Use the Mindful practice of STOP anytime to keep daily stress from building up, and anytime you are feeling extra pressure.
Welcome to the Fall Season. It may be helpful to remember that this is a transitional time …and a Jimmy Buffet song that packs a profound mindfulness message.
Awareness and Kindness are both integral to the development of mindfulness; and while I am being poetic, you are probably reading this because you have heard some of the science. Mindfulness is a mind/body skill that measurably benefits us in a variety of physiological and psychological ways.
With awareness of the present moment, your busy mind will not be an obstacle. I heard this poem read in a meditation class, early in my mindfulness journey, and it has always stayed with me.
Mindfulness is sometimes referred to as self – recollection. I offer a few simple examples of how this can work, and benefit you in profound ways.
- You are lost in thoughts (a form of virtual reality) and you realize that you are gone, and then direct attention to the feeling of body and breath, room and present moment reality. This is a basic self-regulation skill, it helps to keep the nervous system from unnecessary activation.
- You are talking about something and realize it may not be that appropriate or useful and come back to the point and the attempt to express yourself or dialogue with others. This is a basic relational skill, it helps us build respectful connection.
- You are doing something and notice that it may be a diversion and pause and consider, is this the best way to spend my time right now? This is mindful time management.
- You realize you are anxious or agitated by something or someone and you give yourself permission to acknowledge it, make space for it and make intentional choices regarding it. This is basic emotional intelligence, our emotions provide vital information.
- You realize that persistent memories come to mind and create emotional upset in your body and mind, you notice and breathe and honor what is arising naturally this is the skill of restoration, integrating the past into the present as it is tolerable.
The space of infinite awareness
See with clarity
Silver edged space
Vast open awareness
The rhythm of space
Burning up the seeds of fear
To be who you are now and now and now
That dissipates all raw emotions
And the space
That releases denial and coverup
And the space
That is awareness breath clarity
I was introduced to MBSR over 20 years ago by a colleague who had just completed his psychology doctoral dissertation on MBSR. I was already teaching yoga so I thought I knew what mindfulness was, but as I began to notice through my own practice, mindfulness was different. It was more bare bones, it helped me rest and it helped me see and be in a new and powerful way.
So I came to appreciate the practice of mindfulness itself, which MBSR fosters in a secular and universal way. And I was also deeply moved by how it was being taught in the MBSR curriculum. The way the teacher positioned themselves in the circle as a guide rather than an authority, the way participants were invited to speak about what was real for them and come to their own insights, the way the Eastern origins of the meditation practices became tools for looking deeply at our humanity.
Integrative Restoration or iRest is a newer mind/body method pioneered by Richard Miller, a clinical psychologist with a deep interest in Eastern meditation models. Like Jon Kabat-Zinn (MBSR’s pioneer) who blended his personal experience with Buddhism and Hatha Yoga with his scientific training to create a curriculum that met a powerful need in health care; Richard Miller has done the same. One notable difference that is that iRest’s foundation draws more from the Yoga paradigm than the Buddhist paradigm.
iRest’s origins are less academic and clinical, in that it is not embedded in a university medical center where its development was documented from the beginning. Yet, iRest has developed into a protocol that now qualifies as evidence based and is the subject of numerous studies for its treatment potential for trauma, pain, addiction relapse, compassion fatigue, insomnia, memory, and learning. There are currently over 30 iRest programs in VA’s and Military settings across the US.
For me personally, I find the 2 methods distinct yet entirely complimentary. For several years I have taught both MBSR and iRest, and have seen students benefit from the combination. If I were to sum it up I would say that MBSR is an amazing tool for grounding us, for helping us connect to the moment and learn from what is right here and now. We only have moments to live. iRest is deeply relaxing and expansive, it gives us tools to see our difficulties and distractions as pointers towards a deeper clarity and a healthy resolution.
We have two free Mindful Meditation practice offerings in December.
December 8th we will honor the mindfulness methods of Thich Nhat Hanh.
Present Moment, Wonderful Moment: Experiencing Mindfulness
December 15th a mindful practice related to the change of seasons.
The Fruitful Darkness: An Evening of Mindfulness Practice
All are invited to attend either or both classes:
No experience is necessary.
January 5th we will have the free Introduction session for the MBSR Program . If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness or registering for the Winter 2015 MBSR program please register and join us.
As a holiday treat for those that have been to our classroom in the Library of the Ada Peirce McCormick Building, we all know what a great influence Moses is on our mindfulness practice. For those that have not had the pleasure to meet him yet, he has a new video out.
Our message is first and foremost a nonverbal one; our message is our own action. –thich nhat hanh.
Thank you for your support.
A documentary film exploring the mind and bodies connection and its missing link in healthcare. With Andrew Weil, MD, Jon Kabat-Zinn …
Tucson premiere is Monday 29th September 2014 at 7:00pm at the Gallagher Theater, Student Union Memorial Center, U of A
There will be a panel discussion after the film with Dr. Esther Sternberg ( U of A Center for Integrative Medicine ) and director Shannon Harvey.
Shannon Harvey created the documentary after an autoimmune disease diagnosis and a worldwide search for the missing Mind Body link in Healthcare. In the search there are interviews with recognized leading researchers, scientists, physicians and of course the folks actually living with and recovering from severe pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis.
Featured in the film, are: Alice Domar, PhD; Andrew Weil, MD; Craig Hassed, MBBS, FRACGP; Damien Finniss MBBS, PhD, MSc Med, BPhty, BExSc; David Spiegel, MD; Dean Ornish, MD; Esther Sternberg, MD; Herbert Benson, MD; Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD; and Sara Lazar, PhD.
Free to attend with the code: MBSRTucson
or if you wish to make a small donation of $6 and simply pay as profits are being donated to
The July series of classes was a wonderful interlude for me personally this summer. They were designed to stand alone each week, so people could come even if vacationing some part of the month. And they were intended to both support alumni and welcome people exploring mindfulness anew. It was a different experience than the MBSR program which gradually unfolds over time; and each week’s subject could have been its own seminar, but we put our toes in some healing water nonetheless. Thank you to everyone that participated.
Here are a few gems from each class to contemplate for yourself:
Deep Listening: Listen with the intention to understand rather than help, fix, change, or even respond….
Mindful Speaking: When I’m quiet and solid as the ground, then I talk the low tones of thunder for everyone –Rumi
Group Dynamics: To understand true self- which knows who are in our in-wardness and whose we are in the larger world- we need both the intimacy that comes with solitude and the otherness that comes with community –Parker Palmer
Grief & Loss: Only other wounded people can understand what is needed, for the healing of suffering is compassion, not expertise –Rachel Naomi Remen