Saturday, March 7, 2015


Have you heard this phrase: "mindfulness"? It has become all the rage among health and wellness folks. The truth is that it is not a new idea; it was birthed in Hindu practices and introduced to America in the late 1970's. One of the "fathers of modern mindfulness" is Jon Kabbat-Zinn, and it is his works that have taught me about living "in the present moment with non-judgmental awareness." This book was recommended to me by a counselor who helped me during my first year of chronic severe pain. The title of the book is from the movie "Zorba, the Greek" who describes his life this way:
I'm a man, so I married. Wife, children, house, everything. The full catastrophe.
The full catastrophe indeed. Wonderful, stressful, time-consuming, energy draining, joyful, awful, everything that life is. How in the world are we supposed to cope with that? Dr. Kabat-Zinn explores that very issue. He founded the "Mindfulness-Based Stress Management Clinic" at Boston Mass Hospital, and this book is from his experiences helping people live with pain and chronic conditions in new and relaxing ways.
My copy of this book is dog-eared, tear-stained, and well-read. It took me an entire year to read it through the first time. Since then, it has been a "continual loop" in my reading. I can only manage a paragraph or two before I have to stop and think about what was written. These concepts (relaxation, being not doing, taking time for myself) were so foreign to me that it took a great deal of time for me to even consider their validity, and more time still to begin to incorporate them into my own life.

I highly recommend this book, even if it takes you a year to read. It is a wonderful new understanding of the power of relaxation. I also purchased the CD of Meditation for Pain Relief, and it has been incredibly helpful for dealing with pain and increased stress in my life.

Meditation is no longer for Yogis and Buddhists alone. It's benefits are for everyone, and spiritual belief is not required. It is not hindered (I'm a Christian, and I look carefully at meditation and other forms of self-talk to be certain that nothing conflicts with the teachings of scripture) nor is it promoted. For Dr. Kabat-Zinn, breathing is the important thing. Calming our minds (by focusing on the breath) and training our powers of attention will help to calm our bodies as well.

My own personal experience with this bears true. How about trying it for yourself?

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