This week in the Yoga Beginnings class here at The Sacred Space (Tuesdays 6:30 – 7:30 pm), I’ll be introducing the concepts of mindfulness. One of the best definitions of mindfulness I’ve found is from Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat-Zinn is the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society. Kabat-Zinn’s definition is as follows: “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”
My intention for the Yoga Beginnings class and anyone who reads the blog is to present suggestions for how all of us can incorporate conscious awareness into our everyday lives in ways that are comfortable and natural. Yoga Teacher and Life Coach Karson McGinley suggests we listen - really listen - to the sounds around us and consider them mindfulness tools. Just as in yoga, your mindfulness practice won’t be the same as mine, but we can all benefit. This Tuesday’s class (September 5) will begin with the experience of deep listening. Most adults are familiar with the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is one of the five senses; it means our ears are doing their job and that we are aware of sounds around us. However, listening means we interpret what we hear. The French verb for “to listen” (entendre) expands the definition to mean we hear, we understand, and we are in agreement with another person. Instead of tuning out the sounds of everyday life, we can choose to approach them differently, making them the object of our attention. Opportunities to be in the here and now and actively listen are all around us. The late poet Mark Strand reminded us, “Each moment is a place you’ve never been.” Why waste precious time ruminating over to-do lists and projects when we can seize everyday opportunities as they unfold and truly experience the present moment? Even time spent listening to the noises of a busy office without judgment may give our brains the refreshing break they crave. Paying complete attention to the splash of water as we wash vegetables for a salad can become a moment of relaxation. The more aware we become of the reverberations of life around us, the closer we are to being mindful of the fullness of our lives. Like yoga poses, mindfulness can be adjusted to be what each person needs. It is a natural state of simply being alone and open to the many ways it can be experienced. Fortunately, there is no perfect mindfulness practice; there is only the style and time that works for each person. All any of us has to do is pay attention to the events happening around us and focus on what they tell us. Has anyone ever told you to listen to your heart? Each member of the Yoga Beginnings class will be encouraged to begin the journey into mindfulness by listening to mind, body, spirit, and emotions. As the late Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “A great hallmark of mental wellness is the ability to be in the present moment fully and with no thought of being elsewhere.” Join us!