Mindful Moments

Recently my wife Kay and I were planning the schedule for our Mindfulness Practice Groups’ Winter/Spring Series. I had been thinking for a few days about how I wanted the schedule to be and so my views were both clear to me and were firming up. As we moved into the conversation it became obvious that Kay and I had rather different points of view as to what the schedule should be.

Soon I felt my chest and shoulders tighten up and an inclination to directly rebut her suggestions. Instead - - my attention went to the tense spots in my body and rested there. Holding my attention there, without going into the story of how well thought out my position was or even the old story of ‘she never listens to me,’ I began to notice the tightness easing off and an overall relaxing in my body. I simply said, ‘can you tell me a bit more about your thinking behind your ideas?’ From there we progressed to a productive conversation that led to a schedule that each of us agreed was better than either of us had thought of originally.

If this same conversation had occurred in years past, I would have barely noticed the tightness in my chest and shoulders and would easily have gotten caught up in the stories about my preparation and her not listening. In all likelihood, I would have said some pretty negative things and the experience would have deteriorated from there.

What is different today is that I have actively practiced Mindfulness over the last six or seven years. Perhaps the most amazing learning has been about the power of awareness. Simply making the effort to be fully present in the moment offers perspective and understanding. When we become aware of what is happening right now without judgment, we see the reality of the moment. Being aware in this case means first recognizing explicitly the disagreement, then taking a moment to consider my response versus reacting out of instinct or habit. It is in that moment or space that we find the freedom to choose - - a freedom that can be totally within our control. So much of our lives is beyond our control. But not that moment of awareness and freedom. Cultivating this capacity for awareness is the essence of Mindfulness practice, whether in meditation or paying more attention during daily activities.

Once we learn to be aware of our proclivity for reacting, we can understand just how conditioned, both biologically and socially, those reactions are. Learning that powerful reactions are built in over long periods of time has given me that ability to allow and even accept reactivity with gentleness and kindness instead of resisting and wishing things were different. When we get caught in resistance and wishing, any effort to change our behavior is compromised through distraction or fantasy. The great gift of Mindfulness practice for me has been the gentleness, a big switch from harshness and toughness. When I am triggered and feel the tightness in my chest, simply taking my attention there and saying ‘it is OK, I can allow this’ with a kind attitude is a great physical and emotional relief.

Seven years after turning intentionally to Mindfulness practice I can look back and see how my thoughts, words and actions are much more likely to be characterized by kind and considered responses versus harsh reactions. There is an ease to my daily life experiences that was not there before. My heart feels more open and stronger. There has not been any particular event that has shifted my behavior. Rather it is the sustained intention to be more aware and to be kind that have enabled the changes.

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Mindfulness Practice Groups

Beginning Again in the Fall of 2017

Dates will be posted this summer

Chrysalis Gathering Space

3527 Ellwood Ave in Carytown

Richmond, VA 23221

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MONDAYS FROM 6:00P - 6:30P; Silent Meditation Practice led by variuous local experienced meditators; Chrysalis Gathering Space, 3527 Ellwood Ave in Carytown

 

MINDFUL MOMENTS

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