Have you ever had the experience of driving somewhere and at your destination you honestly cannot remember the trip? (I mean, who was driving the car ?) Or maybe you left your desk for an errand and found yourself on a detour. Here is my favourite: coming to the end of the meal and not remembering my deliciously prepared meal apart from the first and last bites. In our minds, we may call this justified multi-tasking but let’s be honest, a large part of this particular form of disconnect is a growing inattention to being in our actual experience.
How we spend our moments is of course, how we spend our lives. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. – Annie Dillard
Imagine yourself years from now, older and looking back at the movie of your long life. How many moments were spent in front of a screen or lost in self-recrimination. And how much time was spent looking in the face of a friend, a child, a flower, a stranger. What do you want to look back on?
Underneath this capacity to “zone out” might a growing sense of loneliness, isolation and fear.. We start feeling less like a human and more like an operating system .This is stressful. Stress switches on the threat avoidance system. Avoidance is like running away, running away is what you to do escape a threat. This makes sense if there is a real predator as there were for eons of history. These days our essential and sensitive survival response was not designed to switch on repeated for non-survival threats like traffic, insecurity, unwanted emotions, imagined threat, smartphone pings, facebook status. My body might be here on a park bench with lunch, but am I here ?
“ I have experienced terrible things, and some of them actually happened”.
– Mark Twain
The opposite of “zoning out” is tuning -in. Over the course of the eight weeks we discover simple ways to drop back into this moment, how to tune in. We learn how tuning in relates to working with both what is easeful and what is difficult. We see the larger view of our predicament.
Given that we all have inherited- these jumpy nervous systems – mindfulness meditation training is a wonderful antidote to and this is why it has taken hold so effectively.
There is a great technology that humans possess and that is the one of our minds and hearts capacity to direct our attention . The founder of MBSR Jon Kabat Zinn, defines mindfulness as the awareness that comes from paying attention, on purpose in the present moment- non judgmentally . This moment now is the only one we have in which to act and live and love according to our personal values. It is worth learning how to inhabit it!
With gentle practice and guidance it is possible and natural for the body -mind to come home to itself. I am continually delighted to see how people in MBSR class befriend the different parts of themselves and they learn to be-with rather than conquer. Life feels workable. Brain change dictates that thanks to neuroplasticity, change is not only possible, the brain and nervous system exist for change, for adaption and growth.
“…Nature has endowed the human brain with a malleability and flexibility that lets it adapt to the demands of the world it finds itself in. The brain is neither immutable nor static but continuously remodeled by the lives we lead.”
– Richard Davidson, PhD Neuroscience researcher and meditation proponent, founder of the Center For Healthy Minds
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction training will offer your nervous system a chance to remember how to stop (naturally), how to learn to tune in and then make choices in how you respond in a situation – rather than react impulsively on auto-pilot. It has been called has been called the most popular mindfulness meditation course on the planet.
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