Two weeks ago I posted about the Breathworks Mindfulness teacher training I was about to embark on (here) and how mindfulness is enabling me to align my needs with my aspirations. I had the most wonderful time on retreat. We had a week of sunshine and inspiring training at Vajrasana. As I’d hoped, my practice most certainly was my protector.
The schedule was intense; sessions of teaching demonstration and practise, meditation guidance and enquiry, mindful movement and peer supervision groups formed the basis of the timetable. The gentle voice of my teacher saying, “be kind to yourself, Laura”, was never far away as I approached the timetable as an opportunity rather than a fixed expectation. I paced myself through sessions. I made best use of the breaks. I took time out for self-care. I was showing the awareness and self-compassion that we were learning to teach others. When I gave a practise lesson on pacing, it felt completely natural. It’s not a concept to me, it’s my life. My self-kindness was met by the kindness of others. The students and trainers I spent the week with gently supported me, setting up mats, passing cushions, making tea, and fully accepting the different ways I have to go about doing things. Kindness, warmth and compassion underlies the Breathworks approach and during the retreat we experienced it in action.
I found myself volunteering to guide the first practise meditation of my little group. As I guided eight of us through the body scan there was a noticeable shift of energy in the room – grounded, settled, still. I was sharing my own practice, guiding from the heart. It’s a meditation I will always remember and it affirmed for me what I was setting out to do and that I could do it. I stepped out of my comfort zone when I signed up to teach mindful movement. Would my body go into paralysis or spasm, or would I find myself pushing through a hard edge of pain in order to teach, ignoring my own body’s cries? I needn’t have worried. I tuned into my body as we explored the movements and enjoyed the challenge of learning to teach in such a different way. As the week progressed I found myself increasingly able to make creative choices, to consider different possibilities and to be flexible in my approach.
I was once again struck by the retreat community and how thirty-five people could arrive as strangers and depart a week later as old friends. Even the participants I didn’t directly speak to I felt I knew, their presence became known and familiar. In our enquiry groups we practised the art of transformative listening and this sensitivity spread through the community, enveloping us in empathy and care. There was eye contact, smiles, hugs and tears. Laughter and stories were shared over meals. Even during our periods of silence there was a gentle communication. On our final evening we sat in a huge circle around the meditation hall, where we were asked to share the qualities we would like to take home with us; kindness, openness and connectedness.
I came to realise that in many ways I already am a mindfulness teacher. Whilst I am looking forward to my continuing Breathworks journey, I am also excited to explore the many other ways I can spread the ripples of mindfulness, including right here on this blog. In the words of my trainer, “they say mindfulness is caught, not taught, and you’re just the kind of person people will catch it from.”
With love and thanks to all the people who shared the retreat with me.
Celebrating the completion of my introductory level training with my lovely trainer, Karen Hall.