When I walked into my Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class for the first time, I discovered an oasis of calm, healing, and fun. Two years have passed since I took MBSR and along my journey I've learned a way of being fully in my life, recognizing the richness and possibility within daily routines, times of difficulty and pain, and times of joy and ease.
This first became evident one day while I was in the basement mindfully folding laundry. Ordinarily a chore that I dread to the extreme, I've purchased new clothes so as to avoid laundering those in my hamper. Yes, it's that bad. But this time was different. I felt at peace as I mindfully folded clothes, and in that moment I knew everything was as it should be. My mind was at ease and that usually chatty committee in my head was silent. I was in a place where I was beyond thoughts - where I could hear each breath and feel each heartbeat; and where I became present to the awareness that someone was watching me.
As I turned and looked over my shoulder, I saw my three beloved dogs from outside the window, their eyes intently and quizzically fixed upon me. The expressions on their adorable faces were priceless and immediately filled me with joy, so that I began to laugh out loud. This precious moment would have been missed had I not been present to it. Right then and there I had an introspective insight into life: What is my life but a series of moments, strung together between birth and death? With this awareness my whole world changed. Now that I have found it, I carry this same joy and ease within me wherever I go.
I applied my newly acquired skill of being mindfully aware to manage a situation that in the past would have created significant distress. It was a snowy night and my husband and I had retired to bed. We lay there discussing the events of the day, when suddenly we heard a collision outside. We rose to the window to see that a van had crashed into my husband's parked car. As I rushed to the front door my mind filled with a flurry of thoughts and the prattle of conversation began: "Should I scream and curse this person out?" He damaged my property. "Should I be reasonable?" The roads are slippery.
I felt the tension building. And when I got to the front door, I realized the man in the van had fled the scene -- a hit and run. In that moment I was furious. "How dare he? How dare he!"
In the next moments, I was able to catch myself in the midst of a crescendoing conniption fit and shift my thoughts to the present. The awareness came over me that there was no point in exploding as it would not resolve the situation and only make matters worse. Even more important was that by quieting my mind, I was able to gain perspective on the importance of the event. "We were not hurt. We have insurance," I realized.
How it works
Mindfulness provides us with a powerful ally to learn to observe our thoughts and our bodies. We can tune into ourselves and our own inner wisdom by becoming more in touch with ourselves and what is going on around us.
Stress and anxiety, fear and depression, are caused by wanting things to be other than they are. Anxiety and fear lead to over-thinking, brooding, living "in our head." We start living in the future with "what if" statements filling our head and so we start missing our lives. MBSR teaches us that this moment we are living in is the only moment we have.
With mindfulness, we can come back to the present where we have a chance to respond in a skillful manner by being with "what is." We gain more options to respond rather than reacting on automatic pilot, caught in habits and emotions, and carried away by worries about a future that we don't have a clue about. We can trust ourselves rather than hope for the future. It is empowering when we realize we can trust ourselves rather than think the future is going to make a change.
We have to stop the screaming of the mind so we can listen to our inner wisdom. Mindfulness shifts our mental gears into a non-judgmental mode of being rather than doing or thinking. It allows us to identify when negative thoughts and emotions carry us away and take immediate action to reconnect with life.
Mindfulness brings us back to the present, where our situation is more manageable, and teaches us to approach life with acceptance and openness, so that we can trust in our strengths. It is more than a relaxation technique; it brings about a lot of empowerment, self nurturance, and leads people in a better direction to taking care of their health.
As for me, I've lost a lot of weight since taking the MBSR course. The weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders.
Please give me a heart if you like this article and support weight-loss surgery topics on HealthCentral. Thank you!
You can read about other tools I use, such as the Pouch Rules for Dummies and Overeaters Anonymous and FitDay.com, so as to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management following my weight-loss surgery in 2003. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.
Published On: September 20, 2011