by Ramsey Margolis
The year 2017 felt like a really good one for One Mindful Breath. A warm and friendly bunch of people turned up on a Wednesday, we experimented with meeting formats, ran courses and a couple of daylongs. We thrived as a community. This year we’re planning more of the same and will throw a few new things into the mix.
Last year we started each month with a session for newbies, calling it ‘Beginner’s Mind’.
Despite having 700+ people in our Meetup group who told us they were keen to meditate, very few complete beginners ever showed up so we adapted the first Wednesday to appeal to people who’d tried meditation but hadn’t managed to make a habit of the practice; unsuccessful meditators, as it were.
The community’s care committee talked at length about the kind of programme we might offer in 2018, wanting to better engage more of our existing community along with an expectation of welcoming a few new faces, though wanting not to stretch too far the small number of us who put in most of the effort. So this year we’ve structured each month to start with a Beginner’s Mind session and then go deeper into the practices and ideas of a secular dharma as our month of Wednesdays develops.
Here’s what we’ll be offering during 2018:
1st Weds – Beginners’ mind (for those who’ve never meditated, and people who tried but gave up and want to give it another go), to include some of the ethical aspects that make secular Buddhism meditation practice different from plain vanilla mindfulness.
2nd Weds – An open awareness meditation session, followed by reflection, journalling, and then an opportunity to discuss what happened when we meditated.
3rd Weds – A short meditation will be followed by a talk from someone from outside the group, more often than not overseas; this month, Bernat Font on social media, Zooming in from Barcelona, and in the months that follow we’ll have Bernd Kaponig from Vienna, Martine and Stephen Batchelor (separately) France, Anna Markey from South Australia, and Jonathan Wood from Brisbane, while in May our very own Jan Rivers will offer some thoughts on non-Buddhist meditation practices. We’re trying to line up someone really special for December – Santa Claus [that’s a joke, we actually stopped believing in Santa Claus a few decades ago... well, most of us did ... I suppose].
4th Weds – A secular Buddhist study session. We’d like everyone to listen a recorded talk before they come, and on the evening we’ll work our way through a series of questions. We’re trialling this in January and then running an eight-part series from February through September. Don’t be surprised to be asked to facilitate a 4th Wednesday.
5th Weds – This year January, May, August and October each have five Wednesdays, so please bring food and drink to share for a potluck, it’s an opportunity for all of us to develop deeper connections, create community, and simply be convivial. We’ll start with a guided meditation.
As well as Wednesday evenings, we will be offering a range of one-day and two-day workshops. Derek is offering four one-day silent meditation retreats at the Home of Compassion on Sundays 6 May, 1 July, 19 August, and 14 October, and Ramsey is planning to offer a daylong for reflective meditation practitioners.
Also, Ramsey will be co-teaching a three-day residential retreat at Te Moata with U.S. teacher Linda Modaro titled Reflective Meditation – Mindful, Creative, Secular. Te Moata is a beautiful retreat centre in the Coromandel, and from this beginning of this year, Mark Sweeney, a long-time but occasional attendee at One Mindful Breath sessions will be living and working there.
So, this year you have a greater opportunity to pick and choose from a range of One Mindful Breath activities. You may wish to come along to just the study session, you may wish to attend the daylong retreats or you may like to drop in and experience the reflection, journalling and discussion process. Whatever you do, please give us feedback – talk with one of our care committee members.