Lovingkindness Meditation Residential Retreat: Friday December 8, 2017 – Sunday December 10, 2017

                                         Loving Oneself and Others                                                    

Lovingkindness Meditation Residential Retreat

730 PM Friday December 8, 2017- Noon Sunday December 10,2017

Saint Leo Abbey, 33601 State Road 52, Saint Leo, Florida 33574

Hosted by Heartland Insight Meditation Group

Saint Leo Abbey will provide a peaceful setting for a weekend of meditation.  Participants will enjoy:

  • Teachings that reverse anger and hatred and bring about compassion for self and others, sympathetic joy and equanimity, with time for questions and answers.
  • Sitting and walking meditation for beginning and experienced meditators.
  • Beautiful outside grounds for walking meditation or contemplation
  • 6 hearty meals provided by the staff at St Leo Abbey.
  • Cost is $205, plus donation to the teacher.

 

Course taught by Peter Carlson

Peter has practiced meditation for more than thirty years and taught Vipassana (Insight) Meditation for more than twenty years. He is the founder of Orlando Insight Meditation Group. His training includes three-month courses at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, MA.      

 

To register: contact Andy Quinn, 863-683-9600 abquinn2010@gmail.com

 

Refund Policy: Cancel greater than one month prior: Full refund

Cancel greater than one week prior:: 50% refund

Cancel less than one week prior to the retreat: no refund

 

 

 

 

Looks are Deceiving…..the Many Faces of Love

Loook at all these happy faces....a backpack trip I led on Cumberland Island
Look at all these lovely faces….a backpack trip I led on Cumberland Island

Facing our Truth?

Years ago I remember finishing an incredible backpacking trip in the Slickrock Creek Wilderness in North Carolina. Stopping at the first available convenience store so the group of us could stuff our faces with junk, I felt rather greedy and ashamed of our wealth in this sparse country.  As I was making my way back to our van, I was struck by the unsightliness of a woman entering the store. It was as if 1/2 of her face had been blown off. The sight of her face stayed with me, and for a few moments I was dumbfounded, and needed to gather myself. Part of me that was grateful that I did not have to deal with her directly. Now I know that in practicing mindfulness I would have been better equip to understand my feelings at the end of this trip.

In Buddhist psychology we are taught to face the truth of our own experience and be honest with ourselves……what this mind of ours is truly up to. I judge. We judge. And I am skeptical about those who say they do not. I wonder if they lack insight. As human beings we have a tendency to judge others often based on superficial information. We are superimposing our narratives upon the circumstances. Telling a story like that to others would have left me feeling all the more shamed and flawed. One story I sometimes share is about how much of a phony I feel to be sometimes. But being mindful-reflecting on my self- has helped me accept and begin to change those unwholesome parts of myself.

We identify with our face and others faces. I do not recognize my friend Bill as his legs, or introduce myself as my arms. We connect or disconnect with our faces. So when I see Bill, I already have my story of what Bill is about. Although the amount that I truly know about him is minuscule, I have filled in the blanks about who he is. An interesting way to practice is to be mindful of faces…take them all in.

We recognize something in every face that we see. People that we love, family friends, lovers this is a very pleasant feeling. We have very pleasant stories about the ones that we love. This is where we have imposed a perception upon the sensory data. When I see our child Lenora a pleasant sensation arises. A warm, agreeable, and heart felt connection. If I see a child that has caused my daughter some pain an unpleasant sensation arises. This perceptual process can lead to dissonance, a non attractive, not safe feeling. Disconnected, averse, distant, unfriendly. And there are those that we find neither pleasant nor unpleasant, invisible, non remarkable, and we may become indifferent, and the mind will become slothful, lazy. In some of these situations, we may try make some sense of the situation, and we fit some dialogue on top of that.  Age, culture, class, and gender has a lot to do with it. The problem is that the mind is deluded when it is becomes indifferent.  Recent research finds that neglect is worse that sexual abuse. Sometimes it seems as though the more unaware we are, the more checked out we are, and the more indifferent we become.

