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domino effectThis past week I have recognised a sense that the summer is here. Not just because of the warm weather, not just because evenings are punctuated by my beloved Tour de France on TV but rather because work has slowed to a pace that suggests “summer holidays”. And whilst my partner bemoaned the arrival of Bastille Day as the signal “summer is already ticking down”, based on my childhood memories it is only this coming week that heralds “school’s out for summer”.

My retreat is now nearly a month behind me. I continue to have moments reflecting on my personal koan, but more figural for me is the space emerging. The two collide - Bodhisattva activity requires energy, energy comes from rest: and the summer is typically the time I recharge. Inspired by the Tour, early morning bike rides complimented by longer meditation sittings are setting me up for the day. My private practice is still in full swing, but my University commitments are thinning down. In fact, more so than previous years - I have decided to step down from my role as Course Leader for the MSc in psychotherapy. This feels the right time - 3 years in the role feels long enough to have made my contribution to the team and to have gained enormous insight in to the training of psychotherapists; but now, I want become a ‘foot soldier’ on the team and to really focus on my teaching. Furthermore, it also the right timing in my manifestation as a Bodhisattva-with-training-wheels. My 1-2-1 role as a psychotherapist means I can help one person at a time; my role as a teacher allows each person I interact with to go out in the world and help others. Teaching enables me to help others to help even more others; a bit like when one domino hitting multiple dominoes.

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This week I have continued to gather inspiration comes from Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s latest book “In love with the world” and a passage that I read…

rest on the bridge

Why did this strike me? Those of you who read this blog regularly might spot the reference to the bridge as being significant - the name I was conferred when I recently took the Bodhisattva vow has invited me to contemplate how I manifest as Champe Sampa, or “Bridge of Maitri”. In this memoir, Rinpoche provides a vivid account of his leaving the monastery and going out on a wandering retreat. Here, the bridge he refers to is that of the transition from home to homelessness. In the Buddhist teachings, any such transition is referred to as a ‘bardo’ - although most often bardo is associated with the intermediate state between lives on earth: birth to dying, dying to death, death to re-birth. Because of the synchronous use of the metaphor, so timely in my processing and contemplating, it made me sit up, it made me take note.

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bridge over troubled water

Last week I shared how I had taken the Bodhisattva Vow while on retreat. It is the second vow on the Buddhist path, one that takes a practitioner in to a second 'vehicle' (or 'yana') and switches focus from working on self to working on self-in-relation-to-others. As a relational therapist, this is in so many ways what I have already chosen to do with my life - serve others and help them to help themselves. BUT, as inferred in my new name (the name conferred that marks taking the Bodhisattva Vow) "Bridge of Maitri", there is something about going beyond; taking my service beyond my working role as therapist. The same would be true in my role as a educator of new therapists too.

Well, that is one way I am interpreting "bridge": I don't know what Judy, the preceptor of the ceremony, had in mind when she came up with that name for me. I spoke last week how of I felt I needed to reflect upon what this name meant to me, how do I wish to manifest through the name Bridge of Maitri.