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CHRISTINE BATES

Passati Counseling & Direction
Mindful Nashville Leadership Team/Facilitator

1. How did you get started in meditation/mindfulness practice?

I got involved via entering family recovery in 1985, between my junior and senior years at Rhodes. My fledgeling attempts at meditation began there, and working other parts of the program definitely caused an increase in mindfulness, although I wouldn’t have known to call it that at the time. As I continued to search and read, I began to notice what I experienced as a particular tone of voice that my favorite authors (although writing on different subjects) had in common. When I turned my attention to see where that “tone of voice” came from, I realized what they had in common was this dedication to developing mindfulness and wisdom.

2. You mention “family recovery.” We hear a lot about how mindfulness helps people in recovery from addictions and compulsions in terms of riding out urges and moving beyond craving. How does mindfulness help their family members and other loved ones?

Not everyone has the type of brain that finds significant relief through alcohol or other substances; in fact, most people had to find other ways to leave, numb, or explain away (i.e., distort) experiences that were too overwhelming for a developing body/heart/mind system in childhood. And even if you didn’t grow up in the microcosm of an addicted or mentally ill family, the truth is that all of us grew up in this macrocosm shaped by voracious consumerism, aggression, and confusion about our true relationship to what we call “nature.” We need to recover from socially acceptable forms of self-delusion. So for all of us growing up in this culture, regaining awareness of the body and a sense of belonging in life is crucial for navigating, whether you are dealing with the chronic illness of a loved one or other life events. Mindfulness is not all it takes, but mindfulness makes it possible.

3. How did the process of ordaining as teacher/lay minister in the Embracing Simplicity Contemplative Order change the way you teach meditation?

Besides the deepening of my own healing and practice - which in itself brought significant effect - the undertaking of Dharmacharya training gave me a context for practice that helped me see through the myths about meditation that can be such a hindrance for people. It also allowed me the experience of finding the path that had always been a home for me, but had been temporarily obscured by cultural conditioning and circumstances. I think that as a result I teach from a place of deep empathy for that search, as well as being able to offer hope that one’s authentic path can be found.

4. How do I know if I’ll belong at Embracing Simplicity Nashville? (the meditation group that meets at Mindful Nashville on Sunday evenings)

ESN is a drop-in meditation and discussion group, so of course we change to some degree from week to week. But in general, since we began as a group in February 2014, we have been diverse - to varying degrees - in terms of age, gender identification, sexual orientation, race, and even religion. What I see our practitioners having in common is a genuine desire to express  the nature of compassion and wisdom. They are practicing to co-create a safe space for themselves and others while breaking repetitive patterns that cause suffering. If this work calls to you, you are welcome to come practice with us any Sunday at 6:30pm!

“It is good to train the mind. Not one’s father, nor one’s mother, nor any other person can do for you as much as your own trained mind can do.”
— Dhammapada/Sayings of the Buddha