Thirty-eight years ago the development of a program called MBSR, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, arrived on the medical scene primarily created to help folks facing stress, pain and chronic illness. Since that time, mindfulness has been researched and analyzed for its many gifts to our modern society including depression, addiction, weight loss and smoking cessation.
Mindfulness has always been rooted in the ethical scaffolding that lies at the very heart of the original teachings of the Buddha. The offering of MBSR has secularized it in an effort to reach all who can benefit.
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is deliberately paying full attention to what is happening around and within you, in your body, heart and mind. It is an attention that observes without judgment, or criticism. It is an awareness that holds a gentle curiosity toward any experience, pleasant or unpleasant.
We spend a good deal of time in our lives not being present for our life. Finding ourselves somewhere, wishing to be somewhere else. In conversation, but not really listening. Hurrying to get on to the next task. When we aren’t there for our lives, it may make us feel somewhat dissatisfied. This dissatisfaction is rampant in our culture today with distractions at every turn.
Today more than ever, mindfulness is needed in the work we do and the way we communicate, raise our families as well as when we make decisions that effect vulnerable members of our community and society. Mindfulness is both a practice and a way of being.
Practicing mindfulness can create an inner stillness that allows us to hear what cannot often be heard. One could say it is a form of prayer, where there is no petitioning, only listening. Mindfulness is a way of expressing our gratitude for the gift of life.
There are several ways to engage with practicing mindfulness within our community. Concord Hospital Center for Health Promotion will be offering a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction free orientation class Sept. 12 at 5:30 p.m. It’s a great time to explore if this form of mindfulness feels right for you.
Sageing and Aging, also at the Center for Health Promotion, runs Oct. 16, 23 and 30 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and will focus on staying engaged as we age and finding the true riches of wisdom.
For the more tech savvy folks, a highly recommended app is called Eat Right Now available for iPhone and Android. Although it focuses on food and our consumption of food, it uses mindfulness in a way that will help you understand and practice at the same time you’re losing weight. Craving to Quit (for iPhone and Android) is for those looking to quit smoking and for general meditation, consider MindKind app for iPhone.
Laverack was trained and certified as an Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teacher at the Center for Mindfulness, UMass Medical Center and has been teaching mindfulness since 2009. Laverack is a contributing member of the Capital Area Wellness Coalition (CAWC), which coordinates community resources and builds partnerships to create a culture of healthy living for everyone. The CAWC meets monthly on the second Wednesday at 8 a.m. at the Center for Health Promotion, 49 S. Main St. Visit capwellness.org to learn more