Recently, I came home to find my 23 year-old son sitting in our backyard with his eyes closed, legs crossed— meditating.
I laughed (to myself). This child has always marched to the beat of a different drummer.
His father is a high functioning busy-addict. (To learn more read: Are You Addicted to Being Busy?)
His father can’t sit still at all, and doesn’t like to be on his own.
“You can’t be in a room alone for two seconds,” one of my kids told him. “Alone with who?” he answered in all seriousness.
The contrast between my husband and my son is comical.
Over the years, I’ve learned to be alone, without becoming lonely.
But I still don’t meditate. The thought of sitting still for long periods of time, thinking— without judgment, and worse— without a pen, sounds like torture. Just thinking about meditating is enough to make me jittery. Isn’t that the exact opposite effect it’s supposed to have?
Mindfulness, on the other hand, is awareness. It’s being in the present moment.
That I can do!
What I didn’t know is that mindfulness is a form of meditating. It’s a simple meditation.
So, when I write, I’m practicing mindfulness. (See: Morning Pages, Julia Cameron.)
And when I cook, I’m practicing mindfulness. “If you’re stirring the pot, just stir the pot.” – Michael Pollan.
I just didn’t know I was being mindful.
I hadn’t labeled it.
Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness Stress Reduction Program at the University of Massachsetts Medical School. He studied how practicing mindfulness worked to better the condition of adults suffering from chronic pain.
He also did a study on people who felt high levels of stress. There was a control and a treatment group. The treatment group was taught mindfulness skills; and after three months, the group who practiced these calming strategies showed a significant decrease in stress.
The control group showed no change in regards to how they experienced stress.
Kabat-Zinn found that attention is a trainable skill. And depressive ruminations may be something our minds can be conditioned to control.
Mindfulness is a practice that asks us to pay attention to our hearts. This practice quiets our minds and calms our bodies.
Mindfulness is now being taught in schools. Research shows that children who are taught mindfulness techniques have less anxiety.
They are better able to focus. They are less aggressive, less oppositional, more attentive and better able to express positive emotions.
What results! Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
Now, if I could just get my husband to sit alone in the backyard…