Happy New Year!
In our first post of 2015, we’re going to embark on a journey of exploration into the world of mindfulness. Surely you’ve heard of this word, “mindfulness” somewhere? Possibly at a yoga class? On the radio? In a weight loss group? In therapy? This word mindfulness is elusive and intriguing to some, heavy and uninteresting to others — the second attitude is often enhanced if the word “meditation” comes right after the word “mindfulness.”
I myself have a hard time sitting still and reflecting. The thought of meditating for hours or going on a week-long silent retreat sounds absolutely painstaking to me, and while I respect those who can and are willing to do it, I have always thought “meditation isn’t my thing.” I’ve mentioned before that meditation doesn’t have to be this extreme, long, painstakingly silent process. Rather, it can just be the active experience of breathing — mindful breathing — for short periods of time. Noticing your body, noticing the details of how you feel, allowing thoughts to pass through your mind without judgement, and then letting them melt away — this practice, even for a minute or two, is a brief mindful meditation, and studies have shown that mastering mindfulness is a tremendous tool for dealing with stress, for appreciating life, and for overall wellbeing.
What is Mindfulness?
“Trying to understand mindfulness by its definition is like trying to understand what it is like to fall in love by reading a textbook. You might get a general idea, but you’d be missing out on the best part: what it actually feels like. Mindfulness is all about experience, about the actual aliveness, of each moment. You learn to pay attention on purpose, in the present moment, not because someone said that it would be a good thing to do, but because that is where you find your life.”
– Michael Baime, MD (creator of mindfulness-based programs at University of Pensylvania)
The best way to learn about mindfulness is to experience it first-hand with a guide who can help you with challenges along the way. This guide can be in-person or virtual. In fact, just on YouTube, there are a number of videos that can walk you through mindful meditation sessions right at your computer. Here’s a great example. There are so many more though.
Mindful Meditation at Highland
Starting next week, we’ll be holding a new Mindful Meditation class at Highland every Thursday at 12pm. I hope you’ll join us and engage in a practice that will create a lasting change in your life, one that doesn’t expire when you leave the classroom. You’ll move beyond learning to manage your stress into an ability to appreciate the wonderful life you’ve been given. Your instructor, Suana Renaud, is eager to get started with you, so please consider coming!