Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Many Roads to Mindfulness

Options for accessing mindfulness are as many and varied as are the individuals who seek to open up to such growth-enhancing experiences.  A general grouping of such practices might fall under the following headings.  

·     Meditation:  Practiced since ancient times, attention to one’s experience of internally directed consciousness has long been considered a primary path to enlightenment.  Whether sound driven (chanting, listening to chimes), or silent contemplation; emptying the mind or filling it with a single-minded focus, or; non-attached awareness of moment to moment experiencing; meditative practices continue be a cornerstone of many spiritual traditions. 

·         Yoga & Body Therapies:  Since body and mind are one interconnected entity, any process that allows for non-judgmental awareness of one’s internal and external state is by definition a mindful state.  With such attention almost any focused activity, be it sensory (listening to birdsong or music, studying a flower’s petals, savoring a favorite food, healing massage), or movement (dance, tai-chi) based can result in a sense of present moment calm.

           Artistic Expression:  Symbols speak volumes.  The old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true, not only for representative artworks, but, perhaps even more so, for the abstract and personal expression of inner conflicts and celebrations of self.  Even practical arts like weaving and textiles work can offer solace in their very rhythm and FLOW, at a level of unconscious expression, opening one to creativity and meaning.

·         Self-Leadership:  Internal Family Systems Theory (i) offers an open-ended structure for accessing internal guidance, and for encountering and negotiating with protective parts (even those which may have been mistaken for negative influences).  This example of internal and external compassion offers a methodology for advancing self-awareness and self-leadership based upon internally held knowledge and experience.  How much more wise and safe an option is this than an externally introduced overlay of someone else’s “truth?”

These are but a few of the many choices available for the free expression of internal conflicts and transformation of meaning.  Alone or in combination, such practices will enhance your recovery process in ways unique to your own journey and unfolding.

[i] Schwartz, R., (1995)

Friday, January 4, 2013

The New Year Reboot

My blogging has lagged over the Holiday season.  Instead my time went to cleaning house, preparing menus and meals, and making or buying gift items for my loved ones.  I would venture a guess that you, too, reader, have been doing much the same sorts of activities.  These December rituals have come to define what we love, and sometimes dread about the season.  Yes, it is distracting, and often exhausting, but there is a purpose to these predictable disruptions at the end of each year.  They shape our lives with time to pause and express our appreciation of otherwise routine activities, and offer a reminder to reach out to others in our appreciation of them.

Ritual is a way to make the everyday sacred.  In the hectic day-to-day of life, it becomes essential to slow things down and engage with our environment.  Taking time to note beauty in surprising places creates opportunity to ground oneself, not only in the external factors but in the felt relationship with those surroundings. 

By engaging "ordinary miracles" within each day, we attain connection to the energetic qualities available in that moment.  Remember to note opportunities in your day for such potential connection: the sound of a warming teakettle; the crunch of frosted earth underfoot as you walk through the world with a loved one; watching children at play; each in its own way a sacred event.  When the positive energies in such moments are embodied, they result in calm, healing moments in our lives.  Indeed, such times are likely to attract further positives to their practice and presence providing us with further opportunity to engage the world as a pathway to a life of Healing FLOW.

Now that the decorations have been boxed up for next year, and the leftovers have been consumed, make a choice to celebrate each new day with the enthusiasm and appreciation of our annual efforts.  An attitude of curiosity and positive expectations can open up avenues to fulfillment.  So Happy New Day, everyone!