This is a public talk at the Dublin Samye Dzong on the eve of Alistair's weekend course there in November 2017.
Drawing on his many years of experience as a clinical psychotherapist and his practice as a Buddhist meditator, Alistair explores the ways in which these two 'lineages' of the mind can support one another and can sometimes clash.
Understanding the principles that underpin them can alert us to how they might be one dissonant, for example in the way that meditators might use meditation to "dissociate" their emotions or when therapy clients might use their sessions to strengthen storylines that are already way too strong.
It's an interesting talk for those are practising meditation and/or are practising or undergoing therapy, and everyone else in between who might be intrigued.
All proceeds (suggested donation £10) go to the Dublin Centre.
Please RSVP to the Dublin Centre to let them know how many are coming: email@example.com.
The Dalai Lama says that "all our suffering comes from caring about ourselves and all our happiness comes from caring for others". And yet we live in a world that puts "self" first and the 'me-me-me' culture we live in pre-programs self-interest.
Buddhism famously questions the nature of that 'self' and does so not from an intellectual place but one of meditative experience. The deeper we sit with the raw experience of the heart the more impossible it becomes to wall ourselves off from the experiences of others.
We become more empathic but then a surprise happens: we start to realise that opening up to the "otherousness" of the World actually makes life brighter, more adventurous, wider and wiser.
This weekend course is looking to explore the meditative path towards that experience of the gentle heart. Drawing on his experience as a therapist as well as long-term meditator, Alistair uses meditative practices, bodywork and group exercises to explore the world of emotions, togetherness and heart-felt connection known in Buddhism as 'bodhicitta' and to sound out the blocks and anxieties that stop us getting there.
It's suitable for beginners or those who want to re-visit the bodhicitta practices from a somatic place.
In the last few decades of neuroscience, there has been an explosion of fascinating research into 'embodiment'. This field looks at the way that the thinking mind is much less important in a healthy life than we have previously thought. The body becomes central...
Using his mix of research, therapy and Buddhist meditation, Alistair is running a 2-day exploration of this revolutionary way of experiencing ourselves. Using the tools of somatic meditation and focusing, we will look at how a stronger sense of interoception can deeper our understanding of our emotions, lessen the power of toxic thinking, reduce stress and heighten the sense of connection to others and the World.
Research shows that a healthy sense of ourselves as embodied can protect against depression, disordered eating, unregulated anxiety and a lack of vitality.
Come along to the lovely space of the Spa Road shrine room and open up to the wonders of the Body. Beginners and all levels welcome.
Alistair is back at St. Mary's for the winter of 2018 teaching an 8-week course on Immediacy.
Right at the heart of the meditative project is the recognition that fundamentally we're OK. Even though our minds may get glued up with thinking about what's wrong with our health, our relationships, our emotions, on the fundamental level Life (with a capital L) is running along regardless.
Buddhist practitioners for thousands of years have looked at methods for recognising that fundamental brightness and spaciousness of Life. Recent advances in neuroscience and biochemistry have confirmed that our somatic (i.e. bodily) intelligence is far wiser than our rather clunky thinking minds.
So this winter, we're looking at the simple (but profound) practice of immediacy - or "simply being" - and exploring ways in which we can drop the story-line that so weighs us down and step our into a reality that is alive, unpredictable but also vivid and ever-changing. More importantly still, we can live in that reality in way that focuses on others rather than ourself. Immediacy leads to kindness in all sorts of ways.
The class runs from 7pm to 9pm every Wednesday from 17th January through to 7th March.
This is a pubic talk given by Alistair ahead of his weekend course on 'I see you Mara' at the Cardiff Samye Dzong.
Central to all our spiritual practice is the needful awareness of what John Welwood calls "spiritual bypassing" or Chogyam Trungpa called "spiritual materialism". There is a constant danger that the thing we do to free ourselves from the damaging patterns of the past gets co-opted by those very patterns.
Most acutely we can notice this when we subtly or not so subtly use meditation in order to make us feel protected from the knocks of life. It's natural to want to be more comfortable, to want to minimise the stress of life and to get some 'me-time' but when meditation is hithched to this project of "ego-snugness" then the safety can soon become suffocation.
Looking at ways in which we can keep our practice connected to the realities of life and prevent ourselves from become isolated, uncompassionate cocoon-dwellers, this talk is open to all.
