“There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
In last week’s post, “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: Week One,” we explored how the evidence-based treatment of MBSR is effective in making significant changes for the better in people’s lives. Mindfulness is a practice that can be utilized to transform people’s lives from feeling disconnected from self and other to one that is grounded in the present moment with full awareness.
Many of us have spent the better part of our lives living on “automatic pilot,” moving from one task to the next without feeling a real sense of connection and purpose. Mindfulness is effective in bringing awareness to the present moment, noticing all aspects of reality, and becoming more accepting and tolerant of discomfort.
During your practice of MBSR in week one, you gained a clearer understanding of what it means to live on automatic pilot. During this first week you also practiced specific mindfulness exercises designed to cultivate your mindful awareness of your presence in everyday activities. This first week also introduced you to the body scan meditation practice, which is infused throughout the MBSR program as an exercise to increase and deepen your awareness of your experience in the moment.
MBSR Week Two: Dealing with Barriers
It is natural for your mindfulness practice to feel challenging at times. When you experience expected obstacles to mindfulness, the important thing is to notice what is happening and to choose to be kind and gentle toward yourself. We all have a tendency to judge people, experiences, thoughts, and emotions as “good” or “bad.” This is a natural human tendency that can be quite useful in life, although this judgment easily interferes with pure mindfulness and harmonious relationships.
Even if you find yourself engaging in the judgment that your mindfulness practice “isn’t working” or that you “aren’t doing it right,” make the commitment to yourself to persevere in your practice. Mindfulness is considered a practice for a very obvious reason! When you make the commitment to begin to build a fully aware, conscious, and accepting stance toward your life, you are simultaneously committing to practice the new skills involved in learning to be fully present to your life.
MBSR Week Two: Practices
- Continue to practice the body scan meditation as outlined in MBSR – Week One.
- Choose another daily routine/task to practice with mindfulness, in addition to the one you chose for week one.
- Practice being mindful of your breath for 10 minutes a day through sitting in a comfortable position and noticing your breath enter and leave your lungs. If your mind wanders, notice this, and gently return your focus to your breath. If criticism, boredom, or frustration arises in your awareness, observe this thought for what it is (simply a thought) and defuse from it.
- Complete a pleasant events diary in your MBSR journal. Use this diary entry to record thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations that arise when you experience something pleasant. Incorporate as much detail of your experience as possible.
During week two of your personal MBSR program, choose to be just as committed to your mindfulness practice as you would to an important business meeting or a doctor’s appointment. This is about improving your life and moving towards being more fully present and connected to your experience. Is that not far more important than showing up for a doctor’s appointment? Take your life seriously and choose to make real changes through waking up to the constantly unfolding moment of “now.”
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Next week, I will explore the practices involved with Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction: Week Three – “Being Mindful in Movement.”
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: Enlightenment by h.koppdelaney / CC BY-ND 2.0