Mindful Living with Natasha Rix – Mindfulness Course Night One

Pre-Mindfulness 6 week Course in Tauranga
I have intended to participate in one of Natasha and Grant Rix’s introductory classes for the past 5 years (since we moved back home to Tauranga and I saw a flyer for their mindfulness courses at Playcentre). A generous handful of my closest local friends have completed the course and LOVED it. They’ve talked gently to me about how it’s positively influenced their lives.

Some say these courses on mindfulness with the Rix duo have saved their marriage. Some say it helps them be the calm, peaceful, loving person they want to be around their children. Others say Natasha (Mindful Living) provides a ‘How to’ to lead a happy life.

Stay tuned for a weekly update of my experience with Natasha and the mindfulness for well-being course (an introduction to meditation) in our bountiful Bay of Plenty.

Post Night 1

karma choeling monasteryI made it. Husband arrived in our driveway from Auckland at 7.18pm and I walked through the Mount Club’s double glass doors at 7.31pm.
I followed the mindfulness sign that pointed up the tall staircase (away from the TAB and the smell of beer on carpet) through the open doors into a spacious, fluro lit ‘conference’ room. I could see the base of the Mount (I think) through the vast windows beyond the people on the other side of a semi-circled group of chairs and about 18 people.
Tash (our Teacher) was sitting at the front, friendly and prepared. Her Tibetan bowl, some water, notes and other props I haven’t retained-to-memory are dotted around her.

lama tseringI will admit another point before I continue, some of my resistance in attending the mindfulness courses, have been my anticipation they’d be centred around Buddhism. Before anyone thinks I’m anti-Buddhist, I’d like to say, I’m interested, fascinated in all religions. My favourite University paper (apart from ‘Travel Writing’) was ‘Women in Religion.’ I’m receptive to anything that explores alternative ways to a sense of calm, happiness and well-being. I’ve been to a robust handful of Buddhist Teachings (mostly in my 20s) and been moved and led by them. Notably, Lama Samtenfrom Karma Choeling Monastery in Kaukapakapa, and Lama Tsering Everestwho gave teachings in TAPAC theatre  – I still occasionally play the CDs of her teachings. In my early 30s I started to chant with some thespian friends (of which there was a large community practicing as I explored Nichiren Buddhism) through Soka Gakkai International (SGI). I’m wondering if this is the place to write this, but, where I became unstuck with Buddhism is when a Teacher I greatly revere pointed out the similarities within Buddhism and Christianity around wanting to ‘be good’ – to put it simply. I am of course fairly naive and ignorant. I have not yet studied or immersed myself within one religion or philosophy for longer than a few weeks at a time. Perhaps this is an invitation to at least read essays which support and refute the notion that Buddhism and Christianity are similar. I do remember it’s said Jesus Christ met/studied with the Buddha. What I do know is, I feel alive and happy when I read Anita Moorjani’s story and listen to her interviews and how she focuses on accepting ourselves, accepting life and all its offerings (even the unwanted, the uncomfortable, the difficult). I feel warm and inspired when Anita encourages us to L O V E ourselves completely. There seems to be no shame in what she implores us to be – ALL of ourselves. Whereas the notion of converting anger into compassion, or of confessing one’s sins and striving to live by the commandments, seems to be making judgement on oneself. This judgement seems to be an activity that brings suffering. If I judge myself, then I also judge another. If I find it a challenge to accept myself, I have difficulty accepting another. Whereas ‘The Tao’ suggests we are everything. Capable of all. This ‘reality’ feels closest to L O V E, to acceptance, to calm.

“When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.”
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Now that was a long aside…
What you may or may not be interested to know is during Night 1 of this 6 week Mindfulness Class – there is no reference to Buddhism, to any religion.

Point 1: Anyone can attend Tash’s Mindfulness Course(s) – irrespective of Religion, whether Christian, Taoist, Jewish, Atheist, Hindu, Muslim, Agnostic, Hare Krishna

More about Night 1…
This took me by surprise – I was moved to tears by hearing the men and women in the room share their name, (some shared their profession) and their purpose or intention for being ‘here’.
I felt an instant sense of connection to everyone, and a genuine deep interest and care for all of us.
I guess I was expecting the room to be full of Mum’s wanting to manage their melt-downs with their under 5s – hint some of my motivation…
Instead in the arc of faces and bodies were high-functioning, big-hearted, humane, brave-to-try-something-new-and-stilling people who were living already full and successful lives as doctors, lawyers, business owners, mental wellness workers…
I was inspired by them – their honesty and generosity, their faces, their voices, their words.
I would get to spend another 5 evenings of learning with new people sharing a common purpose.
Community and commonality is powerful – that sense of belonging and purpose was potent.

The last ‘report’ for the night before I snuggle is:
I got a greater understanding of the definition of mindfulness. Tash suggested we can think of mindfulness as:

decreasing distress
increasing wellbeing
by training the mind

I liked also that she suggested it’s not actually mindfulness but BODY Mindfulness. Which I took to mean: the body’s experience (it’s keen awareness) informs the mind’s presence.

buddhism for mothersAs she spoke in that 7.30pm-9.00pm Thursday session other connections were being fired in my curious brain. The idea of Awareness (articulated so accessibly in Buddhism for Mothers) which I wrote about a few posts ago i.e. I’ve slowly cottoned on to focusing on the sensation of this experience of being alive (inside the physical body). I also thought about how a couple of pregnancies ago I’d recognised how much unnecessary tension I carry in my body and I’d started playing with how light or strong my touch or hold could be – it turns out this is also a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness – I feel less reluctant now.

It feels like Tash is highlighting some tools to employ in daily life, rather than adding another must-do thing to my already very-active day.

I have meditated (in a very casual way whilst lying in bed) twice for 5-10 minutes. I will admit to not feeling great success in this area. Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey.

The hold-up? Feeling like there’s no physical space or quiet me-time in my house (with 3 small children) for this. A friend gets up before her children – ouch. BEFORE 6am. I have an inkling I may be more of an evening ‘sitter’. We will see. Keep tuned with this life of a gal giving Mindfulness a go…


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