All proceeds of the collection go to the Samye Wales Centre.
At the moment of his enlightenment the Buddha defeated the force of ignorance and suffering, known as Mara, by uttering the words: "I see you, Mara".
Taking that as the starting point, Alistair will use this weekend to unmask the 'psychological Mara' that confounds our natural happiness and warm-heartedness with layer upon layer of deadening beliefs about our selves and the world.
Meditation and therapy give us tools to cut through those heavy stories about ourselves - in particular, the Buddha's insight into 'dependent origination', which explains how they arise so compulsively. Once we see 'Mara' in action then we can cut through the distortions and start living in a freer, more spontaneous and more light-hearted way.
This is a course suitable for beginners and practitioners wanting to refresh their practice. Some of the practises will be done lying down.
Starts at 10am and finishes at 5pm each day.
Most of us are terrorised by time. There are the daily stresses of commuting and childcare, of multitasking and meeting deadlines. Then there are the thoughts we torture ourselves with: "Have I done enough?" and "My life is slipping away". And finally those existential terrors presented by the internal body clock, the relentless footsteps of ageing and death and the environmental time-bombs of climate change and the planet's life-cycle.
These and other manifestations of "time stress" can often leaves us paralysed, anxious and dissociated.
But by facing the phenomena of personal time face-on and developing a skilful way of transforming our relationship to it, Life can be freed up in unimaginable ways.
This weekend at Spa Road is looking at how meditation and the Buddhist teaching of the "Four Reminders" allows us to do just this: re-frame our relationships with time and turn the ticking clock into an inspiration rather than a terror.
It's open to all levels - to beginners or people interested in approaching familiar dharma in a fresh light.
This is a public talk at the Scarborough Samye Dzong given by Alistair ahead of his weekend retreat 'Tender is the Heart'.
Speaking partly with his therapist hat on, Alistair will be exploring the fascinating subject of dissociation and how this also impacts our ability to love, relate and connect to the World around us.
The notion 'greying-out' life experience that clashes with our image of our self, or that upsets our sense of safety in the world, is a concept first proposed by the French psychologist, Pierre Janet. Oddly, although it makes perfect sense, it was 'airbrushed' out of history by the much more influential theories of Sigmund Freud. But in the last few decades it has become widely accepted and is a really useful way of understanding some of the repetitive and harmful patterns of 'not-seeing' that bedevil many of us.
Alistair ties this in with the Buddhist concept of 'ignorance' which is actually tremendously intelligent. But unexamined, dissociative patterns can stop us loving ourselves, loving our children and our partners, and they can lead to social and global blindspots which have become chronic and destructive.
All proceeds from the collection go to the Scarborough centre. No need to book but please let the centre know if you would like to come, to guarantee space: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alistair is back in Scarborough to teach a weekend course exploring the Buddhist practices around 'awakening the heart'. Traditionally these "bodhicitta" practices can be a little head-based and Alistair approaches them in a more somatic way, using the body as the gateway to interpersonal relationships. Taking a good look at how we really feel in our bodies when we think about ourselves and those around us and working with the strong gamut of emotions that arise in an embodied way. We'll be re-visiting classic practices like the "metta-bhavana" and "tonglen" in a new way.
The course is open to all levels, beginners and those wishing to approach these teachings from a fresh angle.
We begin at 10am and finish at 5pm on Saturday and 4pm on Sunday.
For the summer retreat, Alistair and the team are guiding the practice of silent sitting, so beloved by so many traditions but so often plagued with obsessive thinking and physical pain.
Drawing on the somatic teachings of Reggie Ray, Alistair will be leading us to find a way to sit within the "field of the body" and let troublesome thoughts float away. In this easy and open way of sitting we can experience a level of stability and peace that many of us find shockingly new and unexpected.
This is a course suitable for beginners but also for those of us who have been practicing for many years, but feel stuck in a meditative 'dead-end'. Working from a simple but profound understand of how the body is our greatest friend and the basis for our practice, the course will develop a sitting practice that can revolutionise our understanding of what 'meditation' really is, and lead to a lasting and palpable change in the way we experience the world and how we hold this unique life of ours.
You can book and pay for your place here - but you will need to book your accommodation separately on the Holy Island website.