Being with what is. Seems simple enough and should be relatively easy. Then you try it by practicing formal or informal mindfulness meditation and discover the mind’s tendency to want to hold onto the good experiences and push away the negative ones. That was part of what Ron Siegel, Psy.D. and psychology professor, presented at his “The Power of Mindfulness” workshop Feb 3rd and 4th for mental health professionals. He gave examples from his practice and then gave the audience a brief taste of using his technique. They practiced periods of mindfulness to see what would come up as they focused on their breath, a loving kindness meditation, and an eating mediation. He also presented scientific studies showing the positive benefits of integrating mindfulness therapy into psychotherapy sessions.
So many of us rush through the minutes and hours of our days without being present. An informal, or more formal practice of deliberately taking time out of your day to be present with thoughts, feelings and sensations can bring a chance to return to what is best about ourselves. An informal practice can be as simple as focusing on washing the dishes while doing so. Another might be focusing on the moment when taking a shower, doing housework, or while stopped at a stop light. All these times usually escape our notice and become routine, but try next time to pay attention instead and live in that moment, appreciating each nuance. Jon Kabat-Zinn, director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School elaborates here.
In his book Being Peace, Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, described mindfulness the following way: “From time to time, to remind ourselves to relax, to be peaceful, we may wish to set aside some time. . . . when we walk slowly, smile, drink tea with a friend, enjoy being together as if we are the happiest people on Earth. This is not a retreat. It is a treat.”
You deserve this “treat” of coming back to yourself. Try it and see. When stopped in traffic, or waiting on line at the grocery store, see what happens when you take a breath and come into the present moment. Notice what happens when you pay attention. And then, enjoy this moment, this gift.