About Me

We are the first and only location for the teaching and supporting mindful living in rural eastern Ontario and the only permanent Buddhist presence in Renfrew County. Founded in 2002, we have been offering high quality and original programming for our communities. We are a partnership of Red Maple Mindful Living, Padakun Whole Person Walking and The Red Maple Buddhist Sangha, an authorized branch of Tendai International and lead by Rev. Innen R. Parchelo, doshu, Canada's first Tendai priest.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

TIME FOR A BREAK

At the end of April we will be taking a break from programming at the Centre in Pembroke. Its been a mixed year of learning and practicing together. We’ve had some interesting workshops and tried a bunch of new things. It seems like we’ve pushed things as far as we can for now and its time for one of those proverbial plateaus.

We still have another 5 weeks left in the current Managing Chronic Conditions group and the dozen and a half folks who come out for that are finding their practices, each in their own way. I’m always impressed at how each group and its participants finds their own way and how mindfulness will express itself for them.


Once we finish up with that group, we’ll be taking a much deserved (I think - at least a welcome one) break from training and programs until September. There will be no new programs until then and this will also be our last post on this blog until the fall.
 

In the meanwhile, keep reading at our sister blogs:
  • The Red Maple Leaflet  
  • The Padakun Blog

Have a great summer,
yours , on purpose,                              
Ray
Mindful Living in Renfrew County ....What’s got your attention?



Friday, 3 April 2015

BEGINNING AND ENDING

This coming week will mark the final session for the CORE program we initiated this year and the start up of the Managing Chronic Condition program (MCCM), which is a re-working of the Change Your Mind (CYM) program we have been doing for over 10 years. Each group has its own purposes and character. The CORE group has been intimate and hard-working. The MCCM group will be larger and more practice focussed.
As I experiment with new and varied ways to provide instruction, I am learning the essentials for this kind of training. When I began, almost 30 years ago, I stuck very close to certain teaching and theoretical models, mostly what is called “mindfulness-based stress reduction”. In these years since then, I have run up against the clear limits of that approach and endeavored to introduce new elements drawn from other sources. Those who have done CYM will be familiar with our use of Constructive Living, for example. The curriculum continues to grow and change, and I think we have come a long way since the first programming. The result has been better and more rich programming for participants.

There are still a few spaces in the upcoming MCCM group and the later CYM group (scheduled for Wednesdays, starting April 29) has lots of space. If you would like to learn more or to register, contact me.               

Yours , on purpose,                               
Ray
Mindful Living in Renfrew County ....What’s got your attention?

Saturday, 21 March 2015

MINDFUL LIVING PROGRAMS IN APRIL

With Spring starting this week in the Upper Valley, we begin to anticipate running sap, blossoming of plants and flowing of frozen waterways. The other blossoming we welcome is the start of 2 more mindful living groups. The Managing Chronic Conditions Mindfully program (MCCM) is what I call the little-brother of the CORE program we began in February. That program is intense and demanding, exploring the breadth of the PARA skills, as we call them. The MCCM is shorter, more practice-focussed and light on reading and self-study. It was developed to concentrate on the acquisition and cultivation of mindfulness or attention, the first A of PARA. It responds to the needs of many former participants who struggled with chronic illness and had less developed reading and study skills.
One of the groups will be held in Pembroke at the RMML Centre, the other will be in Cobden, using the well-known “badge” of Change Your Mind, the program that started it all for us about 12 years ago. Both are daytime groups and both share the same material and format. It will be interesting to see how effective a lighter version of this training may be. It’s heartening to see that, even after 12 years of program delivery, there remains an interest in using non-medical, non-pharmaceutical interventions like mindful living to address chronic health conditions. 


yours mindfully,
Ray

Thursday, 12 March 2015

MINDFULNESS AND THE NET

I have been working through an exciting new book in preparation for the Taming Our Digital Lives workshop on the 21st. The book is The Shallows, What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, by American tech observer, Nicholas Carr. He is stirring up considerable debate around the transformation of our lives into digital, or at least digitally-constrained existences. It particularly resonated with me because of the way he distinguishes Net-based activity as being structured around superficial (in a good way) activity which can  collapse into mindless distractability and that part of our lives which needs to be open and reflective, even contemplative.

It drew my attention to the many ways I experience distraction when online. Just as a test, I loaded and reloaded a typical page without attending to the content and was sharply aware of how many built-in distractions there are on a typical page. It is an exercise of will, usually a failure to sustain any firm attention for more than a second or two.


