NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE

The Mindful Place

July 22, 2009

 

Being mindful is walking out the door with my keys, wallet, glasses, and other necessities needed for the journey into the day. In meditative practice it’s the bridge that leads from being tense and unsettled, to being serene and centered. Mindfulness is assessing the moment, using common sense, intelligence, intuition, and creativity during times of stress and change. It’s knowing when to stop being so serious, and do something that makes me laugh. Being mindful is having an awareness of the long view while being focused on the moment.

 

Mindfulness contains a paradox — it’s a dynamic and calm state of being. The human brain automatically and indiscriminately produces thousands of thoughts on a daily basis. Being mindful is the act of paying attention to thoughts that are empowering, necessary and creative, and allowing the rest to float through your conscious mind while not focusing on them, like so much dandelion fluff drifting through the air.

 

Buddha said that although the seeds of wisdom can be initially sown by others—a teacher, a sacred text, or some other outside source — ultimately it comes from a deep integration grounded in one’s own experience. It is through such experiences that I’ve found how truly connected my thoughts are to my body, and how the power to change detrimental thoughts and behaviors is in my hands. I can regulate my well-being by taking myself to a restful state — physically, mentally and emotionally—more than I ever thought possible, creating a susceptibility to health, instead of stress and illness.

 

Long walks and exercise, daily meditation, slowly waking up to the amazing variety of birdsong outside my window, and the creative act of writing are important pieces of my breath-filled mindfulness practice. What are yours? What practice is already in your life that allows you to slow down a bit and breathe, to feel more restful? What takes you to the mindful place?

 

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