“Moments in time are present, even when we are unaware.” Quote: Mine (I think).
My journey towards mindfulness continues. It takes time. Not just time, but an acute, purposeful awareness of time and all its moments.
I have enhanced this endeavor to be ever more mindful and present by enrolling in a course on mindfulness. This particular course is “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” and is taught at UMass Medical Center For Mindfulness.
This course is based on the work of Jon Kabat Zin known as the Godfather of Modern Mindfulness, and offers value beyond measure for those of us who desire to live life fully awake and aware, while having the tools to decrease the effect that stress has on our bodies, minds and souls.
So far, I have added meditation to my tools for living mindfully, and as of today have worked up to a successful meditation practice of 20 minutes. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time but it is no easy task. Sure I can sit in silence, close my eyes and breathe. But getting my mind be free of thought (the real essence of meditation practice) is the challenge. This is not Guided Imagery, which I love and use regularly to calm and center myself.
I have been an avid fan of Guided Imagery since I first started my study of Clinical Social Work/ Psychotherapy in Grad School in the 80’s. This is a gentle form of meditation that allows you to relax and listen to a soothing voice that guides your mind to a beautiful, safe place, or assists you in paying attention to the cycle of your own breath, and/or offering statements of lovely positive affirmations for you to listen to while peaceful music plays in the background. It is profoundly healing for anxiety, depression, chronic pain, loss, grief etc. etc. etc. My “go to” Guided Imagery gurus are Belleruth Naperstat and Boho Beautiful aka Juliana Semenova. They both offer beautifully scripted narratives to take you to a more pleasant place in your mind, especially helpful when your mind is being your own worst enemy. Don’t we do a friggin number on ourselves with the thoughts we have? Yes we do. All the time!
So although Guided Imagery is and will continue to be one of my self care tools, I now know that this is not Meditation in the true sense of the practice. And thats ok. I will continue to practice Sitting Meditation, with the goal of one day being able to meditate for 30 minutes or more with absolutely nothing in my mind. That will be cool.
The next mindfulness tool that I am learning and continue to practice, is to be Conscious of being. Being vs Doing is a powerful concept. We are always “doing” something. But, we are not always conscious of what we are doing, how we feel about what we are doing, or aware of our thoughts about what we are doing, while we are doing it. Crazy right?
Being is living consciously. Being, is a deliberate choice to be aware of our inner selves while Doing. Right now, in this moment I am thinking. I am aware and deliberately thinking. I am typing the words that I am thinking. I feel the keys under my fingertips as I type. I hear the tic tic of the keys as my fingers work. I feel my wrists resting on the edge of the keyboard and I feel a sense of calm contentment in this moment as I write these words.
In this moment I am Being. I am doing this thing called writing, but I am fully aware of participating with my entire being. I am awake and alive in this moment as I consciously, actively engage in writing.
So much of the time we are floating in our heads. We are either making stuff up about the future or worrying about something that happened in the past. We are engaged in activity but buried in our thoughts. Time passes and we don’t even know what happened in the moments or hours that just “flew by” because we were lost in our thoughts, trapped in our heads.
“Where did the time go?” we often ask ourselves. Well, it was here all along, we just were not present so we missed it. I for one don’t want to miss any more time. Too much has passed already. I am choosing to practice being in it, fully conscious and aware as often as I can.
And so, on goes my journey into mindfulness. Feel free to join me. It’s a gift to ourselves and it’s free. 🙂