October 2017 workshop in Guelph

Sunday October 22, 2017 | 1:00pm-4:00pm
Living Yoga & Health, 102 Wyndham St. N., Guelph

Treat yourself to an afternoon of quiet contemplation. This workshop will alternate between movement and stillness, combining Hanna Somatic Education with periods of seated meditation. Instead of struggling to seat ourselves in traditional meditation postures, we will unwind and release both physical and mental tension through slow and subtle movements, allowing a calmness to arise that will naturally deepen concentration and awareness.

Cost: $45 +HST
For more information or to register, visit livingyoga.ca or email info@livingyoga.ca

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NEW location for Tuesday evening sessions

Be Still Posters February 2017 v1 RGBJanuary 2017 marks the beginning of our fourth year of the Just Sit! Tuesday evening weekly guided meditation sessions! Thank you to everyone who has come to sit over the years. It has been deeply meaningful to me to offer space for meditators, of any (or no particular) spiritual tradition, to come together and sit in stillness.

Beginning with the February 7th sit, the sessions are moving over to 10 Carden. This exciting move will mean a more public venue and, if all goes well, we will move with 10 Carden to their new location later this year, currently under renovation at 42 Carden Street. The new location will be fully accessible!

Another change for our group is the addition of Jennifer Storey as a meditation leader. Jennifer will now be the regular lead on Tuesday evenings, as the distance to my new hometown has finally proven too much for a commitment to the weekly sits. I remain involved with the group, helping with administrative details, and I look forward to sitting whenever I do make the trip to Guelph.

If you live in the Niagara region, or know someone down here who would be interested, I am delighted to be leading regular meditations in Grimbsy (Wednesdays) and Port Colborne (Mondays) at the beautiful studios of Yoga Truly. New weekly drop-in sessions will begin in the first week of February.

For any questions about the Guelph, Grimbsy or Port Colborne sessions, feel free to email me at meditate@gentlydownthestream.org.

With best wishes for a peaceful 2017,
Heather

 

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Who would you be without your name?

Are you familiar with Byron Katie? She teaches a four-question method of inquiry for exploring and releasing yourself from suffering. She calls it The Work.

She came on my radar sometime in the past two years and although I haven’t read any of her books (yet), I have casually engaged with the free materials available on her website. And I have been listening to her podcasts and watching videos.

Fundamentally, to paraphrase what I hear Katie saying over and over in different ways is: ‘Did you ever notice that it’s not the world that causes your suffering? It’s your thoughts about the world. And that distinction means the end of suffering.’

And to quote her directly: “I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”

Katie’s approach when she sits and talks with people is to directly engage with where they are at, with their specific thoughts, feelings and beliefs. I imagine it’s much like it is said that the Buddha taught: in direct response to specific suffering. As she guides individuals through the simple steps of The Work, its beauty and wisdom are revealed in the application of that inquiry. And she invites anyone to try it. To look clearly at what is going on in your direct experience, and to consider alternative interpretations.

So, since there isn’t an overall doctrine (in fact The Work functions to question ALL beliefs), I have struggled a little with what would be most useful to re-blog here. But while listening to a podcasted interview today, my mind was blown when Katie explained how she uses her method of inquiry to explore the most essential question: ‘Who am I?’ So I thought, why not go right to the deep end, I’ll write and re-blog about what excites me!

What she explores (very briefly at 30:50 minutes) that got me excited is: ‘Am I my name?’ If you’re already familiar with teachings on the selflessness of persons and phenomena — what is called ’emptiness’ in Buddhist traditions — you might really enjoy this fresh and direct approach.

If you want to play along at home, and engage in a little inquiry into your true nature, here are the four questions of The Work for you to apply to that one fundamental belief: I am [insert your name].

1. Is it true?

2. Can I absolutely know that it is true?

3. How do I react — what happens — when I believe that thought?

4. Who would I be without the thought?

The best way of engaging here is to be still and ask your heart. Sometimes you might take time to sit in meditation with the questions, and you might also gently inquire throughout your day whenever you notice the thought comes up.

There are other steps to engage fully with the process, such as filling in the Judge-Your-Neighbour-Worksheet and Finding the Turnarounds. If your interest is piqued, I recommend exploring the podcasts and videos where Katie works directly with people. That way you get a taste for how The Work works and how to work it (couldn’t help myself there). And you might see your own suffering and gain wisdom from hearing other people question their beliefs.

Everything you need to Do The Work is available for free.

