The mystery of mindfulness

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Mindfulness has been described as paying attention, non-judgmentally, moment to moment. We observe our perceptions rather than react to them. Sounds radical, doesn’t it? Sir Francis Bacon said:

“We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in one hand, and melting like a snowflake.”

The practice of mindfulness has been around for a long time. Western thought focus on mindfulness came into being in the 19th century. Then along came Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 1970’s and when he founded the Center for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Massachusetts, people began to realize that the “theory” wasn’t as far-fetched as “they” thought. Mindfulness is now being taught in corporations, hospitals, schools, organizations and churches.

Can all this actually be done? Yes! It sounds radical (oops, said that already!) but stop and think for a moment – what if you could “see” your experiences with clarity that is untouched by judgement? If you could do that you’d be better able to make decisions based on what actually is, rather than what your fantasy might be.

I just came in from clearing out my car in preparation for its annual weatherization maintenance  at our local repair shop. While picking up stray napkins and directions for restaurants’/shops I had a fleeting thought that I should put directions in an envelope for my glove compartment. But before I started to stress out about what color envelope it should be (to stand out in the compartment), I stopped myself. I could only do one thing at a time. Getting an envelope was step 3 or 4 not now. THAT action, my fellow Journalers, is practicing mindfulness. I was actually in the car not at my desk searching for a colored envelope!

Last week I wrote about stress and all the things we react to in our lives that rob us of our joy. We are multi-tasking ourselves to death. We react to events and emotions. We react to fear and regret. I am sure your parents/teachers/mentors all told you that you couldn’t change your past and you had limited abilities to change your future. Why stress about it?

“Listen to your longing, you are your heart.”  Jon Kabat Zinn

The basic elements of mindfulness are our bodies, our breaths and our minds. In mindfulness they work together to keep us from living life on “auto pilot” to living in the moment. Next time you start stressing about something,  notice if your jaw is tensing, your hands are clenching or if your heart is racing.

Your breath, which we never think about, is essential to life itself. If we become aware of it we will realize that the breath is a bridge to our thoughts and emotions.

People think that mediation (a form of mindfulness) means clearing our minds of thought. But if we practice mindfulness we notice our thoughts and emotions – we don’t get caught up in them. (An action, that always leads to stress!)

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll share my experiences of mindfulness meditation, the various types of meditation, how to enhance your journal and some resources.

“Til next time,

~Sallie

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