is the practice of being fully aware of the present moment without
judging. John Kabat-Zinn brought a
greater awareness to the practice back in 1970’s when he began teaching
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). It is still taught worldwide. I
studies MBSR at Duke Integrative Medicine, NC several years ago. It’s a gift we
give ourselves when we develop the ability to be in the present moment. It’s also the practice of a lifetime. Most of here in the West don’t sit in a lotus
position for several hours a day chanting or focusing on a mantra (a single
word or phrase). Most Americans are more
concerned about the past or the future and are missing whatever is happening in
the present. In general we are a busy,
pre-occupied population. But, most of us
are also looking for ways to improve the quality of our lives. We are searching for that which will enhance
our daily experiences and not leave us feeling so worn out and tired. Tools, we are looking for the tools we can
use to fix or to shape or to color our lives so that we are able to take deeper
breaths, appreciate the beauty of nature and relish the precious moments of
connection with those we love.
prayer is a powerful tool. It’s my first
choice. Time to communicate with my God,
time to tell Her my concerns, to offer up thanksgiving for all my blessings and
time to simply sit and listen. It
doesn’t have to be formal prayer. My day
is lifted up and given over to God, Jesus Christ, before I even rise from the
bed. Then, if it’s a day of unending
activity which I must confess is not unusual, I still know that I am in prayer
mode throughout all the business.
the practitioner is called upon to focus on his or her breath. Sometimes a yoga practice may only involve
pranayama, breathing techniques. There
are many, some more elaborate than others.
The simplest one involves watching one’s breath. I encourage my students at the very beginning
of practice to simply notice their breath.
“Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath, the in and the
out, the up and the down, the rise and the fall.” After years of beginning practice this way, I
simply need to think the words and I feel calmer. When a group of us are all focusing on our
breath at the same time, the entire energy level in the room changes from
charged to serene.
breathing technique that can be used anywhere anytime is to simply take a deep
breath. Breathe all the way down into
your belly and then release it. Want to
make it even more effective, sigh it out.
Oh, not just a little sigh, make it a full “haaaaa!” Don’t believe it’ll make a difference? Try it right now, do it a few times and then
just notice. Don’t judge, just observe
if you feel any different. I attach the
name of Jesus to my deep breaths. It’s a
mini-prayer that I can do anywhere, anytime.
is also an opportunity for me to practice mindfulness. I like to have a large mug of tea next to me;
my favorite spiral bound journal, an easy flowing ballpoint pen and a pleasant
space. I usually write in my sun
room. I have a nice chair and ottoman
and the room faces my garden, the bird feeders and a small waterfall. It’s a yellow room with much of my favorite
memorabilia on the shelves. I begin with
a prayer and then write my three pages.
I am fully there in the time and space.
It centers me for the day. It
leaves me feeling grounded and calm.
way for me to practice mindfulness is when I am eating. It’s a reciprocal process in that when I
focus on the process of eating, my eating becomes healthier. I’m always fine tuning my diet. I’m a moderate person, meaning I don’t usually
go overboard when I’m making changes.
I’m a sure and steady kind of gal. I share this with you because while I
know a lot about vegan diets and vegetarian diets, I have not fully embraced
any restrictive form of eating. I avoid
certain foods that I think aren’t my best choices, like things with sugar,
artificial colors or flavorings, foods that are heavily salted or have
preservatives. I try to eat mostly fresh
vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and chicken. I love a glass of wine periodically and
sharing an ice cream with friends or especially with a grandchild, is a real
treat for me. I know how important it is
to eat a “good” diet. I’m also
aware of the global impact my choices have on the rest of the world.
trained at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, breakfast was always
silent. It was a very educational
experience for me. I am a social eater.
I love to sit with family and friends and share a meal and conversation.
If there’s no one around, I don’t really care if I eat or not. I’m an
“eat-to-live” person, not a “live-to-eat” person. In order to make the best food choices for me
I decided to simply pay close attention to the eating experience. Have you ever tried the “raisin”
experiment? You place a single raisin in
your mouth and you don’t chew it. You
allow it to dissolve very very slowly.
You notice the texture, the sweetness.
You think about how it came to become a raisin, where it was grown, who
harvested it. It can take 10 or even 15
minutes to eat that one raisin. It can
bring you to a whole new appreciation for every bit you take.
your eating environment like? Do you
take your time and savor each bite or have you just gone through the drive-thru
and are eating as you go? What’s dinner
like? Is the TV on or is the computer in
front of you? What if you simply sat at
the table and focused on the food you are putting into your mouth and your
body? If you ate mindfully would your
choices be different? Mine are. We are
what we eat. What and how we feed our
bodies, our minds and our spirits determines every cell of our being. Slow down, breathe deeply, say grace before your meal and
savor each bite and especially each moment of your life.