Exploring Different Meditative Practices

June 30, 2022 at 12:00 PM

Location:Online
Audience:Staff and Faculty
Contact Email:samantha.munro@carleton.ca

Are you curious to learn about and try various types of contemplative practices? Come join in these lunchtime sessions, where the first portion will offer overview, instruction, and time for Q&A, and the second portion will consist of a 20-30 minute practice, including re-orientation before parting ways.

This is for you if:

  • You’d like to touch on different practices and perhaps explore more deeply on your own time with the resources provided.
  • You wish to be able to ask questions and potentially share experiences in support of your practice.
  • You’re open-minded and ready to (possibly) step outside your comfort zone and experiment in an energetically playful laboratory of living.
  • You’re willing to take responsibility for your experience, identify if something isn’t working for you, and honour yourself and others by acting accordingly.

When:

  • Beginning June 16, sessions will take place every second Thursday.
  • There will be six in total: June 16, June 30, July 14, July 28, August 11, August 25.
  • Teaching portion will begin at 12:05pm (you’re welcome to eat during this) and practice commences afterward for a duration of 20-30 minutes. Sessions will wrap up by 1pm.
  • You’re welcome to join a few minutes early for a soothing soundscape/transition time.

Where & How:

  • Registration is available at the bottom of this page. Sign up before 9am on Monday, June 13. Registration will close afterwards.
  • Once registered, you’ll receive the Zoom link, which will be the same for every session.
  • You’ll also be added to an email list and will receive a note a few days in advance of each session indicating the upcoming theme and any relevant preparatory information.
  • You don’t have to attend every session, however there will be an intentional progression of themes, so it might be helpful if you do. (You can also practice via the shared resources.)
  • Some portions of the sessions may be recorded and made available for practice purposes; however, attendance is encouraged.

What Informs the Offerings

Listen here.

Contemplative practices entered Heather’s awareness in 2004. In the throes of grief, she found solace in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Buddhist wisdom teachings which planted seeds for practices that would find her later in life. In 2008, she began learning about stress and the limbic system, as well as how visualization and deep breathing techniques can interrupt our programmed stress reactions, thus offering a degree of choice in how we respond when triggered. The positive changes she experienced internally and in relationships were significant enough to keep going.

In 2009 Heather was introduced to the work of Stephen Levine through his book, “A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last”. The experiment helped to root more deeply some of the earlier teachings, as well as provide a framework for what would become a regular practice of “living with death on her shoulder”. It also introduced her to the art of finding meaningful ways to meet pain and loss in preparation for the inevitable. She went on to engage in a variety of non-western healing modalities, including the exploration of non-ordinary states of consciousness through techniques such as Vipassana meditation, Yoga (not only the physical postures), plant medicine, hypnotherapy, trance journey, ecstatic dance, somatic experiencing, and sacred sound. Along the way, she was graced with many teachers and guides that helped bridge gaps and bolster her self-directed study.

In 2015, Heather became drawn to an active meditation technique widely referred to as breathwork and began regularly participating in conscious-connected breathing circles. In particular, the Holotropic Breathwork protocol designed by Dr. Stanislov Grof proved not only an integrative practice grounded in both science and spirit (which pleased both of her brain’s hemispheres!) but also a meaningful convergence of many of her interests – the effects of trauma & chronic stress on the nervous system, western/non-western perspectives on mental health & disease, neuroplasticity, depth psychology, near-death/shared-death experiences and other psychic phenomena, mysticism, shamanism, and the healing potential of aligning one’s rhythms with cycles of Nature.

Breathwork is really the key that unlocked the door to Heather’s own middle path, as it is woven from the same thread which weaves through many original spiritual traditions and it has the potential to offer accessible, direct experience with the ineffable numinous to which so many religions (and quantum physics) point. Despite initially feeling fed by other cultural practices, it felt misaligned for Heather to lean primarily on wisdom traditions not associated with her ancestry. This was in part due to the recognition that she lacked extensive experience with the entirety of any given tradition, and in part due to a growing awareness of the cultural appropriation running rampant in New Age spiritual communities. Since exploring more deeply her Celtic and Norse roots and (re)discovering the traditional medicines of her ancestors, she takes refuge in breathwork as part of her spiritual practice.

Like all of us, Heather is a multi-faceted creature made up of many things. As a pagan, explorer of inner worlds, grief practitioner, artist, support worker, teacher, and recovering perfectionist, she is dedicated to the ongoing learning/unlearning of what it means to be human, and what it means to be in right relationship with our human and non-human kin. For the past five years, she has been refining all of what has helped to heal the wounds of developmental trauma and dominant cultural conditioning, as well as what has helped to disrupt the programming that can keep us bound in narrow perspectives and unhealthy patterns.

Although well-versed in these areas, Heather claims no complete expertise and is wary of any teacher who doesn’t ultimately point you back to yourself, to the inner guide and knowing that is ever present, although sometimes obscured. She places an emphasis on the practice of “getting out of our own way”, shifting from head-to-heart, and trusting in the body’s inherent capacity to communicate/express what it needs. With the power of presence, Heather humbly holds space and offers up reminders of what you already know at the deepest levels of being. Her hope is that sharing these practices will serve to support others in getting to know themselves, and recognizing their own unique gifts and medicine in the name of co-creating the world our hearts know is possible.

Registration

To register for these sessions, please fill out the form here. Once registered, you’ll receive the Zoom link in the confirmation email, which will be the same for every session.