However all three perceptions are lacking….pleasant towards my daughter, unpleasant towards the alleged enemy, indifference towards the  non remarkable person. We sense that we are jumping to conclusions based on incomplete information, and that we really don’t want to make judgements, or assumptions- we really want to give all a fair shot. But sometimes in this frenetic, grasping society we often go to the default mode which has to do with aversion or checking out entirely.

These relationship impairments often lead to dissatisfaction, angst, and emptiness. We are coming to find in the interpersonal neurobiology of Daniel Siegel, and beginning with the attachment therapy of John Bowlby, that our sense of self is created in relationships.

Attachment research is now holding out that our entire concept of self is formulated through relationships. Those who did not have stable warm attached relationships as infants and toddlers, or were subject to trauma at some point in their life,  are likely to have a non attached worldview. Also subject to attachment issues are folks that have addictions, depression or anxiety. Their brains are not integrated; different parts of the brain, particularly the middle prefrontal cortex,  are not entirely wired together.

Mindfulness practice has been shown to lead to integration, wiring the brains’ different sections back together. This gives validation to the notion that spiritual communities and fellowship aid in developing a more healthy; and complete; mind and body.

“I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”

Mother Teresa

As spiritual or psychological practitioners we need to have some faith and confidence that we are full of love. And that others are full of love also. What gets in the way is our own sense of woundedness, in other words non integration. This is truth for me. I see this when I am consciously connective, warm, intimate, loving. When I feel closed, cold, disconnected, I feel a lack of love, aversion, disgust and there could be a host of other unpleasant descriptors. So when we interact with others, we recognize the disconnect and accept the disconnect with mindfulness. The best place is to accept this within the body. Can I notice the sensations? What are the sensations like? Hard versus soft, hot versus cold, moving versus still etc. Then can I hold this in a space of mindfulness and equanimity? One of the most important tenets of parents who are securely attached is that they are comfortable in their own skin. So what we do is to notice and accept the unpleasant phenomena and create a loving response.

Several years ago I was counseling a young man from a local high school. As is so often the case, I would walk this person to the park and do our session there. My client was aghast when I would freely and happily say hello to anyone who happened in our path. His question was “Why are you doing that”  My response was “to not do that makes no sense!”.

So there is a responsibility with this truth (Dhamma.) How fortunate one is to be exposed to this incredible truth, and have the energy to continue to practice living in this truth. We have the opportunity to have a huge impact on our friends and families, the community and the world through this precious truth.  We can recondition our habitual responses to self and others, and create a more loving world for all.

“Reverence, humility, contentment, gratitude and hearing the good Dhamma, this is the best good luck”

The Buddha

Drugs, Alcohol, Sex- We Can Do Plenty About Addictions. Seminar Saturday January 9, 2016

shutterstock_54830533Are you feeling out of control, anxious, angry, sad and helpless about someone’s compulsive behavior? Are you baffled that despite all evidence they have a debilitating or embarrassing condition, your loved one continues to harm themselves?

Or perhaps despite your best efforts and intentions, you keep going back to behaviors that do not meet your values, do not reflect the best you? Is what you are doing baffling you, and interfering with being a successful and whole human being?

You can help yourself and your loved one with a few simple techniques. Learn to give yourself a chance at happiness by attending this important and worthwhile seminar.

What: A three hour seminar that addresses compulsive behavior such as drugs and alcohol, sex, work, shopping and gambling.  You can expect safety and an emphasis on confidentiality. The leader, Andy Quinn,  has been working with families with compulsions for 25 years.

Who: All family members and/or those struggling with compulsion are welcome. Trust that you will not have to self-disclose or even state why you are present for the seminar.

When and Where: 8AM- 11AM, Saturday January 9, 2015. The building is 215 East Bay St., Suite 5, Lakeland, FL 33801.

