This week, we enjoyed our last Tuesday evening meditation session of the year! We look forward to coming back together next week, now meeting from 6:30-8:00pm on Tuesday nights (starting January 3rd).
Given that a new year is upon us, it’s natural to spend some time reflecting on the past and also setting intentions for the future. In our discussions lately, we’ve been contemplating the theme of hope – the vitality and necessity of hope, what it means to trust in possibility, and how to do that while still keeping two feet solidly on the ground.
Picking up where we left off in our class last week, we listened to a segment of a talk by Tara Brach, entitled “How Hope Can Heal and Free Us, Part 2.” In this talk, she explores ways to actively cultivate hope, and shares some stories of people who’ve lifted themselves from hopelessness to new possibility, one step at a time.
We also had an interesting conversation about the good ol’ wandering mind. Everyone in the history of meditation has probably noticed…the mind likes to think! That’s what it does. Mindfulness trains us to be aware of thought patterns, so that we don’t always indulge them in automatic, habitual ways.
Neuroscientists have been researching something called the Default Mode Network, which is a set of brain structures related to mind wandering. This “resting state” of the mind turns out to be not-so-restful, as it is responsible for thinking about the past, thinking about the future, making up and recalling stories, and self-referencing. (Read more about the Default Mode Network here, if you’re curious.) One study about the Default Mode Network was entitled “A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind.” Isn’t it interesting how our meditative practices of mindfulness and concentration teach us to do basically the opposite of “default mode”: to drop our self-centric stories and come into the present moment?
Wishing you a peaceful transition into a bright New Year!