Sunday, December 11, 2011

Altered Muse: Silence really is golden

This is a blog post from a new acquaintance, Celina, the author of a wonderful blog, Altered Muse, who just discovered what meditation really is. She participated in a rapidly growing form of psychological therapy, MBSR, where Mindfulness is used to treat various forms of stress-related problems including those experienced by the returning combat veterans with PTSD. The brilliant Ph.D from MIT and founder of MBSR, Jon Cabat-Zinn, is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. 

I hope you enjoy this post and take some time to visit Celina's blog and personal website. Be well!


Yesterday I spent the majority of my day not speaking. No it wasn't a silent treatment directed at my husband, but a series of exercises in pure blissful stillness. I am rounding out my 8th and final week of a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class based on John Cabit Zinn's curriculum and approach to meditation. The class has been an eye opening experience on how many of us (myself very much included) get skillfully good at going through our days on auto-pilot. Everything from the way we eat to the way we drive can become incredibly zoned out. The exercises I participated in yesterday were something I did not ever envision myself sitting through so peacefully. Which led me to the realization that I am behind in checking off one item on my life list: Learn the Art of Meditation.

Here is what I now know to be true about meditation:

You don't "learn" to meditate. Meditation is not a destination. It is a practice. It is not a skill, it just is what it is.

Meditation is about being gentle with yourself and what you can do in this moment. There are no "shoulds."

Taking a walk through the woods listening to the sound of the wind in the trees and noticing the color of the grass is a meditation.

Sitting quietly in your car focusing on one breath, then another.....and then another before stepping out into your busy day is a meditation. 

Placing your attention on your toes and breathing with that tiny part of your body is a meditation. 

Eating your food one slow bite at a time, tasting, feeling, smelling and seeing is a meditation.

Meditation is not about thinking about absolutely nothing, but instead an opportunity to compassionately reel yourself back in as your mind slips away.

You see, what I've learned over this past year is that I do in fact already have everything inside of me I need to know to practice meditation. Every day life is a meditation if you allow it to be. If you practice noticing, sensing, feeling then you are practicing a form of meditation. Something I was not aware of when I was plunking down wishes on my life list. I realize now it isn't a skill that can be learned but an artful practice that occurs moment to moment to moment every day of our lives. 


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