Grant Rix, MEG Director and creator of the Pause, Breathe, Smile programme, was recently asked to take our distinctive 'kiwi' approach to Hangzhou, China.
The group sponsoring this trip run children's holiday programmes and educational courses for adults. They were interested in how MEG's mindfulness approach could bring general wellbeing benefits to their clientele. They hoped to build closer relationships in the process.
"I led a four-day mindfulness meditation retreat about an hour north of Beijing. It was at a beautiful resort in the mountains – iconic really, with the rugged forest-clad limestone peaks providing the backdrop for the retreat. I had a great translator and the jet-lag had subsided so we had a fantastic and fruitful four days. My hosts were wonderful and even though we couldn’t speak so well to each other we still managed to strike a great friendship and share many laughs," says Rix.
Grant was struck by the differences between how the 'outcomes' from mindfulness practice is perceived between our nation and theirs.
"Here in New Zealand, the approach we need to take to mindfulness facilitation is one of showing clear links to science. My experience in China though, was that people were looking for something more – almost something magical. Like a ‘mindfulness magic’ that will increase certain powers or energies. I managed to reign those expectations in on day one. Essentially, that was nothing new as everyone is looking to ‘achieve something’ it is just how they frame the question that is different. What mindfulness teaches us is that the tendency to continuously run away from our present-moment experience into some realm of fantasy is the source of the problem. When we learn to orient our attention to this moment, where all of our life is taking place, then we find the balance and peace we are looking for, and we no longer feel the need for that little something ‘more.’ It is paradoxical, but there you go. The main thing I had to adapt was the way in which I gave the instructions. I found myself speaking about the need to “balance the elements”, which was a language form which really hit the mark," says Rix.
The feedback from the attendees was extremely positive. The New Zealand approach has broad appeal and is quickly appreciated by other cultures and across age ranges. MEG is looking forward to more international sojourns when the time and opportunities arise.