This week, I completed an eight week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction [MBSR] course. For me, this marked a milestone in my mindfulness and meditation journey through the camaraderie of my fellow classmates. Today I explore how the MBSR course helped me, in the context of group learning.
Practicing mindfulness by myself for many years has at times seemed lonely. An MBSR course allowed me to listen to others’ experiences and to talk to others about my experiences. It was therapeutic and also amplified my practice by being more aware of my behavioural tendencies through the lens of a group. We can learn so much more about ourselves through other people, as if they are ‘holding up a mirror to us’ (as a mentor of mine once said of interacting with others).
What I really learnt these past eight weeks wasn’t anything wholly new. They were things that were long present within me, but it was almost as if aspects of myself were given a microphone to speak to my own awareness. Awareness of my behaviours and actions and the knock-on effect of interactions with others, were all amplified.
Whether through classmates or simply people in life, the humanity of others in relation to our own humanity – that interaction between humans – is like all of us being mirrors of each other. Aspects that we recognise, judge, condone with or are prejudiced against in others are all reflections/facets of ourselves. We can deem virtues of others as either those we possess in ourselves or wish to have. Our ‘negative’ views of others’ behaviours may also reflect our own capacity for such behaviour. If we think someone is behaving disgustingly, it is because we know if we behaved in such a way ourselves we would judge the behaviour as disgusting. It is within our capacity – whether we wish to behave in such a manner or not. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ are mere judgments.
It’s relieving and yet saddening to know we do not suffer alone in the toils of life amd that others suffer so similarly. Another person can describe a suffering that you identify with. It seems so personal and yet impersonal by default of a difficulty being your own trouble, but others identifying with your situation. Equally, it is nice when everyone can share a joke – one person is happy and shares their happiness with others as we all identify with the hilarity of the joke.
Through the mirrors of one another, we are able to learn, grow, laugh and cry together. We can collectively watch the waves of life’s experiences wash over each of us; whether one of us is on a high or another on a low, emotions and events will rise and fall. Ultimately, on a fundamental basis, each of us are so similar to the next – mirroring one another – a reflection, a reminder, of who we are at a given moment.
For UK, London-based folk, you can attend an eight week MBSR course and other mindfulness courses at The Mindfulness Project: https://www.londonmindful.com