Adversity or Opportunity…You Decide.

I have started a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course this week and it has been life-changing.  The idea of mindfulness is to pay attention in a particular way.  MBSR was created by Jon Kabat-Zinn out of the University of Massachusetts to help medical patients deal with chronic pain, illness, depression and anxiety.  Our homework this week was to meditate for 45 minutes a day.  I have had consistent mediation practices in the past but none that recently.  When I did meditate, it was usually for 10-15 minutes at the most.  45 minutes is a long time.  What happens in that 45 minutes can be quite crazy. This week (Week 1) our meditation is the Body Scan.  As you go through body awareness meditations, your mind wanders off to all sorts of places.  In the past when I have meditated, the minute I realized I was thinking I made myself go back to the breath.  (The breath can be an anchor in meditations.)  It was almost in a punishing, fix-it kind of way.  This mindfulness practice was different.  Every time you notice that you are not paying attention to the point of focus and your mind has wandered, it is seen as an opportunity to practice mindfulness.  So instead of seeing myself as a bad meditator, now when I am thinking, I realize how this is an awesome opportunity to practice mindfulness.

What has been really cool is that it has already had an immediate impact my life.  I have been dealing with a great deal of anxiety this week.  Due to my mindfulness practices, I have been able to notice my body sensations and also see them as opportunities to practice mindfulness.  Instead of giving meaning and interpretations to the feelings, I pay attention to them.  I have had a few challenging situations come up this week and one was with my husband.  Instead of emotionally reacting or getting into a story, I was able to observe my body sensations, thoughts, and feelings without giving them any meaning.  What seemed like adversity was an opportunity for growth.  Instead of reacting, I choose to be mindful and from that there has been amazing opportunity for growth and connection.

Week One of MBSR has shown me that what may appear as an adversity is actually another opportunity to practice mindfulness.  It is amazing when you approach life this way.  Although I am fully aware of my feelings and thoughts, I am able to witness them and allow them to be just as they are.  #witnesseverything #nostruggle