When I was 8 or 9, I loved whirling around and around in circles with my friends, over and over again until we fell down, laughing hysterically. I so loved that whirly whooshy feeling of spinning madness that I would impatiently leap up and do it all over again right away.
At the time, I didn’t know that I would continue seeking that whirling feeling for years to come. I have spun and whirled impatiently, barely stopping to be present in my life at all, instead anticipating the next adventure, always looking ahead.
When I was an unhappy young woman in high school, I looked to the future as a way to avoid a murky, uncomfortable sense of impending doom. Now, I see it as trying to fill that black hole in the middle of my belly and my soul.
Before high school ended, I witnessed the astonishing transformation of my irritable and quick to snap mother when she began studying Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. I saw the evidence before my eyes as she became a calmer, more relaxed and easy-going woman as she sat in meditation, twice a day.
However, I was filled with the scorn of a rebellious adolescent, despite the visible change in my mother. I would continue to pursue the whirling dervish for twenty more years, until I had what my spiritual teacher today calls a “spiritual breakthrough” (although in my darker moments I still call it an old fashioned nervous breakdown).
Meditation and mindfulness came in to my life years ago now, when I was ready to seek solutions to the whirling black dervish eating my soul. My yearning for peace led me to study with Buddhist teachers, Jesuits, and yoga teachers; in Canada, the States, and follow a life long dream to study in India. I became a yoga teacher, finished my Masters in transformative learning and began to study Life Coaching and Mindfulness.
Although popularized now in mainstream media, mindfulness and meditation were initially viewed with skepticism in the 1970s and 80s when Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Tara Brach and many others were bringing these ideas from the east to the west. Now, there is world-wide acceptance as research has proven that mindfulness and meditation practices reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety and increase calmness, relaxation and happiness.
I don’t like to spin and whirl much any more, although I can still slide into the swirling insanity that dominates our culture if I’m not mindful. Today, I have created practices to ground and support me, like yoga most days, sitting daily in meditation by myself and with others and eating one meal a day mindfully. I’m mostly happy and joyous, and when I slide into old feelings of despair, I usually remember that I have a choice. Just for today, I mindfully choose this moment and I reach across space and time to you, as you read this, in your present moment. Awaken, tenderly, in just this moment.
Susan is offering a free workshop tonight, January 27 from 7-8. In this workshop, Susan will lead you through a guided meditation and provide you with more information around mindfulness. She is also offering an 8 – week mindfulness programs that will deeper your insight as Susan leads you through the practice of mindfulness, gentle yoga, group dialogue, and home practices. This series, beginning February 3, also includes a full day silent retreat.
Susan teaches mindfulness, yoga and is a life coach in private practice in Kingston.