One of the most eye-opening experiences I have had recently occurred during my health coaching training class. We had to close our eyes as our trainer took us through a mindfulness exercise.
“Whoa. I don’t meditate!” I thought to myself.
As it had been explained earlier in the course, the key component to realizing optimal health is being fully aware of how you live your life. We often move so fast through our day that we do things out of habit and lack of awareness. The thought is that this practice would enhance the ability to make changes that last.
I think the exercise lasted for about 10 min. I felt like I did it right, because a few things happened to me:
My sinuses cleared
I was fully awake and aware, but my body went to sleep so to speak. I really felt like I separated from my body.
I felt my facial muscles release.
I became aware of sensations that I hadn’t notice before.
I came out of the practice wide awake and refreshed.
I know this is really out there for some of you. Had you told me that I would be practicing mindfulness daily a month ago, I would have said,
Yet here I am. OK, its not quite daily, but the mere fact it has entered into my life is pretty remarkable.
I was motivated to learn a little more about the whole idea, mostly to convince myself I wasn’t subscribing to something on the fringes and came across Mindfulness for Beginners, by Jon Cabat-Zinn. The Kindle version is a little cheaper–it doesn’t come with any accompanying .mp3s.
Zinn is credited with bringing the concept of mindfulness in to healthcare back in the 70s. Now it is used for a variety of therapeutic functions to help patients manage stress. In this book, he slowly introduces the novice to several concepts of mindfulness in very short, easily digestible chapters.
Mindfulness can’t really do anything for you unless you actually practice it. And this is the hard part. It is very unsettling to practice something that doesn’t really have a particular goal (one of the keys is to be non striving), but the benefit is in the practice. In the practice, you will become more apt to choose how to respond to things happening around you. Even those hard-to-change nasty thoughts you carry about yourself cannot affect you if you CHOOSE not to be phased by them.
Have you developed your own mindfulness practice? What has been your experience?