By the time the first Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class starts, I’ve already sat with each participant to hear their story. Some are facing their mortality, others chronic debilitating pain and addiction, still others, family histories that limit their capacity to feel joy. Each story reminds me a bit of my own, making it easy to welcome their vulnerability. Their stories are real, and incredibly human.
There’s something we’re all in together. Joseph Campbell calls it the ‘hero’s journey’, his words for the winding, soul forming journey, that grows wisdom and insight. We all get ‘called’ to the journey; but we don’t all go. The journey is nothing short of mythical. It takes courage, as we’re asked to face our worst demons, to sharpen our swords for battle, to welcome magical allies and to discover hidden treasures.
The ‘call’ comes as something that throws us ‘off center’, a challenge to the status quo. It could be an illness, a loss, a new job, a change of relationship, ongoing chronic pain or some other catalyst for deep self-inquiry. A period of confusion follows, in which we might be asked to peel away layers of illusions; ones of grandiosity and those of limitation. If we’re lucky, we are deeply transformed in the process, as we discover truths about our interdependence, our gifts and our capacity to love and be loved.
That’s the promise of the ‘hero’s journey’. The MBSR course is but a stop along the way for the traveler. It takes incredible courage and humility to be present for the moments of our lives. But those before me are ready. Together, we strap on our rucksacks, gather our maps and compasses and take the first step. Each is a ‘hero’ or ‘heroine’ by the fact that they’ve chosen to be here.
Now that’s and inspiring group of people with whom I’m lucky enough to be spending the next 8 weeks.
Fall 2016 – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program STARTS
Oct 11th, Th PM, 6-8:30am, + Nov 20th full day – Northampton, MA
Course ends Nov, 29th.