Mindfulness week 8
The rest of your life!
As Eleanor Roosevelt writes in You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys For a More Fulfilling Life, “There is no experience from which you can’t learn something. When you stop learning you stop living in any vital and meaningful sense. And the purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. . . . The experience can have meaning only if you understand it. You can understand it only if you have arrived at some knowledge of yourself, a knowledge based on a deliberately and usually painfully acquired self-discipline, which teaches you to cast out fear and frees you for the fullest experience of the adventure of life.”
We constantly weave false dreams for ourselves, but what we really need to weave is a parachute to use when life starts to become difficult or begins to fall apart. Mindfulness has been compared to weaving such a parachute. But there is no point in doing this when we’re falling headlong toward destruction. We have to weave our parachute every day, so that it’s always there to hold us in an emergency. The first 7 weeks of the Mindfulness programme helped us begin to taste this process, but week 8 is as important as them all because Week 8 is the rest of your life!
Here are some tips:
- Start the day with mindfulness – take a few breaths to ground yourself in the present moment awareness instead of starting off your day on autopilot.
- Use the Breathing Space throughout the day, especially when things became hectic, it will help to re-establish your focus in the here and now, so that you can respond with wisdom and compassion to thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations as you move through the day.
- Befriend your feelings. Whatever you feel, as best you can, see if you can bring an open and kind-hearted awareness to all of your feelings. Remember to roll out the welcome mat to even your most painful thoughts, such as fatigue, fear, frustration, loss, guilt and sadness. This will diffuse your automatic reactions and transform a cascade of reactions into a series of choices.
- Mindful activities. Whatever you do, see if you can remain mindful throughout as much of the day as possible. (Washing dishes, brushing teeth, walking, cooking, shaving etc)
- Increase your level of exercise. Walking, cycling, gardening, jogging – anything physical can be used to help weave your parachute. See if you can bring a mindful and curios attitude to your body as you exercise. Notice the thoughts and the feelings as they arise.
- Remember the breath. The breath is always there for you. It anchors you in the present. It is like a good friend. It reminds you that you are OK just as you are.
- Reminders. Put up some sticky dots on places you see frequently to remind you to check in with yourself. Use “mindfulness bells” (hearing a phone, a sirene, bells, supermarket till) or a certain color to bring you back to the moment. If you spend your day at the computer, have a reminder popping up on the screen to take a few mindful breaths.
More meditations by Jon Kabat-Zinn
All books by Jon Kabat-Zinn
"10% Happier" by Dan Harris (he also has an app by the same name)
"The organised mind" by Daniel Levitin (recommended by a course participant)
"Resilient" by Rick Hanson (sign up for his weekly email)