We host workshops in the Montreal area several times a year and present them one evening per week for four, six or eight weeks. Each series covers a specific topic, such as Roots of Courage, Letting Go and Family Stress. Some past workshops have been published and are available as audio downloads.
Our method is Mindful Reflection: mindfulness reduces mental chatter and clarifies the mind; reflection shapes and directs the chatter. Like two sides of a coin, these complementary skills make your mind both quiet and thoughtful. They’re a form of meditation that doesn’t just seek peace but also engages with the chaos of life.
Mindfulness is a sort of working memory. It is non-judgmental, located in the present moment and able to know just a few things at a time. Reflection is a form of thinking; it selects ideas gleaned from working memory, forming and reforming long-term memory and intelligence.
- Mindfulness creates the space you need to see reactivity and change habits. When you’re being mindful, you’re watching your thoughts and feelings, not using them. This is a time to pay attention, not to make decisions.
- Reflection helps you realign old thought patterns and not be led by them. It gives you more say in directing your life-goals, helping you accept what you must and change what you can; it helps you make better decisions. Reflection cultivates ethics, clarity and insight (see below).
- Ethics is not just about following rules. It requires attention to your behavior and an understanding of consequences. For us, karma is the momentum of your mental and physical actions. Ethics means not harming yourself or others.
- Clarity means focus and discernment in all aspects of your life. Because it encompasses everything you do, it requires a light touch.
- Insight is sublime but elusive. It means letting go of wishful thinking, and understanding your illusions for what they are. Without consoling beliefs, unnecessary opinions and outdated attitudes, the mind becomes elastic and naturally free.
In technical terms, the goals of Mindful Reflection are twofold: firstly to understand your mind and how it works; secondly, to face your fears and uproot denial. Mindful Reflection has the power to transform you and those you touch.
The Buddhist Connection
We’re not religious. We don’t pray or chant. However, Mindful Reflection is grounded in Buddhist practice. Despite common misconceptions, it’s not about emptying the mind or stopping thoughts. Rather, it’s a threefold path of ethics, clarity and insight.
The mind is not separate from its contents. Consciousness is a collision of subject and object, the simple act of knowing. It is ethically neutral, but left to its own devices it takes the path of least resistance and ignores the long-term; that’s why it needs cultivation.