How Mindfulness practices help us manage the stress of change and change the way we respond to stress:
The divisiveness of political and economic unrest in our nation, the uncertainty manifested by social, political, military and economic conflicts around the world, and the inner struggles we face in seeking to determine our role in and responses to these circumstances can leave us feeling powerless, sad, frustrated and angry.
We experience these rapid changes and strong emotions closer to home and in our work places. We hear about them from parents and teachers dealing with recent documented spike of fear and anxiety among school children, and they seem to be the constant tone presented by our 24 hour news cycle.
But is this all totally bad news?
Remember, we can’t change what we do not see and so, although changes can result in stress, the awareness of the stress can also result in healthy changes.
In classrooms across the country, programs like the one in the Baltimore schools https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/06/baltimore-school-students-meditation-patterson-high are offering new options to kids to better manage their emotions. Law enforcement officers like the ones in Wisconsin are teaming up with mindfulness teachers to address trauma. https://centerhealthyminds.org/news/uw-madison-teams-up-with-madison-police-department-to-foster-officer-well-being
Even in our contentious Congress, Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio is leading a regular MBSR group http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/16/tim-ryan-meditation_n_1429854.html for staffers and elected officials.
Our strong inclination is to quickly slip into dualistic thinking, labeling everything with superlatives such as “fantastic” or “disgusting”, “always” or “never”. Dualism will surely drown us in the river of judgment. Without awareness and before we know what is happening, we will find ourselves mindlessly projecting onto others the very dis-eased emotions we find so uncomfortable within ourselves. Is it possible that these times of great change, increased fear and anxiety could serve as opportunities for increased healing and growth?
For the past 15 years, we here at the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Clinic in Austin, have been teaching and supporting individuals in the development of mindfulness practices according to the model set out by Jon Kabat-Zinn in his classic book, Full Catastrophe Living, and through the curriculum and research of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Regularly practicing mindfulness (paying attention moment by moment, non-judgmentally to thoughts, sensations, emotions and actions, while making intentional choices) clearly can bring healing change.
Engaging in these simple practices, on the cushion and in the wider world will produce positive shifts our lives, improve our health and strengthen our relationships. It’s even possible that through regular practice we can become an agent of the “good news” in the midst of all this “bad news”!
- What would it be like if you were able to reframe the stressful circumstances you face as the very purpose for which you have been called and prepared?
- What would it be like if we could welcome the skills and exercises learned in the MBSR Clinic as specific tools available to shape us into agents of hope and healthy change in our homes, our work-places, our political system and even in the world?
- You could spend an hour surfing the web for apps, podcasts, articles and webinars about mindfulness and you will find plenty of news about it’s growing healing presence in our culture. That could be a good thing to do?
Still, another option might be to find a quiet place…in your parked car, in your office, on your bed or in the shower…and simply settle down and be still, taking a mindful breath and then another. Give yourself permission to re-engage with your own being and your own body and slow down so you can intentionally notice what is going on in there. From that more centered place, you will surely see other options and responses and be able to make choices for health, wellbeing and positive action.
A commitment to resting more regularly in your “observer” mind, so you can constructively engage with conflict rather than being drawn into it, captured by it or driven into hiding from it, will surely result in less reactivity to both inner and outer experience.
- Maybe you have “fallen off the wagon” of your regular practice and your choice will be to “begin again”.
- Maybe you are practicing regularly but it’s time to be more mindful about intentionally expanding the formal practice into the rest of your ordinary day.
- Maybe you want to consider joining with others to receive some additional support and accountability from a teacher and/or a group.
You can reach us here by calling 512-695-3387 or sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
Maybe there is someone you know who could benefit from our 8 week MBSR training, which begins on June 5th and the Summer Silent day will be July 25th, for these events go to the events page on our website
Mamata Misra will be leading the Mindful Mondays
Every 2nd Monday of the month
from February to July, 2017
at Sol Healing & Wellness Center,
13805 Ann Place, Austin 78728
Geeta Cowlagi will be offering Mindful Mondays
Every 4th Monday of the month
To register for either of these group events go to http://www.joyfulliving.us