Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mindfulness: Experience the Experience

Listening to Dr. Ronald Siegel in a Mindfulness webinar, I was struck by his observation that the common factor underlying all psychological disorders is "experiential avoidance."

Notice how you typically handle painful experiences. Do you tell yourself "I can't stand it" or "If I let myself go there I'll never be happy again"? When we retreat from life this way we deny our own healing resources. When we're mindful we allow ourselves to be present to experience.

Mindfulness is not limited to meditating on a prayer cushion for 20 minutes morning and night. "Many of us are so busy," Dr. Siegel writes, "that the thought of adding one more thing--no matter how potentially beneficial--is just too much. The good news is that mindfulness practice can be taken up in different ways to suit different lifestyles."
Here's an excerpt from "Nature Meditation" in his book, The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems:
Turn your attention fully to the world around you. If you can get to a window or go outside, use the natural world as a focus. If you need to stay in a room and can't go to the window, you can do the same thing with the walls, floor, and objects in the room. The idea is to systematically look at everything in your visual field and describe it. If your mind wanders to thoughts or body sensations, just gently bring it back to the outside world. As with walking meditation, this can be used as a formal meditation practice, replacing breath meditation during particularly anxious times, or as an informal practice as you go about your day.