‘All real living is meeting…’
In August, I will be offering an Interpersonal Mindfulness (IM) eight-week course with The Mindfulness Project and in September a workshop for The Mindfulness Network. The course is for anyone interested in extending their mindfulness practice into their wider relational lives, and the workshop is for mindfulness teachers and those, who work on a one-to-one basis or in facilitating groups, to refine their professional practice. Both offerings are grounded in the meditative practice of Insight Dialogue.
I first encountered Insight Dialogue (ID) in 2006 and experienced a quickening of my practice. Since this initial, and potent, encounter, I have been recognized as an ID retreat teacher and IM teacher. Teaching relational meditation is a central part of my working life. Immersing myself in ID has supported me in developing heightened levels of attunement, sensitivity, empathy and insight as well as a capacity for a more grounded and steady presence in relationships. I experience an ongoing deepening in my relationships, both personally and professionally.
To be is to be in relationship. We exist within a complex web of interconnected relationships. Our potential for relational depth and intimacy is equal to our experience of isolation, stress and suffering. At times, our solitary meditation practice can feel like a welcome refuge from the complexity and challenge of our relational lives. At other times we are in solitude, yet in relationship with others, re-hashing conversations, moments of connection and disconnection, in our minds. Relationships are central to our lives whether we are with people or not.
In Insight Dialogue practice, we extend the potential for calm, concentration and insight, central to the sphere of silent meditation, into the interpersonal. As in mindfulness-based approaches, we are not adding anything to ourselves, but more drawing forth our latent capacities. We access these capacities through dialogue with others, supported by six meditative guidelines. These guidelines could be described as mechanisms for attuning awareness. We meet in dialogue together. Our sensitive human body-minds ripple with sensation in response to the presence of another. We Pause… We sense and feel, perceiving what is happening, accessing the data output of thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations. We allow our fundamental relational sensitivity to become an asset rather than a hindrance. If reactivity, born from habit, arises, we pause and know this. We Relax, receiving the experience, inviting a quality of allowing, that enlarges our capacity to be with experience, whether pleasant or unpleasant. We Open, aware of our experience internally, and externally – the presence of another, the sights, the sounds. We open to both simultaneously – to the relational field. We notice the tendency of the mind, in the face of uncertainty, habitually wanting to control the situation by moving into social conversation or reactivity. We choose to pause, to rest in presence. We wait, Attuning to Emergence, knowing, that whatever arises, can be met with kindness and interest. We Listen Deeply, with the whole body, and Speak The Truth, from here.
The dialogues, include carefully selected topics, contemplations, that support a deepening in wisdom, insight and understanding. Contemplating together, we sharpen our innate capacities for mindfulness, for investigating our experience with curiosity, for generating energy, calm and concentration. We allow our relational practice to support us in waking up, together. We consciously cultivate presence in relationship. We learn to rest in awareness, in the midst of contact with another. In this way, we are more able to recognise the choices we have about the ways in which we conduct ourselves. We can choose to reduce relational stress and reactivity by consciously responding, rather than habitually reacting. The quality of sensitivity, born from attending mindfully, to moment-to-moment embodied experience, brings into being authentic and potent presence. We abide in not-knowing, in simple contact with ourselves and with the other.
In the dynamism of relationship, in the joys and the challenges, there is rich potential for ever-deepening insight and relational intimacy. The practice of Insight Dialogue allows us to tap into this and to relate in ways that enrich life, both personally and professionally. It would be wonderful to be with you in exploring this together.