Friday, October 23, 2009

2009 10 23. Friday.

Did something a little different in my morning meditation. After I do all my chanting, IAM technique and bhajans, I'll usually sit in silent mediation until breakfast. During the meditation, I'll almost always just watch my mind, focusing on relaxing and just watching the mind wander where it will. The "practice" I do is just staying relaxed and at ease no matter what the mind is doing; to not take my mind personally. Today I got the urge to count my breaths. So I got some beads and moved one bead every time I counted 27 breaths. (27 because that's 3 cubed and 9 times 3. In Sanatana Dharma, 3 and multiples of 3 are considered auspicious.) Felt good. The feeling was more like I was training the mind rather than just watching it. Both feel good, but training the mind in this way is something I haven't done in a while. Usually with these various mind training practices I'll do one as long as it feels enjoyable and authentic, and then move on the the next. But there are some basic things I try to do everyday like my Amma mantra, the 108 Names of Amma, the IAM technique, The Mahay Shasura Mardini, the Hanuman Chalisa, Amma Arati, etc.

Now that I think of it, the IAM technique involves quite a bit of mind training type activities; visualizations, focusing on the breath, etc.

This morning before lunch Nicolas, Rachel and I had the first meeting of our Communication Skills Group (CSG). It went well. The first part we discussed what we what to get out of the meetings and the 2nd part each of us got about 10 minutes to do a 'check-in'. That's where one person shares whatever they want and the other 2 people listen attentively. Gene Long and I did probably three hundred or more check-ins when I was his housemate for almost 3 years. Those check-ins really helped me get a deeper feeling for listening carefully and being compassionately present with another person. During the CSG check-in portion I felt the wonderful group feeling that's generated when we listen thoughtfully and compassionately to another person. I've felt this many times at all the meetings I went to that were organized by Gene, Mike Rios and some other groups in the DC area. It felt good when I shared and they both listened with empathetic attention. We plan to meet again on Tuesday morning. Before I left for India I told Gene that it would be interesting to have a group like this at the ashram. I didn't really think it would happen but now it is. Cool. Just for fun here is the list of group guidelines I wrote up and gave to Nicolas and Rachel. Most of these things I learned in dialog with Gene and at the group meetings he facilitated.

Guidelines and Ideas for Amma Ashram Conscious Dialog Meetings. (This is just a collection of ideas presented in no particular order.)

. All sharings are confidential.
. We can have some kind of opening prayer and reading.
. We try to take responsibility for our reactions and triggers. And we try to be aware of another's sensitivities in a clear way (not co-dependent or supporting a victim story).
. We support each other to speak the truth about ourselves.
. Acquiring and deepening mutual understanding will be a key process, especially at the beginning.
. Deep understanding takes time. Trust takes time. Deep emotional safety takes time.
. Emotional safety is the first priority. If anyone feels unsafe at any time they can interrupt and speak up.
. We are always at choice. No one is compelled to do anything that disturbs their emotional well being.
. Delayed reactions are OK and can be brought up for discussion at any time.
. We are encouraged to share commensurate with our feeling of emotional safety.
. We strive to use "I" statements.
. We are free to express our needs and make requests (not demands). We strive to be aware of authentic needs vs demands.
. Its OK to ask for what we need and to share our preferences.
. The meetings will likely evolve a lot in beginning with lots of course corrections.
. We avoid "fixing" unless requested.
. Having triggers and sensitivities is OK. We will respect each others triggers and sensitivities as we strive to shine the light of compassionate awareness on them.
. We strive to be present with our emotions and to share when we feel tight and shut down.
. Every group has their own chemistry that takes time to be understood and integrated. We can have an open attitude to how our group may naturally evolve.
. Within the group, we strive to maintain and improve our own well being and this will naturally contribute to the well being of the group.
. One of our guiding principles is "Do What Works". We strive to be practical and not rigidly confined to any philosophy or technique. We want the group feeling to be spontaneous and authentic.
. Conflicts and tension will naturally arise on occasion. We can strive to see them as opportunities for deeper self understanding and mutual understanding.
. We can be aware of triangulation (talking in an unclear way about another person in the group who is not present). "Don't tell me, tell them."
. What can we do during our time to share?
* Just want to vent? Do some emotional release?
* Want to be understood? i.e. questions welcome? Reflective listening.
* Want advice, suggestions?
* Some or all of the above?
. Ask before invite someone else to the meetings.
. Communicate first. Try to minimize surprises.

While he was here, one of the things Peter Ash emphasized to me about the compost piles was to make them drier and use more woodchips, especially with the wet food waste. I've been trying to do that and, as needed, I'll tell the helpers to use more woodchips. Well, for the past few days for some reason, one of the older Indian helpers has gotten defensive and reactive when I tell them to use more woodchips. This helper has been working at the compost area for about 4 months and is a long time good friend of Mukhunda. Later on I told Mukhunda about this and he said he understood my concern and he knows this person can be sensitive to taking direction. I told Mukhunda that however he wants to handle it is fine with me. I didn't want to tell the helper directly cause I got the clear feeling he would react in a negative way. More and more I'm learning that situations tend to take care of themselves. So more and more I'm trying to intervene as minimally as possible in these kind of situations. Here I felt some intervention was necessary. If the helpers can't follow my directions then we run the risk of making compost piles that don't process properly, smell bad and can spread disease.

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