Returning Home

By  Christine Convery
Category: October 2016

It's really good to have returned home after spending a whole week away on retreat. However, it's been my experience that when I'm on a meditation based retreat, it's like coming home during retreat too!

What do I mean by this? As a meditation teacher for many years, and practicing meditation in various ways, it's like coming home to my centre every time I meditate. This happens more frequently every time I meditate and in a more intense way while on retreat.

In coming home to my centre and being grounded, especially when practising mindfulness meditation, I feel so much bliss and contentment. My own success impels me to teach others how to realize their own bliss, joy, peace and contentment through this wonderful practice of meditation.

I'd like to share with you what I quickly learned, in that there are several crucial aspects for the success of this remarkably therapeutic process of grounding. They included:

Awareness and acceptance of whatever sensations accompanied the subjective experiences people were having, experiences such as feelings, thoughts, impulses, desires, memories, hopes and dreams.
The best results came from gently encouraging people to tell me what sensations they were having and where they were in their bodies. I would interrupt them to do this, even as they talked about whatever was troubling them. Examples of sensations included: hot or cold, tight or loose, flowing or stuck, painful or pleasant, dark or light, tingling or numb, noisy or quiet and sweet or sour. For example, "I feel a dull tightness in my chest and tingling in my arms and legs."
At the same time, while exploring such inner processes, I continually encouraged clients to remain physically aware of their surroundings. While they described their surroundings, I also encouraged them to remain aware of their inner sensations. It did not matter if this distracted them from what they had been discussing.
This dual awareness and its physical nature were the keys. It was clear that physical alertness to the inside and outside of the body worked together to bring about this incredible balance and resolution I was observing in the clients I was working with.

If you are familiar with mindfulness meditation, you will almost certainly recognize the similarities of some mindfulness practices with what I encouraged my clients to do. For, as with mindfulness, grounding requires that we notice our awareness, accept it and persistantly remain aware of it while allowing any changes to take their course as we do.

The Grounding Process:

In summary, physical awareness is essential. Grounding depends on our having combined physical awareness of:

  • Our bodily sensations
  • The physical situations and events occuring around us using our five senses and
  • Our inner and outer awareness at the same time.

While a natural process, paying attention physically to internal and external experiences is not always easy at first. We have learned not to do this, so most people need to learn and this takes persistence because it invloves changing old habits of awareness and perception.

So, when I'm practicing and teaching mindfulness meditation we always include this grounding process. It makes for a wonderful practice and we are then keen to continue with it daily!

   * On our first night at the Yarra Valley Living Centre, on our week long teachers training module 2, we had no power due to the cyclonic winds that occured in the Melbourne area. As this was a fully residential retreat as well, we were feeling the cold! Here we all are rugged up!! I really enjoyed the warm, soft light of the candles and torches. Ian Gawler was the presenter up the front and you can see me on the left, wearing a striped jumper and a pink padded vest; a colourful rug over my knees and legs! What fun we had !!!