Because modern life has become so fast paced, our minds tend to race though our present experience only taking in a small portion of that experience and we rush on to the next moment. Most of the time, our attention is focused on the future or remembering the past. Not only are we missing much of what our outer life experience has to offer but we are failing to recognize and process our own inner emotions, thoughts, and sensations. And for this unconsciousness, we pay a big price! The result is the repression and numbing of our inner experience, which results in a host of mental and physical disorders, including, anxiety, depression, addiction, and physical stress-related problems.
Many of us have allowed this fast-paced technological action-oriented culture to distance ourselves from our own self, from each other, and from nature. The resulting mental and physical disorders have driven us toward doctors and medications, looking, again, for some quick, easy solution. And, yet, many have found that these solutions have only complicated, exacerbated, and compounded their symptoms or created new ones. Modern man has refused to recognize the often superior power of nature to heal and balance the mind and body but many are now turning to ancient time-tested wisdom for relief. And they are finding the mental, physical, and sometimes spiritual healing within a deep inner resource: present moment awareness.
What is Mindfulness?
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally.” JON KABAT-ZINN
Daniel Seigel MD tells us, “The way we pay attention in the present moment can directly improve the function of body and brain, subjective mental life with its feelings and thoughts, and interpersonal relationships.”
The key to being mindful is acceptance: Cultivating the ability to allow whatever is arising to be “just as it is” in the current moment. Mindful practice applies to both our inner experience (feelings, thoughts, and sensations) to our experience in our everyday life. Living and responding to life from a place of acceptance is a challenging task for most humans but becomes easier as one witnesses and experiences the positive outcomes that living mindfully can bring.
MIndfulness is like water that takes the path of least resistance but is, at the same time, a powerful force for change. Perhaps that is because, when something is accepted and experienced as it is, it is free to morph and change. For many, how and why mindfulness works is still in the realm of speculation. However, after nearly 40 years of scientific research on mindfulness and mindfulness meditation, the effectiveness of this practice is undeniable.
Thoughts, emotions, and sensations rise in our bodies like waves to be met, experienced, and released. When we were very young, however, we did not have the capacity to tolerate strong inner experience and learned to distract or numb ourselves. This was very understandable as we were just children but we have carried these repressive habits into adulthood with the resulting bundle of unmet inner experiences which tend to become more intense over time. Repressed uncomfortable emotions and problematic beliefs create havoc in our lives and in our personalities as they push for the natural recognition that is required before they can dissipate or change form.
There appears to be a natural inner intelligence that moves us toward healing, wholeness, and growth. More often, it is not a “doing” that heals but a “getting out of the way” by learning to “be” and allow. Perhaps it is time to bring the missing piece of our deeper conscious awareness into our modern technological life. Can we really have the best of both worlds? Of course we can!