Understanding Mindfulness

By Fred Krazeise

“Mindfulness” is the term that describes the notion of being conscious in the present moment, not allowing your mind to wander into the past or into the future. For many of my clients, it’s difficult for them to be completely present during their bodywork session with me. They may be thinking about the meeting they had earlier in the day, about the list of chores or errands they have to do on the weekend, about the fight they had with their spouse or partner the night before.

We are also conditioned in our society to always be on the go, to cram as much as possible, rushing here and there, trying to multi-task and get as many things done as possible. In fact, the stress that this brings to us is often worn like a badge of honor.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

All we really have is life in this moment, at this exact moment (as you read this!), and this is where our life actually takes place and where we experience life. The past is over — it is in, the past. No amount of regret or guilt can change what has already taken place. The future is just a moment in time when we will be in new “now.” Excessive worry about the future disrupts your ability to live in this moment, to enjoy life in the here and now.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founder and former Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is also the founder (1979) and former director of its renowned Stress Reduction Clinic and Professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He has written numerous books and has dedicated his life to bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. He writes about the seven pillars of mindfulness. And just like the Reiki principles I wrote about, you can empower yourself to make each moment in your life count by following these seven pillars.

Non-Judging – We need to take the position of an impartial witness to your own experience. We need to become aware of the stream of judging and reacting to inner and outer experiences and step back from it. Categorizing events into good and bad or positive and negative lock us into patterns of behavior that usually have no objective basis.

Here’s an exercise for you. Over a 10-minute period of time, observe how much you are preoccupied with liking and disliking what you are experiencing.

Patience – Patience is a form of wisdom and shows our understanding that life has a tendency to unfold in the way that it was meant to. Despite our desires, sometimes we just can’t will things to happen. Being patient means being confident that you are on the right path, and that life will take you to the right place.

A Beginners Mind – This is a mind-set that is open to new possibilities. When you adopt a beginners mind, you can look at each event in your life with the wonder and amazement of a child experiencing life for the first time. I am amazed at how my dogs are able to extract the joy of each moment, whether it is chasing a ball, going for a walk, or chasing birds or squirrels in the back yard. Each moment for them is new. When we adopt this position we say to ourselves, “I don’t know everything in life, and I am open to what life as to teach me.”

Trust – This is a hard one! Trust is about having faith in yourself, trusting your intuition, and the inner voice which guides you in making decisions in your life. You guide your own way and you have to believe in yourself. It is impossible to become like somebody else. Your only hope is to become more fully yourself.

Non-Striving – We are goal driven, and this attitude has led to advances in science, medicine, technology. But there is a price that we pay for striving too much. We become future-oriented and we focus on the act of “getting somewhere” instead of accepting who we are in the here and now.

Acceptance – This is one of the most important pillars. It means that you accept yourself now, in this moment, no matter what is going on in your life. This gives you the freedom to focus your energy on your healing instead of clouding your mind with judgment and fear.

Letting Go – Letting go of feelings, thoughts and situations — both good and bad — is extremely liberating. When we let go, we free ourselves from the chains of our human suffering and unleash ourselves into the beauty and peacefulness of each life-giving moment.

This is a lot to think about. I know. It also requires work and reconditioning ourselves from patterns of behavior that are common and accepted in our society. But if you try to follow these principles, you will take a step forward to make each moment in your life count. In future posts, I will be writing more about what I think is the most important principle of mindfulness — mindful breathing.

Fred Krazeise is a nationally certified massage therapist and Intrinsic Coach focusing on women’s wellness. He is a graduate of the AKS School of Massage in Herndon, Virginia. Fred received his coaching certification in Intrinsic Coaching through Totally Coached, Inc. He has studied advanced body work and has completed additional training in Thai Yoga Massage, Lomi Lomi, Tui-Na, Tibetan Massage, Qi-Gong, and lymphatic drainage massage. Fred is a Reiki Master and a Reiki Master Teacher. Additionally, he’s received a Master’s degree in Education from Chapman University and a BA from University of Maryland. Fred is an active member of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).

Article published with permission of the author.

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