Tonight we had 7 guys show up, a few regulars (Chance, Chris, Vinny, and Ordel) and some newer (Alejandro, Reif, Travis). I brought a good friend in which changed the dynamic from a typical evening. Amma Thanasanti Bhikkhuni, a Theravadan nun that I have been involved in supporting for the last 3 years. We took a few minutes to check in with the guys and see where they were at over the last week or two with a few of them sharing anxiety around their transition out of Lookout Mountain.
The energy was high to start so we started with standing and a minute or two of just bouncing. Yes, bouncing. It’s incredible what 120 seconds of jumping up and down does for us… moved into a standing meditation grounding the feeling of the feet on the floor to connection with the earth and after about five minutes of scanning transitioned into sitting meditation with a focus on the breath to bring some concentration and calm to the room.
Set up a simple shrine in the center of the circle and did a round of “If you only knew me you’d know….” to get the guys to connect with their experience and ground a bit into sharing with the group.
I am afraid to succeed.
I am afraid of death so I try to appreciate everyone that I meet whether I like them or not because they teach me to appreciate everyone now.
I don’t trust myself and I’m trying to learn how to trust myself now and expand that to others.
I want freedom more than anything else. Not just in here but outside and everywhere I go.
Thanasanti asked the guys to pick up a small stone and place it on the simple shrine for a quality that they appreciate in themselves. Acknowledging that we could fill pages with what we don’t like of ourselves, but to take the time to let everyone know what strengths and talents we had. It was really moving to listen to the qualities of kindness and thoughtfulness that came through. From ‘willingness to persevere’ , ‘ability to see the good in others’, ‘knowing the power of the word ‘yet”. It allowed the guys to open themselves more in stating what they are proud of about themselves to balance the vulnerability they opened to in “If you only knew me”.
Used the responses and to steer the conversation to Empathy and Communication as the topic for the week but with a really heavy focus on the communication that we have with ourselves inside our heads and the internal judge we listen to that makes us feel sentenced. As the conversation continued it came back to working to build up our ability to hold what the world throws at us and being able to communicate our needs to others in a way that can be responded to skillfully rather than bursting at the seams to ask for help.
All in all, it was a great night at Lookout. Was great that the group that came had some experience in holding the space and was dedicated on some level to meditation. If every week could be like this one, we’d pay to participate.