newsletter logo: Sangha Reflections

Spring 2003

The Metamorphosis of the WMC Second Body Practice: Two Perspectives

From Bill Menza:

The bonding result of Second Body Practice among Washington Mindfulness Community members is really quite amazing. By creating greater understanding, it has led to friendships and love among Sangha members. It has also helped participants to deepen their Eight-Fold Path practice in everyday life by doing what the Buddha said is the Practice: noble friends having noble conversations.

The metamorphosis of the Practice in the community has been instructive. It started out as a connecting circle arrangement almost two years ago, and now the arrangement is a dyad. The circle arrangement may have been too demanding because of the time and energy it involved, working with two other people. The dyad arrangement seems to be more efficient. Also, when the Practice was first implemented, there seemed to be some concerns about giving a lot of guidelines to participants, while currently the basic guideline is to let each matched pair work out best a weekly communication with each other. Some use the phone, some e-mail, some have lunch or tea together, and some all three. Participants, on their own, have shown an appreciation for keeping focused on the Practice and the spiritual health of their second body. And although there was a question about matching opposite sex members together, no problems appear to have come from this kind of matching, as some other Sanghas had anticipated and as a result kept matches to the same sex.

Although each round of the Practice has been for four months, some practitioners have continued Second Body Practice with those they have been matched with, kind of indefinitely in one way or another, so that they now have a number of Second Bodies!

From Richard Brady:

Having participated in the first three rounds of the WMCís Second Body Practice (SBP), I have found this practice to have much in common with other mindfulness practices but also some significant differences. Like all other practices, SBP takes commitment. I found my commitment waxed and waned depending on how busy I felt myself to be, how easy or difficult it was to be in contact with my current SBP partners and my feelings about the benefits of those contacts. How similar all this is with other practices!

When I do my daily sitting meditation, I go through periods of doing meditation on the mindfulness trainings, doing loving kindness meditation, doing meditation on feelings, as well as a number of other meditations. Often I will do a particular meditation for several weeks or several months. I have the freedom to choose which practice feels most appropriate to the place in life I find myself. Because my SBP commitment includes others, I donít have the freedom to do it when it feels right and stop when it doesnít. In the latter cases, I get to learn about my resistance, my judgment, my impatience and other significant attributes, learning I am able to avoid when I can choose the practice that suits me.

My experiences with all my SBP partners have been different. Some brought life/practice issues to me that were totally new to me. I learned a lot. Others brought issues that were all too familiar, and I had a hard time listening. I learned a lot. When I shared about my life/practice, it was wonderful to have a partner who listened, and it was also wonderful to have a partner who asked helpful questions, made helpful observations, or shared relevant experiences. From each one, I received a lot. With each SBP relationship, I learned about communication, but in a sense each relationship felt like a different practice.

Although I knew each of my six SBP partners at least a bit before the practice began, I know them all much better now. While the amount of our contact almost inevitably diminished after the conclusion of our round together, I would feel comfortable sharing about my life in a deep way with all of them and would be comfortable if any of them asked to share theirs with me. In fact, very recently a former SBP partner offered to listen to me after I had spoken at a Dharma discussion and was very helpful when I called later in the week. Another SBP partner and I continue to get together on a regular basis to share our life/practice experiences. I see each round of SBP as an opportunity to develop my relationship with two more Sangha members, relationships that will continue to enhance my life (and hopefully theirs) long after our round concludes.

Spring/Summer round of Second Body starts May 18.
E-mail secondbody(at)aol.com by May 16 to sign up.

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