What to expect:  Teaching includes

  • The truth about addictions and compulsions
  • What the recent science says about what works to help people recover from addiction
  • How to get help for yourself or your family member who has an addiction or compulsion
  • How to find a reputable treatment program
  • Plenty of question and answer time

How to Register: The seminar cost $50. Space is limited so RSVP soon. Call/text  Andy 863-683-9600 or email abquinn2010@gmail.com

 

Mindfulness of Breathing Meditation Workshop, 8AM-Noon, December 5, 2015

Where: 215 E. Bay Street, Lakeland, FL 33801

Meditation Graphic LogoLargeWhat: Simple Instruction, followed by practice and discussion.
We will have coffee, tea and simple refreshments

Who: Experienced and Inexperienced Students

Cost: Donation to the teacher, Andy Quinn

Please contact Bill Tenpenny 863-604-6191, tenpenny2k@msn.com for RSVP and other questions

Please bring cushions if you prefer to meditate sitting on the floor.

Course Taught by Andy Quinn

Andy Quinn has been practicing Insight Meditation for 22 years. He was taught by Peter Carlson, the founding teacher of Orlando Insight Meditation Group. Andy then was an active member of the Vipassana Meditation Community of S.N Goenka for 10 years. There he meditated and served numerous 10 day retreats. Andy has also sat two retreats at Insight Meditation Society in Barre Massachusetts. Andy has recently been under the guidance of Peter for teacher training for the last two years. Andy is one of the founding members of the Heartland Insight Meditation Group. Andy and Heartland Insight have organized one day Meditation Retreats for 10 years, for the last five at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales.

Please bring cushions if you prefer to meditate sitting on the floor.

One Day Lovingkindness Meditation Retreat, Saturday October 10, 2015

When: October 10, 2015 9 AM—5 PM

Where: Olmsted House, Bok Tower Gardens
1151 Tower Boulevard, Lake Wales, Florida 33853

Bok-TowerLegacy-232x300

Who: Experienced and Inexperienced Students.

Course Taught by Peter Carlson
Peter has practiced meditation for more than thirty years and taught Vipassana (Insight) Meditation for more than twenty years. His training includes three-month courses at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, MA. Peter is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice in Winter Park, Florida. He is  the founding teacher of Orlando Insight Meditation Group.

To Register: RSVP. Contact Andy Quinn, abquinn2010@gmail.com, 863-683-9600

Fees: $25 includes admission to  the Tower, Meditation Instruction, and lunch provided by experience students. Refreshments provided prior to the start of the course. Please send fees to Andy Quinn, 215 E.Bay St. Suite 5, Lakeland, FL 33801.

What: If you prefer to meditate on the floor bring your own cushions.

 

Help for Families of Addicts, Part I

Andy Quinn 2014Just the word “addict” makes us cringe! Then to think that our child or husband may be an addict is certainly unsettling, even devastating. Despite our best efforts at convincing, controlling and cajoling the addict to quit they keep on. And despite all the tragic events and difficulties they just keep on. Truly we are baffled and most of us in the helping professions have been confused and frustrated by trying to help these people.

So what can you do? I tell folks  that if you are going to cure addiction you have to understand the addict. There are a lot of myths about addiction, that if held onto, can actually can contribute to the problem. Even mental health professionals are still working  on outdated models of assisting families and their loved ones. The culture that we live in devalues asking for assistance,  the idea of helping one another.. Having addiction in the family can cause family members to feel shame. These dynamics can cause families to isolate and control, desperately trying to help in ineffective ways. This can lead to increased shame and more acting out by not just the addict but by family members themselves. So misguided, misinformed methods make things worse!

Most of us are going  to be traumatized by the substance using of our loved one. Susan Johnson, an attachment theorist that developed Emotional Focus Therapy, defined trauma  as a psychological wound that leaves us feeling helpless and hopeless. This is how spouses and parents of addicts often feel. When human beings are traumatized, physically, emotionally,  mentally, the mind contracts to a form of tunnel vision. Our assessment of the situation is inaccurate and our reaction is off the mark. We will spin  into anxiety  and shame and become controlling and reactive. We are often  reliving  some of the same trauma from our childhood. I would not trust such a mind for solid decision making.

