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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mindfulness

In the last three weeks, the words mindfulness and meditation keep passing me by and they have happened in different ways.  First, my sister gives me a book she recently finished called "The One who is not busy - Connecting with work in a Deeply Satisfying Way- by Darlene Cohen.  For those of us that are on the go - there is an art of being busy - how can one be busy while still practicing total presence of mind in the actual act that is being performed.  And what are the benefits? Why even read something like this?  So that you don't feel drained and make the most of the busyness in your life.   We all have 1001 things to do and our minds and hands are always multi-tasking.  Sometimes we wonder if this will end.  Yet what this book taught me was making the most of the busyness we have in our life and reminding ourselves that one way of preventing burnout is by being fully present.   Some people call this meditation - I call it present, mindfulness in waking state.   It is practice, practice, practice.  yet when done over and over again, it does wonders to us - our energy fllow is more in balance -
Ms. Cohen in her book offers various forms of meditative practices that can encourage being present.   What does being present mean? - the act of being fully immersed in thought, body and mind where you are.  It goes into eating meditation - that means, being conscious of what goes into your mouth - and not eating mindlessly.  It means focusing on the breath if you need to center.  It means when you are engaged in a conversation with someone - really listening, actively listening.   There is one meditative practice that she particulalry describes which i find useful - Talking meditation - where when you are engaged in a conversation with someone tuning into your own breath at least three times while listening to the other person speak and while you yourself are talking.   This practice requires a lot of patience with yourself and non-judgement.   

So while reading this, i also co-incidently happen to be taking a course on journaling and meditation - which I had forgotten that i had signed up for.   The book that we are reading is by Jon Kabat -Zinn - Whereever you go, there you are.   Again - the topic of Mindfulness mediation in everyday life.   But he takes it one step deeper - describing the purpose and benefits of mindfulness - the purpose - is to learn to live in harmony with oneself and the world.  But if we dig deeper, it is about questioning our world view, our place in it and cultivating appreciation for each moment we are alive.   it has to do with being in touch and aware.  He gives the example if any of you have read - Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond - where he literally had to take himself out of society to appreciate the beauty of the present moment.  But Jon Kabat- Zinn states that removing yourself from society is not needed - the beauty that Thoreau felt at Walden Pond is all
"within your breath." By focusing your energy/attention on your breath - it reminds you of the present moment and allows you to look at the situation for now - rather than for tomorrow or rather than for yesterday.   The breath is another word for awareness.

Think of a time when you felt truly present - and it could be a concert you were at - and u were so immersed in the music that you were truly there.  or it could be reading a book where u were so in the book. or it could be in an exercise class/or when you are running.  Whatever it is - think about what being present at that moment did to you - how did that make you feel after the experience?

He refers to meditation of "non-doing".  Most people think that meditation means literally not doing anything.  But in fact it is the contrary.  He states "Non-doing simply means letting things be and allowing them to unfold in their own way."   It requires patience on one's part - "scratch the surface of impatience and you will find lying beneath it is subtly or not so subtly, anger.  It is the strong energy of not wanting things to be the way they are blaming someone  (often yourself) or something for it."  The most profound example he gives is a quote by the Dalai Lama when asked about his feelings towards the Chinese -in light of the genocide towards Tibetans - and he responds.  "They have taken everything from us; should i let them take my mind as well."  

What a simple statement yet so profound - and that is mindfulness - being aware of our feelings- that yes anger will arise, sadness will stay, grief will be there - happiness will flourish - but all of this is kept in a large bowl - one by one we drop it into the bowl and let it just be there - be observant of that, but come back to the present.    He gives an analogy of a Mountain - and how talk the mountain is - and imagining ourselves tall and dignified like the mountain - the wind will come, rain will come, snow will come, the sun will shine - all of these will pass and land on the mountain - and the mountain is still there - standing tall in its glorious self - that is what mindfulness is - that all the seasons will pass through - all the events will come and go - and we experience it, but do not let it take our soul away from it. 

Journaling Prompt:
Try doing a meditative practice - focusing on your breath for at least five minutes - inhale and exhale - allow the focus to be on your breath - and as your thoughts come, simply direct them to your breath.   Now with the following Journaling Prompt write for five minutes:
"Who am I when I am not doing."

Happy Journaling!

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