Formal meditation can be intimidating. If you are a Type-A personality and discouraged that you are yet to sit like Buddha with enlightenment at the end of the tunnel, continue to trust your capability. Begin with mindfulness first, it's a little easier. And maybe try a course too.
Meditation and mindfulness practices are powerful tools you can use to help you fully experience yourself as the one-of-a-kind person that you are. Many of us have a lot of untapped potential. Taking a leap to live more fully in our potential can be done through the following:
Reducing Stress Through Mindfulness
Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction (MBSR) is an 8-week intensive course to use cognitive and behavioral therapy to manage stress. It was originally used in hospitals by doctors who prescribed it as a stress management tool for patients coping with issues such as heart disease or anger issues. MBSR was developed by John Kabat-Zinn, a biomedical scientist. He blended Western science with yoga and Buddhism, which revealed how effective mindfulness meditation was in relieving chronic medical conditions.
As meditation and Buddhist teachings have become more widespread in the US, so have MBSR courses. And as San Francisco never seems to break character. My MBSR course was in an art gallery in the Mission with workers from Google and Genentech.
A Deeper Practice
The powerful feature of taking a MBSR course is that you are actively engaged in mindfulness and meditation for 8 weeks. You commit to attending for two months, which helps develop a strong personal practice.
You learn how to eat mindfully, walk mindfully, practice self-care mindfully, silently meditate for prolonged periods of time, and do body scans. There is also a full-day silent retreat.
I did a 45-minute body scan everyday for the first week of the course. During a body scan, my mind would suddenly recall a memory or start planning the next day. Those are moments in the past or future, not this present moment. So I would jump back into the body scan recording. I kept getting bored with focusing on my breath, forearm or heel. Daydreaming was so tempting. But I had to truly experience this to justify whether it works for me, so I kept going. And eventually, the 45-minutes seemed to fly by, and I started to look forward to visiting this magical world of “present moment” I had been downplaying.
And then after a week, things started to seem different. These fertile moments of being completely present would randomly pop up, and I was suddenly able to see how colossal and minuscule the environment could be. Everyday senses started to feel brand new and interesting. Patience became less of a challenge. My heart seemed to have more space to spread out and be heard. I felt more connected to myself and the big bright colorful world.
My Mind Wasn’t in the Past or Future
It seems so simple. But a lot of life feels like a music video with fast-paced agendas and constant multi-tasking, which eventually feels normal. Reflecting back, I realize that this sterilized a lot of my creativity and clouded me. And as hard as it may be, I work to release my inner-tortoise to focus on breath and presence. Which has allowed me to feel the opportunity and gift of a simple moment.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction courses are offered all over the world and online.. If you are interested, try one out!