Lenora gardener

This sense of losing  everything important, the trauma, reinforces a need to isolate. The isolation will reinforce, make stronger the anxiety around having substance abuse in the family. Our American culture values “being strong,” and devalues being vulnerable. Paradoxically what we are typically running from is fear…..”what will people say? (when they find out my son is an addict)”  or “what does it feel like to me to have no control?” So in a round about way it takes courage to face the pain, and relief that I do not have  to have all the answers.

Working with professionals and support groups like Al Anon leads to the most important part of helping the addict….getting help for yourself. Research consistently confirms that people are happier when they have loving relationships and talk about their problems. So getting help for yourself stabilizes the mind. Once the mind is stable, it can become more malleable, flexible to entertain new concepts about the nature of addiction. The open mind will also become more intuitive about how to help my particular addict. This openness can also be conducive to loving our addict, a powerful force in getting better.

We learn to soften toward the addict when we understand that their destructive behavior has to do with impaired neurological functioning, that may have been genetic or due to childhood experiences. Family members learn that their loved one is not of sound mind, their mind so impaired that they can not control their use. Families can learn that the addicted person is suffering, and deserves compassion like we all do. So the first step in getting help for our addict is to begin the process of understanding, forgiving and loving our addict.

by Andy Quinn

Counseling: 5 to Know Before You Go.

Once upon a time I had never seen a counselor.  But I was getting desperate- my life felt like it was falling apart and things were getting to a scary point. I became grudgingly willing to see someone in case there was any way counseling could help me.  I got a recommendation for a therapist from a friend, made an appointment and went…with my tail between my legs.

There, I blurted out my entire life’s story. And in answer to the therapist’s question, I admitted to smoking some pot. She told me she could not work with me unless I gave that up immediately and entirely.  She might as well have shot me in the chest.  I remember leaving feeling stunned, rejected, completely vulnerable and humiliated. She ‘gave’ me an unwanted hug as I left. I was worse off than when I went in.  I suspected help would never come. I was clearly unworthy.

To shorten up a LONG story, I went to self-help meetings for a while and then tried another therapist, and that time it clicked. She and I developed a rapport, and I went on to work hard at recovery for many months. The experience was transformative and set me on a path of recovery and growth. I am happier and healthier than I could ever have imagined. Now I am a therapist, helping others to grow as well.

I remember those feelings: reluctant, desperate, hopeful before the first appointment. I remember the agony of the first appointment- fearing rejection. I remember the mystery of not knowing what was supposed to happen.

Who says what? Will the therapist tell me what is wrong with me? Will they respect me? Will they tell me what to do? Judge me? Isn’t this stuff written down anywhere?!?

If you are new to therapy, here are a few considerations:

 

  • What is the problem and/or what is your goal?  Put it in one sentence if you can. “we fight all the time”, “I get scary mad”, “I need to get a life”, “I want us to feel romantic and sexual again”.
  • Consider how you want to pay for counseling. With the new healthcare laws, many more people have counseling benefits included in their insurance coverage. Call your insurance provider- the number is on the back of your insurance card, and ask “Do I have counseling benefits? Do I have to pay down a deductible before coverage kicks in? What is my co-pay? Where is the list of people I can see?  Would you reimburse me if I saw Susan Truett?” There are other ways to cover counseling as well. For instance if you work for a larger employer, you may have Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits. These can offer up to 7 or 8 sessions for free with very little hassle, and no loss of privacy.
  • Call clinicians and ask about specializations, insurance company contracts and about hours of operation. Counselors rarely work with more than a few insurance companies so do check into the practicalities of payment and scheduling.
  • Meet a few people and look for one you feel good working with.  Therapists are all different and you want to find the one that feels right for you.  You should feel safe, respected, and understood. You should like the therapist.  Don’t be afraid to interview a few and move on  if you don’t feel the connection.
  • Just as therapists are vastly different in temperament, skills, empathy and approaches, people are different as well in the way they receive help.  What feels like help to you is different from what feels like help to another. However you like your help is probably ok. There is help out there for you.

