Moving Mindfully through the Day

January 28, 2014 1 Comment
It's being here now that's important. There's no past and there's no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can't relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don't know if there is one.” ― George Harrison

It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.” ― George Harrison

This week, Time Magazine features “Mindfulness” on its cover and mindfulness discussions are all over the Internet. Something new?  Something useful? The next trendy solution to the “world’s problems”?  

Over 20 years ago, I had an automobile accident that changed my life.  The injuries brought years of pain and suffering which my family* and I endured.  As part of my recovery, I traveled to a pain clinic in Florida.  When I returned home with the same pain, I relied heavily on a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living:  Using the Wisdom of your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness.   The book’s message of the universality of suffering in our lives and the accessibility of coping skills to heal or transcend hopelessness was an awakening for me and reinforced the message of the pain clinic that you are not your pain.

In his book, Kabat-Zimm describes the University of Massachusetts Medical School MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) Program and its applications for use in daily life.  Meditation, mindfulness, yoga and breath work are building blocks of the program.  MBSR requires big-time commitment with 45 minute sessions for body scan, meditation, and yoga (substitute Qigong here for me) daily.  I never have and never will spend hours meditating, or body scanning or even breathing with purpose.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, is a practice that enriches my days and frees my spirit.

What is mindfulness?  It is as simple as being in the moment, moment by moment.  (Remember the Karate Kid…wax on wax off?) Mindfulness is also as complicated as slowing our busy-mind-syndrome where thoughts bounce back and forth between what happened in the past and what might happen in the future.  Mindfulness:  “All there is ever, is the now.”

Mindfulness is a lovely habit that can wind through the day, enhancing and calming the spirit.  In this crazy, busy world, how do we get to a place of living in the now?  First of all, no one–not the Dali Lama, not John Kabat-Zinn, not Thich Nhat Hanh is mindful 24/7.  Second, in my experience, mindfulness becomes a habit when ground work is laid through meditation.

Meditation is a powerful mind tool that  can lead to more positive feelings,  emotional stability, and clearer focus during daily life.  My own experience is that without meditation, my mind would never recognize that slowing down and being in the moment is possible.

I meditate a minimum of 20 minutes most day.  I end the meditation with an intention of mindfulness about a particular issue as I move through the rest of my day. I may tell myself that I will be mindful of my breath.  Through the day, I breathe deeply, but naturally.  I may be mindful of saying a kind word and smiling at people I meet.  I may be mindful of eating healthy food and drinking plenty of water.  The subject of my mindfulness doesn’t matter as much as the consistency of my practice.  What I want to do is align my mindful thoughts to something that enriches my, or someone else’s,  life today, in real-time.

If you want to try mindfulness, you may decide that you will be fully present each day when you brush your teeth.  You will focus on taste, feel, and movement of the act of brushing– beginning from walking to the bathroom and picking up the toothbrush to spitting and wiping off.  No worries if your mind wanders to what you need to do when you go to work, how cold it is outside, or other thoughts.  Just label them as “thoughts” and return to the ritual of brushing.  Or, make a cup of tea and think of nothing besides pouring, brewing and sipping.

If you are interested in meditation, you might start with an app like Headspace – Free Introduction to Meditation.  I like this app because the narrator Andy Puddicombe sounds like a cross between Marcus Buckingham ( a serious crush) and the Geico Gecko (another crush).  The app starts out with 10 minute segments and is really easy to follow.  

Or, you might try Qigong Meditation – YouTube 20 Minute Exercise.  The presenter, Bill Douglas, is a top world authority on Tai Chi and Qigong for stress management and health, is the Tai Chi Expert for DrWeil.com and the creator of Prevention Magazine’s Tai Chi Tutorial.

No matter where you start, my hope is that you will  move mindfully through your days cultivating health, vitality, mindfulness and deeper connection to your life and the people in it.

 

*PS.  To my wonderful children.  I was never a perfect parent, we know that.  You sometimes felt deserted and frustrated during the “lost” periods in my life.  Thank you.  Thank you for your steadfast belief in my goodness and thank you for the power of your love.  You saved my life.  You were and are the reasons I breathe in and out each day.  I love you.

Filed in: Qigong

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  1. Linds says:

    Hi there – I found my way here via your daughter, and I am delighted I did so! I have first hand experience of pain clinics here in the UK, and I have been on a mindfulness course as well. I also have the same book. Among others. I struggle with the meditation, I confess, and know I must keep going until it becomes second nature. I have CRPS which developed after a classroom accident 6 years ago. Thank you for your words. They are immensely encouraging.

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