When I was brainstorming names of this blog a lot of names came up and Kirsten and I had a lot of back and forth, each coming up with new ideas and connections. As I look back on it, at the time I was just coming into myself. My actual self; not the concept of me, not my name or identity, not how others want me to be, but in tune with divine consciousness, with source. I now have a mindfulness practice. I feel mindful boost is a great reminder to be present in each moment and integrate equanimity into my life. [That link is my favorite definition of the word, which you can use the almost prefix equal to help you understand too.]
So here I am, about a year and 4 months later and I realize the serendipity of where we landed for my blog. I have traveled a curious and wondrous road recently and I am much the better for it. I moved to the Santa Cruz area to teach preschool with my mom. I traveled to India for a 21 day meditation and yoga retreat. I went back to teaching at a high school where I have began use meditation in my curriculum as a way to center and calm my students after lunch. I moved into a cute little downtown Capitola apartment where I could walk or ride my bike to school. I am finishing up a mindfulness fundamentals course with mindfulschools.org and getting ready to start the mindful educator essentials on a partial scholarship! I found a new job where I will be teaching science to 4th and 5th graders at an elementary school. I will see each student starting with my first class of 4th graders for two years and I will have an impact on each person at that school, as a teacher to the students and a resource to the staff. I wrote in my letter of introduction about mindfulness and was asked about it at the interview for the job I accepted. And I recently moved into an actual cabin in the woods of Corralitos. I remember when we first moved to the area nearly two years ago, we drove out to Corralitos looking for rent signs and wanting to live there and here we are indeed! I feel blessed and poised to share my true self with everyone I encounter.
So what is mindfulness anyways?
I like to think about it like this, am I being mindful, or mindless? If I am being mindless then I am letting my conditioning be the driving force in my life, I am taking a backseat and may or may not be enjoying the ride. If I am practicing mindfulness then I realize that I cannot be part of society without being conditioned and institutionalized in some way(s). If I am practicing, I am bringing awareness to the present moment, I am minding the gap- between breaths, between sentences, between thoughts, between when someone else speaks and when you respond… all of the gaps become moments of clarity and silence. Silence, which is the only language to speak and know the truth of who and what I are.
I have been doing a lot of reading on the subject and have enjoyed the author Jon Kabat-Zinn, especially his book Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness, that I got from the library! One of the quotes I wrote down from this book, was how they describe the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Clinic that was started at the U Mass Medical School in 1979, is this
“Meditation is not for the faint-hearted nor for those who routinely avoid the whispered longings of their own hearts.”
Before I was born, this program was connecting medicine to mindfulness, realizing that you have to be participatory in your own healing, that in no where else besides you is the cure. Symptoms can be treated with medicine, but healing comes from the integration of all the systems, from the inside out. It is now over 35 years later and this is still a long way from how mainstream medicine is practiced. I mean have you accidentally watched some commercials recently? Every other one is about some new pill you can pop to solve your problems. Simply treating the symptoms, the vary clues from our bodies telling us that something is not right. But do we listen, are we encouraged to, do we even know how?
Ours lives seem to be measured in how much we do, what we create, accomplish, leave behind. When you realize that there is nothing to leave behind, that we are all just here having a human experience together, that we are not separate at all. Then there is no need to judge or compare, no reason for it at all. In fact, we can get a sense of this only when we stop doing things, when we inhabit the present moment for what it is. It is the past and the future, the only manifestation that either ever have, right now. The present moment. Is there ever any other moment?
The human experience is intense. Jon Kabat-Zinn calls it the “full catastrophe” in another book. Mindfulness can help us feel that our experiences are shared with those of others. That other is not even a real classification. It can increase the loving kindness we feel towards ourselves and vastly improve how we interact. Mindfulness can help us gain self-awareness, regulate our emotions and maintain attention. All of this by taking the time to sit and just be. Being. How many of us know people who can benefit from this, or will admit that we could as well? What is it like to just be? To be present here and now. To accept and not resist.
Our thoughts are not us.
We think our minds are us, our friends- but this is an illusion. Full of ego and separation. We must overcome our thought patterns and realize that our mind is a tool, to be used when needed and then put down. We must choose to bear witness to moments of silence, not just when something horrific happens, but to prevent such things from happening. To be able to extend these moments and feel our interconnectedness. We need to be grounded, to be discerning and use our senses to awaken to the full spectrum of our human experience.
As the Buddha said,
“Nothing is to be clung to as I, me or mine.”
We are all one. A spark of the same divine consciousness. As perfect as a flower that opens to the suns rays and closes to hug itself under the moonlight.
Paraphrasing Kabat-Zinn, awareness is our teacher, the lesson and the student. It can put us into orthogonal space that expands our ability to see and feel beyond the two dimensional reality of dis-ease, opinions, thought streams, symptoms, into the cubic space outside that encompasses all living sentience. This volume of space is infinite and so are we. Our access point is us and our relationship with ourselves, it is becoming part of the collective evolution. It is being as the flower, the rock or a wave.
Another favorite for JKZ
“As long as you are breathing there is more right with you than wrong with you, no matter what is ‘wrong’ with you.”
The inmates above have tapped into the orthogonal spaces that allows them to transcend their confined reality and be part of the expression of natural harmony. How many of us life and life more confined them them?
So how do we get there?
The answer is we have already arrived. We just need to adjust our focus to see it.
Stay tuned for more on this. And in the mean time the next time someone asks you want you have been up to, confidently look them in the eye, pause, and then say “Nothing.”
For now, I will leave you with resources to check out for meditations.
Free downloads– check out the bells only at the bottom. Fragrant Heart– heart centered meditation. UCLA mindfulness meditations. If you can stream check out anything by Jon Kabat-Zinn on youtube too. Tara Brach has a lot of guided meditations too. I have been specifically looking for audio files as they flow easily without wifi.
Please feel free to leave your favorites below as well.