David Robert Jones, MS LPC

Welcoming Presence (21)

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15 minute writing timer. Ready. Set. Go.

After several years of dreaming and planning, last Spring I created a mindfulness meditation course called “Peace and Well-Being in an Age of Anxiety.” Boise State University gave me the opportunity to teach this course during the Fall 2023 semester and again this semester. There has been a high-level of interest and engagement in the course, so it is also on the schedule for Fall 2024 and I will be adding another course called “Developing Strong Relationships.”

Creating and facilitating the Peace and Well-Being course has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Pure joy, really.

The course learning objectives can give you a good idea of what we’re up to:

- Define, identify, and observe what anxiety and peace feel like in our body
- Develop more attuned and congruent relationships with our thoughts, emotions, and physical bodies
- Engage in and reflect on in-class mindfulness exercises
- Observe our thinking mind
- Identify, feel, and attend to opposites of cognition, emotion, and somatic sensation
- Examine multiple ways of experiencing peace and well-being in the present 
- Explore new ways of relating to our nervous system
- Reflect on current concentration and focusing skills  
- Develop and enhance concentration and focusing skills through practice and reflection
- Develop and reflect on a regular mindfulness practice 

In many ways, this class is a real-life beauty-from-ashes story. Out of the ashes of my life that burned down in October of 2015 as a result of a traumatic brain injury, came something more beautiful than existed before. In fact, it was the fires of the years of post-TBI recovery that burned away what needed to be burned away and brought me to that which is solid and unmoving. 

During those years, I learned how to be with life as it is as I am. I experienced firsthand that I am unchanging loving awareness in which the ever-changing flow of life arises.

In essence, I am. 

I learned practices that connected and continue to connect me to a way of being - to Being.

While that may seem trite or ethereal from the outside, nothing is more important, in my opinion, to the experience of liberation and living a full and meaningful life.

Out of the ashes arose a clear and constant heartfelt desire to be with others as they wake up to who they are, why they are here, and what they long to do with their lives while on this wondrous orb we call Earth.

At the core of all the practices is what we begin to experience as the ground of our being - welcoming presence. 

As a therapist, one of the enduring indicators of therapeutic success is the client-therapist relationship, and one of (if not the) most important factors of that relationship is the therapist’s complete and total welcoming presence toward self and other.
At the beginning of a long retreat with Dr. Richard Miller, a psychologist and the founder of iRest, he began the retreat with these words that capture what I am saying:

“We’re not coming together to help one another. We’re coming together to be with ourselves and with each other as we are, knowing that when we are with ourselves and others as we are, we cannot help but change.”

Truly, welcoming presence is at the heart of personal and interpersonal change. 

As students are learning what it is like to be welcoming presence, they are watching themselves gradually change their relationships with fear, trauma, anxiety, depression, self-sabotage, habits, compulsions, sleep issues, relational issues, and life in general.

Through the interactive readings, the in-class practices, the reflective journals, the community of the class setting, and the individual practices, students are experiencing freedom, even liberation, engaging somatically, emotionally, and cognitively with principles like the following:

That which we welcome cannot bind us. 

Life is only unbearable when we demand it change. 

Thoughts are things.

Emotions are things. 

Sensations are things. 

Things come and things go. 

We are not our thoughts, emotions, and sensations.

We watch and are present with that which comes and goes.

We always have the right response to every situation. 

Relax and release.

Let it be. Let it go. Let it in.

Trust the compass.

Embedded in the readings and experience is a strong neuroscience lens from texts and guest speakers that provides the “hard science” for how we are rewiring our brains and changing our lives through these practices. We learn how to activate our PNS, how to use body-sensing and breath-sensing as doors into higher states of consciousness, deep relaxation, insight, creativity, and healing.

We move our bodies, noticing the edges of tension and relaxation, discovering parts of our bodies that have been ignored too long.

We become attuned to subtle sensations in the body and mind so that we can hear the “whispers” of the body before it has to scream at us. 

We experiment. We are playful with the process. We stay curious. We inquire. 

And we grow together. Teacher is student and student is teacher. We laugh. We cry. We sit quietly sometimes. We listen. We go outside and walk and wait and hear and see and feel. We learn to face what is asking to to be faced and we even find freedom from chains that have bound us for far too long. 

What a journey. What an incredible journey.



Ready to take the next step?

I’d love to hear from you. Contact me via social media or at [email protected].