101 Ways to Wellness
FOUR- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
Greetings from your SYNCWELLNESS Coach! I hope everyone has enjoyed the beautiful spring week, but more importantly, I hope you have been mindful enough to notice the amazing things going on as the world is blossoming around you.
I am currently enrolled in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction training through Duke Integrative Medicine, and feel like I finally “get” mindfulness at a whole new level. It is not a space of bliss, or peace (or even one that is necessarily enjoyable some of the time), but it is a practice of “paying attention on purpose” to what is right here and right now in your life.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (or MBSR) was put into practice over thirty years ago and shared with the world through a book called Full Catastrophe Living by John Kabat-Zinn (best-selling author of Wherever you Go, There you Are). It has since been taught to tens of thousands of people all across the world, and research has shown it to be effective in lessening anxiety, depression, anger, and worry as well has having a therapeutic effect on medical conditions such as low-back pain, type 2 diabetes, and sleep disturbances.
So, what exactly is MBSR you ask? It is essentially cultivating various practices of mindfulness centered in meditation. These practices include meditations on Awareness of Breathing, Body Scans, Choiceless Awareness, and Loving-Kindness, along with Mindful Yoga and Mindfulness of Sensory Experience.
While there is much to be learned about each of these (and SYNCWELLNESS Coaches would be happy to teach you more), Kabat-Zinn provides us with seven essential attitudes in which we must ground our practice, which I believe can serve us all well in our daily lives. They are:
1) Non-judging: Start to become aware of how you react to and judge all the inner and outer experiences of your life. Try to shift from judging to simply being a compassionate observer. And when the judging creeps in – don’t judge the judging!
2) Patience: Practicing patience allows you to truly be present in the moment. When we are rushing to get to the next place, experience, or even emotion, we miss what is happening along the way – our lives.
3) Beginner’s Mind: Be in a space of “not- knowing”- how often do we think we know someone’s story (or even our own) so well that we anticipate the reactions and outcomes of so much of life? Be like a child – curious, joyful, and eager to learn about each experience as it unfolds.
4) Trust: While trusting others is wonderful, this is really about trusting yourself. Trust your own emotions, and trust the wonder of being your own unique person to allow yourself to truly just be (rather than try or do or think) as often as possible.
5) Non-Striving: Our teacher says this: “the best way to achieve your goals about meditation is (i.e. stress reduction, spiritual growth, personal development) is to stop striving for any of these results, and instead focus on seeing and accepting things as they are, moment-to-moment.” Meditation is non-doing, and non-striving.
6) Acceptance: Acceptance means seeing things as they are, rather than how you think they should be. This does not necessarily mean you need like your reality or that you cannot take action to change it. If change can only occur in the present moment, the first step to that change is being able to clearly see that reality.
7) Letting Go: This is also called “non-attachment” and can be cultivated by paying attention to what you are clinging to, what you resist letting go, and then practicing just releasing it. Just let it all be.
Take some time this week to practice these attitudes, and if you feel ready to begin or deepen your own mindfulness practice you can start with Kabat-Zinn’s books or stop in to SYNCSTUDIO for a free first session with a Wellness Coach. Sign Up Now by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 919- 572- 7962
Next week we will explore a transformative book by the former FDA Commissioner David Kessler titled The End of Overeating: Taking control of the insatiable American appetite. Kessler takes a fascinating look at everything from our neurobiology to the collusion of the food industry to explain why our nation keeps getting bigger and unhealthier despite all of public health’s efforts to the contrary. Until next time, be present, and be well!
From wellness coach Julie Marks, Phd.