This is our first post in several months – we consciously decided to let the blog go for a bit while we focused our energies into the weekly sangha, our private practices, and unexpected family obligations. Accepting our limits has been an important part of self-care, and we hope you all have been doing the same!
Now that we’re back at it, we’re looking forward to sharing research with you, discussing all the incredible benefits and applications of mindful awareness, and informing you of upcoming offerings. With all that’s happened (and is happening) in this unprecedented year, it’s tough to know where to begin. So to keep things simple, we’ll start where we are – in the midst of change and uncertainty. Of course, as human beings, our preference is always stability and predictability. Yet, here we are.
For many, these are stressful times. And the pending holiday season, while holding the possibility for celebration and gratitude, brings the potential for more stress – particularly in a year when certain traditions and gatherings might not be possible. As the stress mounts, we invite you to keep it simple, and return to the basics.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the MBSR program, defines mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.” Diana Winston of UCLA offers “mindful awareness is paying attention to present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is”. The Greater Good Science Center states “mindfulness means maintaining a moment-to-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” All of these definitions point us towards the same path: awareness and acceptance of the present moment. The present moment includes what is happening around us, as well as what is occurring internally (emotions, sensations, and thoughts). When the present moment is pleasant, safe, and hopeful – mindful awareness might arise naturally without much effort. But when the present moment is unpleasant or painful, the human reflex is to avoid. Unfortunately, this avoidance reflex – especially in times of stress – has the potential to turn a painful situation into a chronic stressor. When we bring mindful awareness to stressful situations, we are present with the situation without making it worse for ourselves.
When times are hard, we might be vulnerable to dropping our practice – exactly when we need it most. As a support, we offer you a short practice. Remember, 3-minutes of practice is three minutes of practice. It counts! It helps! Three minutes might be all it takes to break automatic pilot and reconnect with the present. We hope you find this short practice to be a support during a challenging time.