Q_BurdenNeverLifeNEW

 

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Sitting through March

We’ve added more dates, continuous now through the end of March 2015, for the “Just Sit!” sessions on Tuesday evenings. (Please check back monthly for future dates.) These guided meditations are open to any and every one. All levels of experience and all faith or no faith backgrounds are welcome. Just Sit! is an opportunity to sit with others in contemplation and meditation, whether you are just learning how to meditate or have been at it for years.

For those of you who haven’t come to sit — or haven’t come in a while — we are currently dividing the hour into three meditations, or, one mediation with three sections. However you slice it:

Part 1 — 15 mins on the breath, developing concentration and allowing our mind to settle by counting our exhalations (to 3 sets of 21 exhalations) and then simply sitting without counting for a little longer, deeply experiencing the breath.

Part 2 — 20 mins on allowing, noticing and meeting our direct experience with an embracing mind of love, coming back again and again and again to the direct experience of each moment, allowing, allowing, allowing…

Part 3 — 20 mins on ‘feeling into’ our basic nature: the awake, alert awareness in which direct experience is arising — that which is always already present. We turn our focus from the experiences, the thoughts, feelings, sensations and pay attention instead in each moment to the space in which the experiences are arising.

 

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Sky dancing

Thanks to my sweetie, Michael, and all the super-talented folks at Skydive Arizona, for making my first skydive a fantastic experience. What a thrill. So dream-like. I wish everyone could have the opportunity to fly like this.

Big, blue desert sky. Neat shot looking back up to the plane — I’m strapped to tandem master Josiah, and you can see Michael leaping out after us. Once we were under the parachute, enjoying the view, Josiah says: ‘Heather, welcome to my office!’ Lucky, lucky guy.

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Portrait stitching in Guelph

I’m soooo excited! UK-based performance artist Harriet Riddell is coming to stitch in Guelph this Saturday, December 6th. She’ll be setting up her sewing machine here in the What World Common Room (123 Woolwich Street, Second Floor, Guelph).

Be sure to call (647-231-8111) or email (riddell.arts@live.co.uk) this week to book an appointment if you want to be certain to sit for your portrait! Or take your chances by dropping by to check it out first. Bring your friends, bring your family, bring your dog. A stitched portrait is a great keepsake and totally unique Christmas gift.

Even if you’re too shy to sit, Harriet’s is a fascinating sort of performance art. She works stitching live subjects in real time. I always marvel at her easy manner and mad skillz. Come and see!

Guelph flyer

Previous GDS posts about Harriet: Has sewing machine, travels and Getting stitched at the Cabbagetown Festival

As a happy scheduling coincidence, on your way to see us, say hello to John at Earth Tones Studios, our new neighbour down the hall here on the second floor. Earth Tones is having an open studio this same day. John teaches workshops on how to make drums as well as percussion instruments, including found materials such as durable PVC plumbing pipe. He facilitates drumming circles and sound scapes for people of all ages who respond to the call and the dance of the drumbeat.

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Just eat real food, JERF

Of all the ways I have described how I’ve been eating the past few years, just eating real food, known as JERFing, is the closest fit. Are you surprised to hear that you might not be eating ‘real’ food? Curious? 17 simple ways to JERF is a great place to get a quick start.

I am by no means super strict about it, but I think I eat ‘real’ about 80 per cent of the time. One of my daily habits is a big green drink. It gets tons of vegetables into me without endless chewing. It’s super nutritious and makes a body feel great. As food is fuel, it’s a bit like putting premium gas in your car.

Pro tip: Once I established it as a habit, I switched from a starter juicer and invested in a pricey vitamix a couple of years ago and this, IMHO, has two big benefits: 1) pulp stays in for fibre-y goodness and 2) cleaning the machine is super simple.

This morning’s vitamixed mash up? By most to least quantity: water, spinach, kale, cucumber, ginger, apple, almonds.

mix it up

 

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Sitting at home

Do this! Quick and dirty instructions for starting a daily meditation practice at home — notes from last week’s whiteboard:

sitathome

Just Sit! at home:
1. Decide to practice daily
2. Create a space
3. Minimize distractions and interruptions
4. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes
5. Sit
6. Do not get up until the timer goes off

As to the details of #5, what to do when you’re sitting: breathe. Follow the breath with gentle, firm attention. Breathe in, breathe out. (Um, that link’s just a song I like, not further instructions.)

We’re sitting again Tuesday, 7-8pm.

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