MEDITATION IN TORONTO'S EAST END
We host a weekly mindfulness meditation sitting group at Broadview and Danforth in Toronto's east end (but currently meeting online.) Everyone is welcome, beginners or seasoned practitioners; those who are interested in learning about mindfulness or those wanting to deepen their practice.
Our practice is inclusive, secular, and guided by the following fundamentals of wellbeing:
Rest - Mindfulness can be used to create and nurture rest in our mind and body. We live in busy, distracted times, so the ability to skillfully and effectively foster relaxation is crucial to our health.
Resilience - Mindfulness practice helps us to become more flexible and less reactive to our experiences. It helps give us choice. We can learn to tolerate bad times with more ease and appreciate good times without clinging.
Recovery - We recognize that many people struggle with trauma, mental health, anxiety, depression, and addiction. Mindfulness is a life practice that helps us know ourselves better and provides support for building healthy life skills.
WEEKLY TORONTO GROUP MEDITATION
Our drop-in meditation group meets every
Thursday night 6:30pm-7:30pm at the Centering Space, 59 Cambridge Avenue in the heart of Toronto's Riverdale neighbourhood at Danforth and Broadview (currently meeting online.)
Guided meditation sits are about 30 minutes, with time for discussion before and after. No experience necessary. Please see our schedule below
All sessions are free.
April 2020: Thinking
Two ends of the thinking spectrum are: quiet, spacious mind and monkey mind. All month, we'll practice strategies to work with our thinking minds.
Meeting info: 630pm EST, Thursdays. Email us for the meeting link: firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 9: You Are Not Your Thoughts: There are many aspects of the thing called "me." One is the incessant chatter of our internal monologue. It feels like the experience of thoughts are "me" because we are drawn to them and quite willing to spend inordinate amounts of time focusing on them. But a little bit of mindfulness can reveal the truth about the transient nature of thoughts and make them less sticky and problematic. (John)
Zoom meeting info: https://zoom.us/j/532076797?pwd=a0ZQa1JUUXFNVHN2MG9aNVdFZUcwdz09
Meeting ID: 532 076 797
April 16: Practicing With Monkey Mind: We all have a chattering monkey in our mind. To tame it, it's best to treat it like a real monkey. Fighting it our trying to ignore it will only make things worse. Instead, try taming it with with respect and care. And remember: It's just as afraid of you as you are of it. (John)
April 23: "I can't shut off my mind, and that's why I can't meditate." Guess what? You don't need to shut off your mind. That's not the goal of meditation. This week, we'll practice disentangling our thoughts with the reliable See, Hear, Feel technique from Unified Mindfulness. (Melissa)
April 30: Let's work with spaciousness this week; locating the spaciousness around our thoughts, and finding space away from the busyness of our minds. (Melissa)
Previous Monthly Themes:
September 2019: Practice in Daily Life
Everyday life is filled with opportunities that we can use to strengthen our practice and make ordinary experiences more rewarding. Each week we'll explore different techniques to incorporate mindfulness in everything you do throughout your everyday day.
Sept 12 - Building a daily mindfulness practice
Sept 19 - Overcoming obstacles to sticking with your practice
Sept 26 - Using mindfulness in daily life (on your commute, doing chores, exercising...)
October 2019: Anxiety
Throughout the month we'll learn strategies to cope with the inevitable stressors of modern life.
Oct 3: Breath and Relaxation
Oct 10: Resistance to Rest
Oct 17: Breaking Apart Anxiety
Oct 24: Turn Away
Oct 31: Turn Towards
November 2019: Compassion for Self
This month we'll work on elevating our kindness towards ourselves.
November 7: Friendliness - facilitated by Melissa
November 14: Radical Acceptance - facilitated by Melissa
November 21: Loving Kindness to Self -
Loving Kindness practices, which have deep roots in many contemplative traditions, usually begin with open-hearted non-reactive, non-judgmental compassion directed towards ourselves. Nowadays the idea of taking time to practice self-love can seem cheesy and self indulgent, but the practice has been shown to strengthen areas of the brain responsible for empathy and serves as an antidote to persistent negative mind-states. Facilitated by John.
November 28: Self Inquiry. In attempting to cultivate greater self-compassion, it can be helpful to question what this thing called "self" really is. Using the inquisitive, questioning nature of insight meditation, we can break apart the idea of a fixed, permanent identity. Questioning our sense of self, asking "Who Am I" can help us get unstuck from judgement and self-criticism and make it easier to cultivate kindness and acceptance. Facilitated by John.
December 2019: Compassion for Others
The holidays can pose lots of struggle in managing stress, dealing with family, or feeling overwhelmed, so we'll dive in to ways to work with cultivating kindness towards others.
December 5: Loving Kindness to Difficult People. One of the final stages of Loving Kindness meditation is to direct our open heart and good wishes toward someone who we can't easily love. A stumbling block for many practitioners, there are helpful ways to re-frame the behavior of people we're in problematic relationships with so we can open our hearts and be more accepting of others, even people we don't like.Facilitated by John.
December 12: How will I make it through this holiday party? - Overwhelmed by the prospect of making endless small talk? Does the introvert in you want to cancel your plans? We'll talk about how we can better cope with the demands of the holiday season. Facilitated by Melissa.
