MBSR: Week 3

by mandy lipka

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it ’til your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to mail letters

and purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

it is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere like a shadow or a friend.

– Naomi Shibab Nye

By now, folks are starting to feel more as they develop their practice. The above quote is a nod to keep going. We may not like what we see, but to see it is the important part.

Week 3 begins with a guided meditation focusing on breathing then moving to body, from body to sound and back to breathing again. This week, we had a longer silent meditation and naturally, some folks found it a bit painful. Regardless, this is our tipping point– we’re all starting to realize the accessibility of mindfulness.

A reminds us that mindfulness is available any time for as much time– and that it is a perspective issue that we’re having. Many likely think we need to “slow down” to be mindful and that’s not necessarily true. Some folks mentioned they didn’t act mindfully at all, while others experienced Aha! moments with projects they were working on and couldn’t solve and some even forgot as they focused back on the meditation. Others felt it completely helped clear writer’s block by restarting their brain and allowing for a “clean piece of paper.”

It’s important to keep in mind now that when we allow ourselves to stop, things can bubble up. Many of us also have an idea of what mindfulness “is supposed to be” or life in general, and we layer our expectations. But when we stop and lay still, we experience a release. When we’re trying to plan it – we should keep in mind the when, where and how– if we’re hungry, tired or it’s early in the morning. This is where experimentation comes in and keeping a mindful space where we won’t interrupted.

After we paused for reflection and sharing our experience, we dove into yoga! First, we started with sitting poses and moved to some leg lifts, tasty spinal twists, bridges and some cat/cow. It was great and I was thrilled to see everyone try it. I’m most excited to see as the weeks progress, how meditation and mindfulness will inform my yoga practice and vice versa.

We moved from the light yoga practice into a walking meditation for the first time. This was fabulous. As we took time to move, step by step and breathing in between, I couldn’t believe how my attention increased. We circled around the room and then made our way into the hallway and around and back again. As I walked, I felt an overwhelming sense of calm and even had the opportunity to read a quote on a piece of artwork. It really makes you wonder about all of things you miss when you’re rushing from A to get to B. I encourage you to try it. It’s been incredibly helpful for me as I walk through city streets. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you notice!

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