Therapy Aroha Ltd Compassion-Based Mindfulness

Returning Home

Understanding Home

Some think of home as a place and when they go back years later, they find that they cannot truly return. I left my hometown for university 36 years ago and when I went back this year to see my mum and stepdad, I realised (not for the first time) that this was not home. What is home? Is it a place? Is it a state of mind? Is it people? Most who want to return home have some idea of what they think it is.

Home as a State of Mind

If home is memories of a place and we return to that place, we will find that people, buildings and other things that are the subject of these memories have changed. This can bring sadness. If we view home as the emotions we fondly remember - being content, being loved, being relaxed, etc - we can create home anywhere. I spent decades looking for home in different countries and finally realised that home was where I made it.

Creating Home

Think about the emotions and comforting things that remind you of home. What are they? For me, home is a peaceful place, where I am able to share love with my family and where I am able to grow mentally and intellectually. I have learned that my meditation space is part of this and I have a bench that I am able to take anywhere - helping to create home wherever I am. Make a list if you need to and then begin to make home where you are.

Aroha nui,

Lee Jordan signature

Gerald Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns ❤️

Removing Barriers

The Normalising Mind

Our minds are able to normalise almost anything. Over time, we become comfortable with so many things. With some of these things, we not only become comfortable, but we suffer when they are removed. We begin to see these things as part of our own identity. Part of self-actualisation (or the spiritual path, if you prefer this terminology) is to re-examine the things we have normalised.

Examining Your Life

As we look at our lives in a new and fresh way, we begin to reconsider the things we have blindly accepted. Exploiting animals was part of this path for me. Like so many, I grew up believing using others for my own pleasure was acceptable. When I tried to challenge these notions, others around me promoted the arguments which had been pushed to them when they doubted the rightness of these actions.

My Examination

Sadly, my family tree includes slave owners. My mother emailed me a Last Will of a great . . . grandfather who had willed his slaves and land to his children. For this person, owning others was acceptable. He had probably even convinced himself that he as doing a public service by enslaving others. This knowledge brought me sadness. I am certain our progeny will think similar thoughts of us for our exploitation of other beings on this planet.

In 2014, I realised that I was responsible for so much pain. I became vegetarian, believing this was enough. Four years later, I realised that I was still responsible for such very much pain and became vegan. My mind opened in a way that is difficult to describe. I began to look around me and I saw other worlds - I saw the world we have created in our ignorance and I also saw the world that is possible when we open our hearts. Nothing in my years as a religionist - including my undergraduate study in Theology - compared to the spiritual experience of being true to my heart, to removing the hypocricy of my life and living at peace with myself and others. I cringed the other day as I thought of my very last bible's cowhide cover. Violence wrapped in violence.

Removing Barriers for Growth

What barriers for growth exist for you? What are you refusing to reconsider, review or examine anew? If you feel stuck in your life - if you feel bored - it might be that you haven't worked through what already exists in your life. It is easy to imagine that a change, such as moving to a new place, will make things better. The reality, though, is that you will take the same you to this new place. Work with yourself where you are now and you will realise that so very much more is possible in your world.

Aroha nui,

Lee Jordan signature

Gerald Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns ❤️

Mālā and the Moment

Returning to the moment with my mala

Dealing with Daily Stress

I meditate an hour each night before bed. Three weeks after beginning this practice I became vegan. A few more weeks later in my meditation practice, my depression and anxiety of a dozen years disappeared. My mind is settled. I have come to see this as my natural state.

While peace is my natural state, the other day I began thinking of COVID-19 deaths and my family and friends at risk. What if the irresponsibility of family members means my mother dies of COVID? I became sad and worried for her. I realised that I was not existing in the present. I was projecting to a possible future - only one of many possible. I reached for my mālā and brought my thoughts back to the present. This is why we PRACTICE - it is not for the rush of positive emotions during meditation or the peace, it is so that we can take these tools into the rest of our lives. The meditative practice is not for the hour each day, but spreads to all that we are.

OM!

Aroha nui,

Lee Jordan signature

Gerald Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns ❤️

The Gift of Meditation

A Huge Secret

More than 2,500 years ago, a man discovered what he considered the causes and cure for suffering. He believed that suffering was all in our minds and that we could end suffering by learning to be with our minds in a thoughtful way. After he had this moment of clarity, he was hesitant to tell others, as how could he really convince people of something so very, very simple? For the last two plus millennia, people have struggled to understand this very simple concept. Some have succeeded and known great peace. To be clear here, what I am discussing is not any organised religion, but simply focusing on an object - such as your breath - to bring peace.

What this man figured out centuries ago, is finally being discovered in the West, including in scientific circles. Check out Oxford University's Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, if you want to see but one example of how this focused attention process is being used in modern clinical environments. (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is another example.)

The secret? One of the most powerful things you can do for your own mental health does not involve counselling or pills, but simply having enough dedication to yourself to sit with your mind for minutes a day. This is called a practice precisely because you need to do it regularly to develop competency. It sounds easy to focus, but actually it is not. Our minds wander constantly. When you commit to a practice, you will see results.

My Practice

I sit in meditation for one hour each night before bed. It not only provides long-term mental health benefits, but it also settles my mind for sleep and I have almost no nightmares (I used to have many). I reward myself for practice - giving ourselves small rewards encourages us. I have a meditation bench made of Ukraine Ash, I have a blanket I got here in México, I have beads from India. Basically, I set up a place at home which is my space for focus. I look forward to going there. It helps motivate me for my daily practice.

My meditation space

Starting for Yourself

Two things first:

1. Start gentle and slowly progress. If you can only do 5 - 10 minutes at first, great. Add a minute a week and in a year, you will be meditating an hour. Keep up the practice! Starting slow can help with this.

2. Your mind will wander. This is normal. Try not to beat yourself up mentally when you get distracted. Noticing this distraction and returning to the focus item (breath, candle, etc) is exactly the point of meditation. When you notice and return to focus, you are being successful. Rather than saying negative things because your mind wandered, say positive things to yourself because you noticed and have returned to your focus. This is success, not failure! If you do this, you won't dread your practice, but look forward to it.

Meditation is a beautiful gift to yourself! I hope it brings you as much peace, insight and joy as it has me and many others.

Aroha nui,

Lee Jordan signature

Gerald Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns ❤️

Puebla México

Travelling With Tracy

Since I arrived in the Northern Hemisphere in May, I have met my wife, Tracy, and we have visited my mother and stepfather in Oklahoma. These were the most important parts of the trip, but there has also been tramping in New Mexico, Oklahoma and North Carolina, as well as meeting all of Tracy's family and friends in Asheville, North Carolina. It has been a busy trip!

Puebla México

After our time with family and friends in the USA, we decided to come to México. We decided on Puebla as our first stop. We have been very active this first week, getting our bearings and settling in for the months ahead.

There has been settling into our accommodation in Puebla:

There has been looking for vegan restaurants, as well as making our own delicious vegan food (Tracy is an incredible cook):

We have wandered the streets near our accommodation in Puebla:

Waiting for the Borders to Open to NZ

We are looking forward to flying home to Aotearoa, once the borders open. I want to jump back into counselling work and Tracy wants to work on our new home and garden in Picton. So many adventures ahead, but also taking joy in the present!

Aroha nui,

Lee Jordan signature

Gerald Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns ❤️


About Therapy Aroha Ltd

Therapy Aroha Ltd is based in Aotearoa New Zealand and we provide counselling, death doula and training services online, in Wellington and the top of the South Island of Aotearoa NZ. Our online services include counselling and training and in-person services include therapeutic and educational consultations, as well as end-of-life support services.