Recently, I was facilitating the silent retreat day for our 8-week Mindfulness Program at Janati Yoga School. During the walking meditation, as I mindfully placed each foot delicately in front of the other, with awareness of heel, ball and toes landing on the earth, I felt so wobbly I wondered if I’d fall over. Walk slowly and stay steady. (I’m intensely aware of my hurriedness in life when I’m walking in meditation).
Suddenly, I noticed the hole in the left big toe of my black sock. And in a breath, felt exposed. As though people would notice the raw hole in my soul instead of the hole in my sock.
Over the last 20 years, I have cultivated solid skills and knowledge as well as extensive experience and training in facilitating Mindfulness Programs. Yet in that moment my inadequacy washed over me like fierce, cold waves, leaving me breathless. Returning to the breath. Breathing in, breathing out.
Mindfulness invites a deepening interior presence while cultivating moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness. Each week’s theme and the one-day silent retreat is rooted in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s brilliant Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
Practicing mindfulness is simple but not easy. It requires a commitment to practice and a continual surrender to being here and now as well as:
* becoming more compassionate and kind toward yourself (really hard!) and others
* increasing awareness of this present moment
* reacting less to the exterior world.
People often say, Oh, I don’t have time; or my mind is way too busy; or I can’t imagine sitting still. If we become human “doings” instead of human “beings” we lose a lot, says Kabat-Zinn.
So give it a try anyway, looking for evidence that it helps you. The more spacious we become in our awareness and presence, the more relaxed we are. Research shows that learning mindfulness lowers stress and improves focus. It allows deeper connection with the body, the mind and with others. And best of all, brain chatter is reduced. (Read more about Mindfulness at Mindful.org)
Jon Kabat-Zinn offers a clear road map about Cultivating Mindfulness in How To Meditate. But the real meditation is how you live your life, he says. Although we need to practice by sitting in meditation and learning about it, it’s really about bringing mindfulness into your daily life.
What are you doing with your wild and precious life?
The poet Mary Oliver asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
How do we deeply embody presence and be with ourselves and each other, owning and knowing our own strength and beauty in the raw, painful face of suffering and fear? Especially post-election, when the results can tumble one into despair and hopelessness?
But I do yearn to stay balanced and sane in this precious life, especially through difficult change.
And so, when my inadequacies peek out of the hole of my sock and my heart feels the shock and sorrow of the post-election world, mindfulness teaches me to respond to myself and others, even Trump and his voters, with compassion and loving