 

 

 

ASK For What You Want

ask for what you want
It’s OK to ASK

When my husband and I first met, he wasn’t interested. He thought I was cute, but crazy. I knew right away he was someone I wanted to get to know better. He was one of 7 men in a classroom of 50 people. I kept hearing some beautiful male voice say things that really impressed me. Soulful things, intelligent things, attractive things. But I couldn’t catch him talking at first. All the men sat in a clump on the far left rear of the classroom. I couldn’t tell who was speaking.

When I finally figured out which body went with that beautiful heart and mind, the semester was getting old. My chances to get his attention were few and getting fewer. I had to make a move or lose the opportunity to meet him. So I asserted myself while he was talking to an entire group of admiring women. He was talking about heading out to hike a long trail. I gave him my business card, and told him to drop me a postcard. He didn’t know me from Adam’s housecat. My card didn’t have an address on it. But he called me. He still wasn’t interested, but that is another story.

I asked for what I wanted. Women outnumbered men in that class 6:1, but it was me he called. Because I let him know I wanted to hear from him.

Our daughter is now 14. We have cleverly kept her penniless, and she is just now deciding that she needs money and that means finding work. She’s willing to work (for anyone but us), but she is not willing to ask for work. So it’s not likely she will get any work. If no one knows what she wants, she is unlikely to get it. And this is true for you, too.

It can be terrifying to ask for what you want. What if people react badly? What if they remain calm, but they think poorly of you later? What if your request or statement puts them on the spot? What if they say yes when they want to say no? What if they resent you?! What if they Hate you!?!

But wait!…What if they…don’t? What if they are glad you asked? What if they give you what you want? What if it’s not a big deal either way? What if they say no, and it’s not a problem? What if we all try to take responsibility for our own stuff? What if we didn’t have to guess at what our partner wanted because he asks for what he wants?

It’s ok to ask. It’s even ok to pitch it, presenting your argument for why giving you what you want is beneficial to them. It’s ok to be told no. You may be severely disappointed. You may even decide you have to leave your job or your relationship, but at least you’ll know. You will know that you are not getting your request fulfilled and now you are free to make your next decision. The alternative can be spending years thinking you will eventually be rewarded at work or within your family, only to find out the thing you desired and even expected is not going to happen.

Asking for what you want increases your chances of getting what you want. Asking does not guarantee your wish will be granted, but successful people agree that not asking seriously decreases your chances of getting what you want.

OK, you say, but how is this asking thing done if one is shy and unsure?

1. Know what you want. Easier said than done! Ask yourself frequently “What am I feeling? What do I need? What do I want?” Be still and listen to that inner voice. It’s there, waiting for you.

2. Know what you are willing to trade. Are you expecting that you have already earned this, or are you asking for a gift? Are you proposing a reciprocal arrangement? What are you willing to give in return? If you want no strings attached, know that, too.

3. Compose your attitude correctly. You deserve good things. (If you are sure this is not true you are reading the wrong article.) Say this 10,000 times until you believe it in your bones. Who has power in the relationship? Do you need to be firm and businesslike? Soft and humble? Charming? Persuasive? Evaluate whether yours is a common, simple request, or is it a big commitment on the part of the giver? Or are you asking for the world? It’s ok to be confident, bold even. It’s ok to ask for a lot, but try to put yourself in the shoes of the other. Show up wearing the right attitude.

4. Find some words. If it’s tricky, or an audacious request, or you are shy or not good with words, compose your request. Miss Manners, Dear Abby, Emily Post all have some phrases that are helpful. I have a friend who is especially good at helping me say all kinds of things in the kindest, clearest way possible. I have at times written notes on index cards when I am nervous about asking. I have even read from the same cards, held in trembling hands, to a person sitting in front of me.

5. Choose your moment. Try to find a time when everyone is rested, fed and not feeling pressured by deadlines or other concerns. Make an appointment if needed, even with a family member, even with your spouse.

