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)

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