the main reasons we use intensive training in mindfulness
meditation at our clinic is that most of the time, most
people are unaware they are not in this moment--and
that learning, growth, healing, and the shaping of new
directions always come out of this moment.
Nor are they aware that they are thinking constantly and
that our behavior is virtually dictated by our reactions
to our own thought content--which we misperceive as being
true. We believe our thoughts unquestioningly and
react to them emotionally, although they are mostly
take a thought that's not necessarily a fact, like the
thought, "I'm over the hill; it's all downhill from
here." Many people believe this when they reach
a certain point in their lives. They feel they
didn't get where they were "supposed" to
get. They look in the mirror and realize, "My
God, I'm not going to achieve those things."
And then the thought comes up, "It's all over for
me," or "I've wasted my life." In
such moments, you might not realize that that's just a
thought. You instinctively believe it. That
collapse can spiral you into depression, overwhelming you
with feelings of hopelessness or helplessness.
thoughts are forming maybe a thousand times a second, so
they have a very powerful way of coloring our lives--our
views, our relationships, the feelings we experience, the
things we take on or don't take on, the choices we make,
and everything else. Usually we have no idea this is
being driven by inaccurate, reactive thinking.
here we are, missing the fullness of the present moment,
which is where the soul resides. It's not like you
have to go someplace else to get it.
challenge here is, Can we live this moment fully?
When you ask a group of people to spend five minutes
watching their own breaths moving in and out of their
bodies, just as an experiment, with people who have never
meditated before (you don't even have to call it
meditation), they discover, often with great surprise,
that their minds are like bubbling vats, and it's not so
easy to stay on the breath. The mind has a life of
its own. It carries you away. Over a lifetime,
you may wind up in the situation where you are never
actually where you find yourself. You're always
someplace else, lost, in your head, and therefore in a
kind of dysfunctional or nonoptimal state. Why
dysfunctional? Because the only time you ever have
in which to learn anything or see anything or feel
anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to
an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this
is the only moment any of us ever gets. You're only
here now; you're only alive in this moment.
people make this discovery, it is an experience of waking
up to a realization, a reality, they did not know
before: most of the time, we're operating in an
automatic-pilot mode that is more asleep than awake.
When you have that realization, you begin to see
differently and then act differently.
is gone, and I don't know what's coming in the
future. It's obvious that if I want my life to be
whole, to resonate with feeling and integrity and value
and health, there's only one way I can influence the
future: by owning the present. If I can relate
to this moment with integrity, and then this
moment with integrity, and then this moment
with integrity, wakefully, then the sum of that is going
to be very different over time, over mind moments that
stretch out into what we call a life, than a life that is
lived mostly on automatic pilot, where we are reacting and
being mechanical and are therefore somewhat numb.
autopilot mode switches on in virtually every domain in
life. It happens at work, it happens at home, it
happens in the family, it happens in the car, it happens
when you're alone. Most of the time, if you're not
really paying attention, you're someplace else. . . .
important to practice mindfulness, because most of the
time we are practicing the opposite. Every time we
act with frustration, sadness, or anger and we don't hold
that reaction in our awareness, it takes on a life of its
own--it "does us" instead of us doing it,
whatever it is. . . . Over time what you're doing
is practicing mindlessness. By not being
fully awake in each moment, you are getting better and
better at reacting, or going numb. As you get older,
a lifetime of not paying attention and not nourishing what
is deepest and most important has profound
consequences. The details and excitement of youth,
work, ego gratification, the pursuit of name and fame, all
fall away. What you're left with is the fundamentals
you have been practicing. If you've been practicing
resentment for fifty years, if you've been practicing not
being sensitive to other people's feelings, if you've been
practicing being on some colossal ego trip, it doesn't
just stay the same--that would be bad enough. It
builds. It ends up imprisoning you. You get
more and more locked into that behavior.
if you're practicing mindfulness, it doesn't matter if you
get angry or depressed or irritated or contracted.
The eddy or whirlpool in the mind or heart becomes the
object of your attention because it's as worthy of
attention as anything else. You're not editing your
life; you're not saying, "This is good and this
is bad, this is soulful, this is spiritual,
I want this, I don't want that." You're saying,
"The whole of it is my life as long as I'm willing to
hold it in awareness."
such as Lynn Andrews,
Wayne Dyer, Robert Fulghum,
Bernie Siegel, Marianne
Williamson, and Ram Dass
offer suggestions and
observations about nourishing
the soul through meditation,
prayer, and the contemplation
of nature. Many writers offer
glimpses into their own daily
routines and explain, briefly,
how they manage to maintain
an enthusiasm for life and a vital
sense of that mysterious,
timeless part of ourselves
that we call the soul.