6. Set the tone. Sometimes I say “I want to ask a favor, but whatever you decide is fine.” Or “I have thought about this a lot, and I feel I need this/deserve this. Feel free to take some time to think about it, because this is important.” This gives people an idea of the relative importance of your request.

7. Make the ask. Be succinct. Then stop talking to underline the fact that the next move is theirs. “Why don’t you send me a postcard?” “Can I please have a Coca-Cola?” “I would prefer an ocean view.” “Our room is not satisfactory, do you have another room you can put us in?” “Do you want to meet me sometime for a meal?” “I’d like to have a shot at that promotion.” “Is it possible that I could work from home?” “Do you have any work that I could do for you?” “Could you find some time to listen to me while I tell you about a problem I’m having?” “Thanks for the advice, but what I really need is for you to just listen.” “Will you marry me?”

8. Set a time frame. Some answers are immediate, some deserve time. Suggest a time frame. “Do you need time to think about it? Can you let me know by tomorrow/next week?”

9. Let it go. People are going to do what they are going to do. You will be happier if you let go of notions about what other people should do. They make their choices the best they know how, just like you do. There are many variables that you will never know about. So respect their decisions, and now, armed with your answer, yes or no, you can make your own choices.

10. Practice this over and over and over. It gets easier. The benefits are freedom, knowledge and self-respect, honesty, intimacy, and greater success and satisfaction in personal, work and financial relationships. Practice with smaller things often, push yourself to address all the big things (you know what they are because they make you feel nervous) until you get really good at asking for what you want.

One-Day Mindfulness Meditation Retreat – Bok Tower

Bok Tower Gardens provides a peaceful setting for a day of meditation. Participants will enjoy:

Bok-TowerLegacy-232x300

  • Introduction and Dharma talks with time for questions and discussion
  • Sitting and walking meditation for beginning and experienced meditators
  • Easy access to outside garden space as an alternative for walking meditation
  • Covered dish vegetarian lunch coordinated by members of the Central Florida Insight Meditation Society. Drinks and paper goods provided.

Course Taught by Peter Carlson
Peter has practiced meditation for more than thirty years and taught Vipassana (Insight) Meditation for more than twenty years. His training includes three-month courses at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, MA. Peter is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice in Winter Park, Florida. See Mindfulness of Breathing for a guided meditation of this technique.

When: Saturday April 18, 2015 | 9 AM – 5 PM

Where:
Olmsted House, Bok Tower Gardens, 1151 Tower Boulevard, Lake Wales, Florida 33853

Fee: $25 includes entrance into Bok Tower Gardens

Please bring:  Bring cushions if you prefer to meditate sitting on the floor. The floor is made of hard tile so you may consider a small carpet square or rug. Experienced students may bring a veggie dish. Contact Sharon Hodges at sharonphodges@gmail.com if you are interested.

To Register: Contact Andy Quinn at 863-683-9600 or abquinn2010@gmail.  To reserve your spot, send a $25 check or money order  made out to “Andy Quinn” to 215 E.Bay St., Suite 1, Lakeland FL 33801. Cancellations less one week prior are non refundable.

 

Twelve-Point Inspection Checklist for Relationships

In the summertime, many of us take to the road and travel by car. We are bound for New Orleans, Wisconsin, New England, California or my home state, Florida. With car travel imminent, a lot of folks take their cars to the mechanic to get a check up- just to make sure their cars are road-worthy. A good twelve point car inspection can make all the difference between enjoying the ride, or spending precious vacation time waiting for repairs.

We maintain our cars, bodies, houses, gardens, tools, gear and even careers.

But if I say you must also inspect and maintain your marriage, what do you think? “I have to take her out for a meal” “I need to get some more attractive sleep clothes” “I could be nicer to my partner”. Many of us will holler “I already cook for her/let him go camping/clean the house/ bring home the paycheck!” This is comparable to saying “I already put gas in the car, what more do you expect me to do?!”

Continue reading Twelve-Point Inspection Checklist for Relationships