Over the next eight weeks, we will be developing a strong foundation of mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “the awareness that unfolds as we pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment.” It’s cliché to say it, but the past is gone, and the future has not yet arrived. From that point of view, the present moment is the only time any of us has for perceiving, learning, growing, and healing. It is from the awareness born noticing what’s happening right now, that we have the chance to recognize and respond more proactively and effectively to the challenges and demands of everyday life. What we are learning and you will experience for yourself, is that when we are fully aware of the present, we’re better equipped to take control of our lives. We are relearning to focus on one thing at a time to harness that power.
From the beginning, we will focus ways of integrating mindfulness into your life through formal and informal mindfulness practice. “Formal” practice is the time during the day that we set aside to meditate—by practicing a sitting meditation, for example.
“Informal” practice is all the other moments of our day during which we can intentionally focus our attention on the details of our lives—when taking a shower, preparing a meal, speaking with our children and partners, participating in a business meeting, or driving the car are all occasions for being awake and aware. For example staying in the car—body and mind—while driving, rather than having your bodies in the car and your mind in the office rehearsing what we’re going to say in a meeting. During this topic, you will learn to practice the Awareness of the Breath Meditation as a means of becoming familiar with and cultivating awareness (or mindfulness) of the body and using your breath as an anchor to the present.
From this point of view, no matter what challenges you are facing or physical conditions you may be experiencing, “there is more right with you than wrong with you,” as Jon Kabat-Zinn says. Likewise, experience shows that the challenges and difficulties you are facing are workable. This has nothing to do with liking these situations or “reframing” them in some fake or insincere way. Rather, it is a perspective that reflects your natural ability to solve problems creatively. This often sleeping genius lives within each of us and can be woken up through the practice of mindfulness.
Questions for Reflection and Journaling
Take a moment to reflect on the following journaling prompts. When ready, turn to your preferred journaling method—whether that is pen and paper, a word doc, or an online tool—to record your responses to the upcoming questions.
- What is your intention for this course?
- What drew you to this program?