“When we have our body and mind in order, everything else will exist in the right place, in the right way. But usually, without being aware of it, we try to change something other than ourselves, we try to order things outside us. But it is impossible to organize things if you yourself are not in order.” – Shunryu Suzuki
In last week’s post, “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: Week Two,” we identified common barriers that arise during the practice of mindfulness. Experiencing obstacles during the experience of practicing mindfulness does not mean that you are “doing it wrong.” In fact, these obstacles and frustrations are wonderful learning experiences if you choose to take the lessons embedded within the struggles.
If you found yourself feeling significantly bored, frustrated, or uncomfortable during your own mindfulness practice, notice how you chose to respond to your experience of discomfort. Mindfulness allows you an opportunity to notice your typical patterns and tendencies in new ways. Once you become more aware of how you typically respond to discomfort or frustration, you can gradually begin the process of changing your response. This takes practice.
At this point in your personal journey with exploring Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), you have learned about the benefits of being more present to your life and how you tend to respond when natural obstacles and frustrations arise. During week three of your MBSR program, you will begin to experience what it is like to become mindful in movement.
MBSR Week Three: Being Mindful in Movement
One of the amazing things about practicing mindfulness is that you do not need to sit still in a formal meditation posture to reap the benefits of your practice. In fact, experiencing mindful awareness through movement and bodily awareness allows you to reconnect to the present moment in a whole new way.
Being mindful and tuned in to your breath serves as an excellent “anchor” to keep your focus centered in the present moment. The beauty of focusing on the breath is that it is always present and available, no matter what situation you may be in. In fact, during times of intense stress or when feeling “disconnected” from the present moment, focusing your attention on the breath allows you to ground yourself more fully in the here-and-now.
MBSR Week Three: Practices
- Days 1, 3, and 5 – Practice 30 minutes of mindful walking or stretching. Yoga and tai chi are excellent ways to practice this form of “mindfulness in motion.”
- Days 2, 4, and 6 – Engage in the body scan meditation practice that you learned in MBSR: Week One.
- Begin to practice a mini-meditation exercise called the “3 Minute Breathing Space” three times a day. Choose the optimal times for you to engage in this practice in advance. Commit to this goal through scheduling your mindfulness practice.
- Complete an “unpleasant events diary” in your MBSR journal each day. This involves writing down one thing each day that you found unpleasant/uncomfortable. Note the sensations in your body during these experiences, the thoughts that went through your mind, and how you felt emotionally.
As you continue in your personal MBSR program, treat yourself kindly and be patient if you experience frequent obstacles to mindfulness. Take joy and delight in the journey towards become more awakened and mindful, rather than solely focusing on the goal or outcome. This means fully noticing and accepting all aspects of your experience all the way to your goals… being present to your life in this very moment. Notice how you feel during this third week of your MBSR experience. Maintain the commitment to yourself to continue along in your mindfulness journey, firm in the knowledge that your health and improvement are worth your efforts.
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Next week, I will explore the practices involved with Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction: Week Four – “Staying Present.”
This article is not intended to be a substitute for therapy or MBSR as developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn. This article is intended to introduce you to the basic concepts of MBSR that you can practice in your daily life. If you are interested in exploring MBSR in greater depth, you can explore an online course or a directory of MBSR classes worldwide.
Alidina, S. (2011). Mindfulness for dummies. West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Featured image: Mantra by j / f / photos / CC BY-ND 2.0