Reflections of Being in The Moment
One day last week while I was walking along the beach of Lake Ontario. I found a spot to stand along the water’s edge. As I became still and closed my eyes, I could feel the firm ground under my feet and the wind caress my cheeks. There were the various sounds of different birds close by, and in the background of everything, the moving water over the shore pebbles: the rolling-in of the waves, and the rolling-out of the waves over and over again.
As I opened my eyes and looked around, still feeling into my body from the inside to out, I now included the sight and felt awareness of the Earth below me, and the sky above, the interesting colour of the day, the abundance of clouds, the sun trying to peek through here and there and again, coinciding with the repeating water crashing against the shore and pulling out. The water was also playfully trying to reach my boots until it couldn’t, unable to resist the power of the calling back of the Lake from whence they came.
The softly disappearing edge of foam of the surf just ahead of my feet is noticed. How like Nature we are. Things always arriving and passing. Such as remembrance of the forever receiving and releasing of my breath very much in sync with the ebb and flow of the waves on the shore. The breath never forgetting me until it does.
The feeling of belonging to something bigger becomes apparent standing there, the Earth and the whole natural process of life. Humbled. It was a moment of deep tenderness with observance of this connection to everything around me - through the wind, the water, and the birds. The recognition of it living in my cells, not separate. Touched and dwelling in my heart. Being still and breathing. Letting life unfold as it is. Unfolding compassionately to what is. And simply being. Nothing more than standing here. Breathing. Experiencing the aliveness around me with a lightness. A gentleness. And awe.
How astounding it all is.: this gift to be part of this intelligent earth breathing earth. Breathing in and breathing out connecting me to the inner life and to the outer life around me. Reminding me of something wondrous and simple at the same time. Oh, the mystery and beauty of it all!
Try this for yourself someday. Stop for 5 – 10 minutes somewhere and an exercise. Be with life as it is. As it is happening. Breathing.
The Japanese naturist and poet Hokusai says,
It matters that you care
It matters that you feel. It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.
Look. Feel. Let life take you
by the hand and let life
live through you
When we meet life with our whole body we are awakened. We behold the changing stream of sensations and feelings and thoughts. Everything is alive, the whole world lives inside us. As we let life live through us, we experience the boundless openness of our true nature. Our true self: one with nature - not disconnected or separate.
ANTI-ANXIETY and 8 WEEK MBSR PROGRAMS
NOVEMBER 23, 2022
A new study on anxiety released last week in JAMA Psychiatry shows an 8 week mindfulness program works as well as the popular anti-anxiety medication Lexapro. Those who have taught MBSR over the years have come to expect these outcomes, but all the same, it's good the see science continuing to confirm with one peer reviewed paper after the next.
I just wrapped-up another successful eight weeks last week of gentle mindfulness excavation into what matters most in our life and in our hearts. Shifts of perspective were practiced and a better understanding how to better navigate challenging moments: breaking out of the prison of our limited selves. Over the course of 8 weeks we came to know we are capable of so much more than we ‘think.’ We often get caught in a limited understanding of what is possible at any given moment.This course will offer you skills and more space to be with everything in a kind and caring way if that has been lost on you.
I have taught so many programs now I can hardly count, but its always something to witness - how everyone falls so naturally over time into understanding what self-care is truly about - There is such power and transcendence when we surrender and allow it. It's a kind of falling back into your true self. A remembrance of sorts as one student discovered in this last course…
"I wanted to thank you for the great effort ... I have to say I felt a new sense of self care/love. I have always found it important to care for oneself and I would do that in the form of working out, eating health, being outside, sleeping, etc... This was a whole new experience for me and one that felt incredible...just hanging out with myself in silence getting to know my mind, body and heart. I work as a teacher and we talk about self care and mindfulness with our students but I never truly understood what it all meant. I thought I was caring for myself. The retreat was an eye opener and I have realized that I have a new self care/ self love opportunity in my life and I look forward to continuing this exploration and experience." ~ B.E.
I hope you too will consider giving yourself a priceless gift to yourself by entering my classroom to take care of the one person that matters before all others: the one with your name that you could offer the highest duty of care. The highly standardized evidenced-based 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course has to be experienced.This course is for those new to meditation and mindfulness and also for those who simply want to renew and refresh their practice. We can always begin again if you have lost your way. The beauty of this work cultivating mindfulness is that continues for a life time. Know I do this work too. If there was something more powerful I would be doing that! What is a better reward than being able to feel yourself again?
Perhaps your Doctor has suggested you look into Mindfulness to take better care of your health*, or you might have come across a popular meditation APP but are having difficulty sticking with the program on your own? You wouldn’t be the first to be unsure how best to use it to its best advantage, or you may be failing to feel any benefit at all despite valiant efforts? This is where a certified teacher and guide can help. I am here to support and guide you in your journey towards feeling better.
In Heart, <3
OCTOBER 4th, 2020
At the end of the last class of the eight week course, I usually go around the circle and I ask for one word or two that encapsulates how everyone is personally feeling. Often, words like calm, grateful, happy, coming home, connected, balanced will be lovelingly shared; all so valid. On this particular last session though, one usually quiet gentleman in the class blurted out something I hadn’t heard before in the sharing. “Born again!”, he declared. It caught me by surprise somewhat because perhaps the MBSR course may be spiritual in nature with some soul searching asked in the 8 week curriculum, but MBSR is not designed as a religious course. The more I thought about it after the class, his spontaneous heartfelt declaration made absolute sense to describe the transformation this remarkable program can blossom.
Like so many others who have taken the class before him, including myself, this revelation perfectly illustrates the renewed feeling of joy, peace and confidence to break free of being so stuck in life. It offers the ability to move forward with practical skills and tools so we can be in wise relationship to whatever life has to offer. I t offers a fresh approach live. A new beginning like being born again.
And to be clear, this kind of transformation is not something you can actually ‘will’ to happen, but rather it has to be practiced, like you would build a muscle in a gym, or training for a new sport until you know intuitively just what to do; without needing to think about it any more. Mindfulness meditation is not what you ‘think’. It’s a skilful way of being with everything: the good and the bad. Of course, there needs some time for all the ‘doings’ of your day, but the mind and body also need time to refresh and settle into a little bit of ‘being’ for rest and recalibrating. In MBSR we also explore simply being with whatever is here as it is happening without opinions about it. This is the training or practice we are cultivating.
And when I speak of a skillful way of being, I mean ultimately causing no harm to yourself or others. This is the compassionate wing of mindfulness: sometimes called heart-fulness. When these two, the recognition of mindfulness coupled with kindness are perfectly balanced in synchronicity there is the remarkable possibility for growth, healing and transformation.
I believe that is what this participant in the class had woken up to that last class when he declared “Born again!” - as all the participants reported in some form or another. The felt sense at the end of the course touches on how MBSR cultivates both awareness and compassion to develop the wisdom that ultimately softens, or releases a good degree of our internal suffering to move forward with much more ease in life. That is the power of mindfulness.