For the past five weeks I have been attending a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class that is paid for by my employer and meets for two hours during business hours, which for this week is hour 23 of the 1 Day 1 World Project. It is based on a program developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (1981). The fact my employer sees that stress, both in the work and home environment, is a factor in the work-life balance is astounding.
Dr. Kabt-Zinn authored a book based on MBSR titled Full Catastrophe Living. Catastrophe in the title means “the poignant enormity of our life experiences. It includes crises and disaster but also all the life things that go wrong and that add up. The phrase reminds us that life is always in flux, that everything we think is permanent is actually only temporary and constantly changing. This includes our ideas, our opinions, our relationships, our jobs, our possessions, our creations, our bodies, everything. The full catastrophe lies within the complex web of their past and present experiences and relationships, their hopes and their fears, and their views of what is happening to them.”
Mindfulness is the disciplined practice of moment-to-moment awareness of each experience, good, bad, or ugly. It is just a way of paying attention to how you body and mind are reacting to the stress of life. The key to mindfulness is no farther than your own body and mind and your own breathing. A key component to MBSR is meditation. Several people have commented to me about meditation being a component of Eastern religions when I have discussed MBSR. Meditation itself is a misunderstood concept and when you boil it down, it is really about paying attention.
The mind and body are interconnected in ways that we cannot see. For example, when was the last time you thought about keeping your heart beating? Do you make yourself breath when you are asleep? Every wonder what your dreams were about? Everything that happens to us on a given day not only impacts our minds but also impacts our bodies. When the problems of life become to much for us to handle then stress settles in with a host of other problems both mental and physical. When one takes the time to be mindful of what is happening, then we are better able to handle the stress that life brings our way.
Be sure to take some time this weekend to be good to your mind and body.