Jon Kabat-Zinn, in 1979, started to invite chronically ill patients into his office at the University of Massachusetts. He was aware that there were many people that were ill with seemingly incurable conditions. Maybe it was pain, maybe it was immobility issues due to accidents, or maybe it was depression and anxiety; regardless of the manifestation of the illness, he believed there was a mind/body connection to the serious disorders. Visit here for an image of what happens to the body while in a constant state of fight, flight, or freeze.
Kabat-Zinn wanted to be able to study the effects of Mindfulness on these patients with apparently hopeless cases. He believed they could benefit from a systematic approach to Mindfulness and therefore created a scientific methodology from the sacred Buddhist practices. That was 40 years ago and now we can find the use of his Mindful Based Stress Reduction or just the practice of Mindfulness in corporations, detention centers and in schools around the western world. These practices are being introduced because of the results that have been found in adults for developing greater self-awareness, and managing difficult emotions. Maybe it will even lead to a cultural shift.
What you can do right now
Mindfulness is simple but not always easy, however, you don’t need anything but yourself to practice.
- Simply allow yourself a few moments to try it. (I say this because it is very easy to promise yourself that you will try it sometime in the future. Try it now!)
- I encourage you to find a comfortable place to sit, however, if the right moment happens to be when you are standing (say waiting in line for something), that is okay! Just allow yourself some comfortable physical stillness.
- I personally like closing my eyes to reduce visual stimulation from my immediate environment, however, if that is not comfortable then gently gaze down at the floor in front of you.
- Now just breathe. In . . ., Out . . ., In . . ., Out . . ., and continue for at least 10 breath cycles.
- Allow yourself to just notice how that feel to step out for a moment.
- Celebrate! You have allowed yourself a break for a moment!
- Challenge yourself to do it at least once a day. Your nervous system just got an opportunity to relax, you just built a bit of resiliency within and with continued practice, you will start to notice changes!!
You too deserve a moment of such authentic contentment!