are struggling to flourish.

The main focus for the first part of our Compassion training is self-compassion. This is because in our culture, while we are often quite kind to others, we tend to be quite hard on ourselves. We might talk to ourselves in a critical voice and focus constantly on all the things that we think are wrong with us and all of our mistakes, which of course makes us miserable. This misses out all of the things that are right with us and all of the things we do well. As John Kabat-Zinn, who established secular mindfulness in the US, says:

‘So long as we are breathing there is more right with us than wrong with us’ 

and if you are reading this, then you are breathing! The founder of the Mindfulness Association, Rob Nairn, goes further than this and tells us that there is

‘Nothing Wrong’

with us.

Rob’s teachings show us that the human condition is not one of perfection and instead he tell us that we are all a bit (or a lot) of a neurotic mess. Once we recognise this, we can become compassionate towards our internal messiness, instead of striving for an unrealistic perfect version of ourselves and beating ourselves up when we don’t achieve it. The result of self-compassion training is a more happy easy going person – and who doesn’t want to be happier? It is notable on the video testimonials, which will soon go live on our new website, that almost everyone talks about the transformative power of Compassion that results from the Mindfulness Association’s trainings.

Choden and I are both working together on the Compassion Based Living Course (CBLC) retreat in January next year, which is a teacher training, for those who want to learn to deliver our 8 week CBLC course. Again, a wonderful opportunity to learn from our Compassion teaching expert, how to teach Compassion. So for those of you who are already trained to teach Mindfulness and who have done the Compassion training, this is an excellent opportunity to learn how to share the transformative power of Compassion with others (For more details see: http://www.mindfulnessassociation.net/CBLC.aspx).

Before Choden went into retreat, we wrote a book together, which is a self-help version of the MA’s Mindfulness Based Living Course (MBLC). This book, is accompanied by a CD of the MBLC guided practices and the idea is that people reading the book, take themselves through the course week by week, following the instructions and teachings in the book and the guided practices on the CD. A distinctive characteristic of our MBLC course, as compared to other Mindfulness approaches is the emphasis from the beginning on developing kindness and compassion. This book will be published towards the end of this year. We have the proofs, which I hope Choden will approve of! Hopefully, the book will be of benefit to many people who cannot make it to an MBLC course and hopefully it will inspire people to take their Mindfulness and Compassion practice further.

I also hope that Choden likes the new MA website, which will be launched at the end of this month – all being well. Jane and I have been working hard on this over the last year or so. It has been beautifully graphically designed and our IT guru Charles Lomas is working very hard to put all the pieces together to get it ready by the end of the month. We will tell our loyal members first when the website is up and running and hopefully, they will be able to help us smooth out any glitches. As well as being beautiful, it is designed to work efficiently on mobile devices as well as on tablets, laptops and desk top computers. There are many resources available on the website, including videos of Rob Nairn’s talks, videos of conference key note speeches and a comprehensive audio archive of Rob’s talks to accompany the different trainings that we offer. I am looking forward to being able to listen to these on my phone as I am travelling around – how cool is that going to be!

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There are also videos of your MA tutor team talking about the different trainings we offer. Jane videoed us all at Samye Ling in early September and it was a very strange experience speaking to a camera, rather than a group! We struggled a bit with that, but Jane has skilfully edited us and so the results are pretty good. While I don’t mind listening to audio recordings of my teachings and guided practises, I squirm at having to watch a video of myself. That’s OK, so long as the videos are useful in communicating the essence of the different trainings the MA offers.

You can have a sneak preview by viewing our YouTube Channel by clicking this link – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG7euc9ON2PH8Ws_1Sux0Qg

So, if you are hard on yourself and would like to learn to be a bit kinder to yourself, now is your chance! Choden is back! Time for Compassion!

-Heather Regan Addis
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