If you meditate and are living (or have lived) with any illness that is significant for you, or if you are the primary caregiver for such a person, IMCW’s new Living Mindfully With Illness Together (LMWIT) sangha may be just what the (meditating) doctor ordered. LMWIT is designed for mindfulness practitioners who are living in some way with illness. What specific condition you have, and whether its impact on your daily life is mild, moderate, or severe is immaterial. What matters is that you experience it as something significant in some way in your life and that you practice mindfulness.
The range of conditions that people bring to LMWIT is broad and includes such conditions as chronic pain or fatigue, autoimmune illness, cancer, degenerative or infectious diseases, chronic injury or overuse phenomena, and many others. It may be chronic, progressive, relapsing/remitting, or in remission or even cured but with a lasting emotional, cognitive, or physical impact. One additional type of illness that people bring to LMWIT comprises symptoms that doctors have not been able to diagnose or treat successfully.
The other central component of LMWIT is having (or intending to have) an ongoing mindfulness practice. Just what this consists of is quite variable, from a longstanding daily practice to something less intensive but still regular and ongoing. Mindfulness practice opens the door to establishing a new relationship with your illness, a relationship built on kindness and compassion for yourself and others, living more intentionally day to day, listening to what your body is telling you, and moment by moment non-judgmental presence to whatever is happening in each moment, both within and around you.
Structure and Meetings
We meet every Thursday evening from 7:30-9:00 pm ET on Zoom. The Zoom format enables people to attend who because of their illness would not be able to go to an in-person meeting. It also makes it possible for people throughout North America and other countries to attend, such as Europe, the Middle East, Canada, and California.
Our meetings follow an agenda like that of other IMCW sanghas, with flexibility when needed, as follows:
- Welcoming pause Brief
- Check-in 20 min
- Meditation (lightly guided, or not) 20 min
- Talk 20 min
- Discussion of a Question or topic 30 min
- Silent closing Brief
At check-in, participants share whatever they would like with the group. We then meditate for 20 min, either lightly guided by Paul Jones or in silence, depending on participant preference. Next, Paul (see bio here) or occasionally a guest gives a 20-minute talk, usually on how specific aspects of the dharma relate to living with illness. In the final segment for 30 minutes, we discuss a topic related to the talk or chosen by those present. If the group is large, we might start in dyads (breakout rooms), and move to the full group. Each meeting opens and closes with a very brief (under 1 minute) silent pause.