December 19: Your family is a spiritual practice! You think you're an evolved, grown up person ... until you have to spend the holidays with your family. We'll talk working with triggers, and setting boundaries. Facilitated by Melissa.
January 2020: Recovery: How can mindfulness help ground you?
This month, we will discuss topics related to addiction recovery. The path to recovery is daunting, challenging, non-linear, and we need lots of tools to support us. Mindfulness is a key tool to help support our day to day emotional and psychological wellbeing. The topics this month are also fairly common to the human condition. Whether or not you're in recovery - you're welcome in our group this month. Many of us are recovering from something, like grief, loss, or trauma, and mindfulness is a supportive practice which helps you ground and heal. This month will be facilitated by Melissa.
January 16: Transforming Shame. Shame keeps us locked in the past. We'll talk about how to liberate our shame through mindfulness, by working with the emotions and thoughts that go along with shame.
January 23: Tap in to your resilience. A super wise teacher reminded me of the polarity: trauma AND resilience. Our resilience has gotten us this far - let's work on using it as a source of strength.
January 30: Working with fear. You might experience fear on a regular basis - and it might not go away. You might be more wired towards anxiety. How do you work WITH fear? We'll practice strategies to help us work with panic, anxiety, and dread. The good news is that, with mindfulness, you can become much more skillful at working with these feelings and sensations.
February 2020: Positivity (In Stressful Times)
No doubt about it, we're inundated with bad news like never before. How can you take it all in and maintain a sunny disposition? What about unpleasant events in your personal life? How can mindfulness help us act more skillfully in difficult situations?
Feb 6: Negativity Bias. We'll look carefully at our reactivity and see how human evolution has gifted us with a tendency towards focusing on the negative. But if we stop and take the time to search inside ourselves, is negativity all that's there? Mindfulness can help us be "okay" with feelings of anxiety and help redirect our attention towards positivity. (John)
Feb 13: Deconstructing the Problem. Sometimes when we're overwhelmed by a problem, a fresh perspective can help. A friend or loved one can provide this for us, but we also have the resources directly in our own consciousness to step back and dissect what's going on, loosening the anxiety around the issue and potentially even making it not so much of a problem anymore. (John)
Feb 20: Using music as a mindfulness practice. We'll practice noticing how listening to music triggers positive emotion. (Melissa)
Feb 27: 'But what if things go right?' ... seems to be a question we could ask ourselves more often. We'll practice affirming ourselves and our experiences. (Melissa)
March 2020: You are not your emotions
Emotions can become our puppet masters, controlling us and leading us astray into undesirable, even self destructive behaviour. They're also an unavoidable, natural part of human existence, so trying to resist them is fraught with peril. One of the greatest benefits of meditation practice is that it allows us an opportunity to have a full range of emotions in all kinds of situations and still be at peace. With practice we can open space between emotions and our reactivity, acknowledging them but not allowing them to control our lives.
Mar 5: Finding Emotions. Mindfulness allows us to make space to focus on any kind of emotion that we're experiencing. We can use techniques to locate the physical sensations as well as the visual and mental thoughts that accompany them. Even a few moments of observing, acknowledging and accepting what's going on in our inner world can go a long way to getting unstuck from our emotions and hopefully to stop letting them drive our behaviour. (John)
Mar 12: How to (not) be Annoyed. It's not something we talk about much but we all get annoyed sometimes. And if everybody gets annoyed that must mean we're also annoying other people. We'll look at what it means to be annoyed, how it's triggered and how to live with it. (John)
March 19: Calming and Grounding during Uncertain Times. (Melissa)
March 26: Taking care of your wellbeing during COVID. (Melissa)
April 2020: Thinking
April 2: "I can't be alone with my thoughts." Is this something you've said? This is a sentiment of many potential meditators, who avoid practicing because they think it won't work for them. We'll talk about how to begin. (Melissa)
OUR MEDITATION COACHES
As a full time personal and professional development coach, Melissa helps people who are pursuing change, growth and acceleration to uncover more freedom and meaning in their lives. She is most passionate about social justice and human rights, healing, recovery from and destigmatization of addictions, the exploration of human consciousness, theories of change, and helping people to know themselves deeply.
Melissa is the founder of Integral Recovery Toronto – group coaching for people in recovery from addictions and alcoholism to focus on their personal growth and development. Melissa has worked for several years on her own recovery from addiction, depression and anxiety – which requires ongoing practice, tenderness, resilience and connection with other human beings on the path. She has a young son, and they’re growing up together.
John is a long-time meditation and yoga practitioner. In addition to L2 Unified Mindfulness Certification, he has training in Yoga Tune Up, the Roll Model Method for myofascial release and a wide variety of breathwork. He likes combining all of those modalities together in workshops and retreats to help people relax, destress and empower themselves with powerful yet practical self-care tools that can be incorporated into daily life. Dharma Name Kongun (Empty Cloud,) John took Buddhist precepts at Zen Buddhist Temple in Toronto in 2003. Intensive Zen practice didn't shake the curiosity to try new things, so he's studied and sampled a wide variety of other meditative practices from Buddhist meditation practices to ancient philosophy to modern pyschology.