Contrast this with my recent experience on a midnight beach in Cuba. I drew a chair into the surf and sat, just above the waves and did my sitting practice staring at the gentle shimmering of the full moon.  Even allowing for my ADD-ish tendencies, I was aware of the drive in my senses to jump around, looking for new information, links, video, clickables and so on. Since then, I’ve been deliberately reining in my usual unrestrained Net activity to re-set more of the mindful, contemplative mind I need.


mindfully,
Ray

Thursday, 19 February 2015

IN THE MOMENT(UM)

IN THE MOMENT(UM)

Its one of those throw-away phrases that populate wellness, New Age and alt-health conversations. We need to be “in the moment”. As if we could somehow disconnect ourselves from the flow of time and inhabit some kind of ever-calm, ever-stress-free space of Now. Although many mindfulness teachers continue to offer up this gratuitous phrase, it has little or no meaning in the cultivation of mindful living.
It hardly needs saying, but this moment only exists and holds value in that it is an abstraction of the flow of our lives. In Buddhist psychology there is the term “nen-moment” which points to a finite number of discreet experiences which exist in a given temporal ‘moment’. Nevertheless, even nen-moments refer to distinctions in the flow of experience, not that any moment could have independent existence. What matters is our capacity to observe deeper and deeper detail in our experience, to recognize patterns and to avoid being reactive to what occurs.
What is more important than trying to hide out in some imaginary space of Now is that we attend to and recognize the momentum of our lives. Nothing about our lives arises out of nothing. If we are to benefit from mindfulness practice, even in its most psychological versions, we are encouraged to recognize patterns of thought, behaviour and action. This means we need to recognize the momentum of our lives, to see what has arisen in our experience and how we have tended to react to it. Although change is the form of our lives, we do not initiate it. We can sail within the current of change and, to do so, we need to recognize the momentum of that current. Our task is not to change anything but to recognize this current and direct our actions in the direction which is purposeful for us. We work with the current never independent of it. Let our aspiration be to “live in the moment(um)”.

yours, on purpose,

Ray

Sunday, 15 February 2015

EMOTIONS AND PRACTICE

EMOTIONS AND PRACTICE

Far too often mindfulness practice is presented in terms of a technical endeavour. We have advice on what to do when sitting, how to hold the hands, how to breath, how to deal with distractions, and so on. It gets reduced to a kind of mental fitness class. It becomes “stress-reduction” or something equally insipid.
At our quarterly retreat yesterday we spent our practice time working with 3 practices which only occasionally get included in mindfulness training. The practices were:
1. Naikan
2. Compassion (or karuna-bhavana)
3. Loving kindness (or metta-bhavana)

These , especially the 2nd and 3rd , have become more present in teaching these days. These are crucial practices to include in mindful living because they push us beyond the merely technical, into an awareness of interdependence. They invite us to acknowledge that our lives are inextricably intertwined with those of countless others, named and not, known and not.
Most of those who participated commented, as well, on the difficulty we have in extending understanding and good wishes towards ourselves. We are own harshest critics, stingy with our kindness and unforgiving in our judgments when directed inward. Engaging in practices like compassion and loving kindness encourage us to crack open that limitation and allow ourselves to lighten up on our selves.


REMINDER:
The RMML Centre is closed from February 20-28 while Ray is away.

Monday, 9 February 2015

MARKETING MEETS MINDFULNESS

MARKETING MEETS MINDFULNESS

We’ve often said that the term “mindfulness” has been co-opted by marketers and people who really have no idea what the term means. The weather-guy now says “be mindful of the snow”, rather than “drive slowly because it is snowing outside”. The gift of mindfulness as vipassana, (complete awareness) has been degraded as mindfulness-lite. Here’s a great example of why the term has become just a synonym for noticing or attention. 
 Mindfullness Or Mindfulness


Mindful living, as we understand it in Red Maple is a way of being and acting in your life which includes what we call the PARA skills – purpose, attention, relationships and activity. It is a comprehensive approach to how we can live every aspect of our lives so that we develop a deep satisfaction. It is how we can recognize ourselves as living and expressing what we say matters. Mindful living, as I have often said, is not just tacking something onto the way you have always lived your life and expecting that to transform everything. Mindful living is enquiring into your life with a willingness to live differently, to challenge the assumptions you have which have held you at a distance from the richness of your own experience and trapped you in reactivity instead of purposefulness.