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A Reflection on Personal Practice Mentoring

The following is a post written by a mentee and shared recently with the Mindfulness Network.

For further information about personal practice mentoring:https://www.mindfulness-supervision.org.uk/personal-practice-mentoring/

“I’ve been practising mindfulness since I did my ten-week course with a local Buddhist centre in 2004. I came to mindfulness because I felt a desire in myself to experience life in a new way – a way that was more open to awareness of the experiences of life as they unfolded. Since then, I have undertaken various mindfulness training courses and retreats. In 2016, I completed the distance learning MBSR course with Bangor as a refresher. Afterwards I found it difficult to find people to practise with and so when an opportunity arose to take part in personal practice mentoring I jumped at the chance.

A mentoring session is a very gentle experience and has evolved into its present structure as a result of a dialogue between the mentee and the mentor. My overriding experience of the process is that it is centred around the needs of the person receiving the mentoring. The mentor acts as guide and facilitator and allows the person receiving mentoring to navigate their own course.

Each session is an hour in length and I usually have one session per month, although at times I prefer to have two sessions if I am working through some more complex experiences. We begin with a short check-in to see where I am at and then move into a time of guided meditation. This mediation is always focused on what is most relevant and necessary for me right now and is based upon what I have told the mentor that I would like the session to be. After the meditation, we spend the remainder of the session reflecting on the experience – searching for the nuances at the edges of my experiences. We finish by exploring what might be helpful to me to allow my practice to deepen.

For me, the benefits have been immense. The personal practice mentoring sessions have become an island in an often turbulent and fast flowing river of experience. They have been an opportunity to deepen my practice and to weave it into the fabric of my daily life. Most of all, practice mentoring has been an opportunity to remain engaged with practice in a way that I never could have done alone. My mentor is a person I can trust and whose wisdom and generosity of spirit I deeply value.

I would highly recommend personal practice mentoring to anyone who wishes to deepen practice and integrate it into their daily lives. In short, I’d recommend it to anyone who really wants to live a mindful life.”


Fr Martin Bennett OFM Capuchin is a Capuchin Franciscan Priest, Chaplain, Life Coach and Mindfulness Practitioner.


Warp and weft

In the last Staying Mindful: Monthly Practice Group meeting we explored the attitude that we develop towards practice as we continue to practice over a period of time  beyond our initial training. While the regularity of daily practice, what and when and where we choose to practice, and how we build this in to  the routines of daily life, is of continued importance in the long view of practice, our attitude to practice is just as important as the patience, effort and discipline required. Like the warp and the weft of a weaving, both directions are needed to bring things towards a balanced whole. We need the structure and routine of practice to build the habit of awareness in our lives, but we also need the kindness and care  towards our practice and life experience to help us become clearer, more open and compassionate. Both are mutually independent.

Pema Chodron, in her lovely book “How to Meditate : A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind”(Sounds True, 2013) talks about steadfastness and loyalty towards ourselves as one of the primary qualities that we cultivate through regular meditation practice. We cultivate steadfastness through continually allowing whatever is happening in our experience to be there, and through staying with the experience. The “practice ” of meditation means that we are helping this attitude and quality of mind translate itself in to our life experience at other times.

“We have such a tendency to lay a lot of labels, opinions, and judgments on top of what’s happening. Steadfastness- loyalty to yourelf – means that you let those judgments go. So in a way, part of the steadfastness is that when you notice your mind is going a million miles an hour and you’re thinking about all kinds of things, there is this uncontrived moment that just happens without any effort; you stay with your experience.

In meditation, you develop this nurturing quality of loyalty and steadfastness and perseverence towards yourself. And as we learn to do this in meditation, we become more able to perservere in all kinds of situations outside of our meditation, ot what we call postmeditation.”

In our meeting,  we reflected on what cultivating steadfastness and loyalty might really mean to us in our practice, and how it might be relevant to the reality of how we practice from day to day. Does practice become a rather hard, rigidly carved out space in daily life? Do we contrive things so we only sit when we feel like it, or wish to feel good? Do we give oursleves a hard time when we don’t manage to practice when, or as long, or as regularly as we would wish? How can we more loyal to the process, to the experience itself? What would steadfastness in practice look like to each of us individually? Would it involve a change in what we choose to do, or how we approach our practice, the intention we bring to it, the way in which we relate to oursleves?

A word that came up in our reflections was “relationship”, a sense of how we build relationship with ourselves through practice, through beginning in the moment, with whatever is here. Some of us thought that “steadfastness” seemed like quite an old-fashioned word, but that it had qualities of rootedness, holding, persistence, not giving up, a sense of honesty and truth with ourselves. Staying close to our values and what really matters. Choosing to sit with ourselves  on a regular basis is a way of developing a steady relationship to the ups and downs of experience,  but it is also a gateway to a less contrived way of living and perceiving, in which honesty and steadiness are allowed to flourish without striving for things to be other than they are.  It can perhaps be helpful to hold both the warp and weft of practice in mind, as we continue to open to the journey of practice in daily life.  We can think about our practice freshly and consider if we need to give more nurturing care to the warp or the weft. We can begin to see the way the weaving holds together with an inbuilt strength and integrity, instead of flopping and unravelling and dropping out and all the million ways our energy is dissipated when we do not pay attention. We can perhaps see our practice more clearly and value it more deeply.

Staying Mindful Monthly Practice Meetings take place monthly in The Grainger Suite of the Mercure Newcastle County Hotel (directly opposite Central Station) 6.30pm- 8pm. The next meeting will be Thursday 19th May. The meetings offer a chance to drop in and continue to practice together in a friendly group environment  and reflect on practice together (with all its many new beginnings)  in a supportive, non-judgmental way.