I am excited to be in my second week of an 8-week Mindfulness Class and I am looking forward to enhancing my meditation practice I’ve been cultivating for the past three years. I am ready to take it to a new level, whatever that might mean.
Hospice of the Valley (HOV) in Phoenix, Arizona, offers this class to volunteers and the public regularly. The HOV site says, “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) training has been studied scientifically and found to improve physical symptoms (such as chronic pain, high blood pressure, shortness of breath and insomnia) and to decrease emotional and psychological distress (such as anxiety and depression). Brain MRIs before and after an eight-week course show growth of temporal lobe areas (memory, emotional stability) and shrinkage of the amygdala (anxiety, anger, fear).”
Twenty-five of us, men and women of ages ranging from 25-88, have agreed to attend twenty-three hours of class time and meditate for at least thirty minutes a day. For the past two weeks we have been using a body scan meditation recorded by our teacher Dr. Gill Hamilton. I’ve chosen to do these meditations first thing in the morning lying down on my yoga mat covered in a blanket and eye pillow. I listen to Dr. Gill guide us from our left toes to the lower leg to the knee to the upper leg, well, you get the picture. What you may not get is what happens when you actually try to be aware of each of these body parts, and the tendons and muscles that connect them and the skin that surrounds them and the air on your skin. It’s hard to think of your daily chores or what you’ll make for dinner if you are truly being aware of your body and each toe, foot, leg, arm, finger, hand and neck. For ½ hour I melt into myself. I float away to a safe space. Maybe I float back out occasionally, and when I do, I gently escort my thoughts back, but when I’m in this state of complete awareness or truly being present, time stands still and all pain, worry, and conflict melts away.
A past participant quoted on the HOV site said, “This class has helped me to be more present in the moment and enjoy life. I do not dwell on the stressors of work until the moment I have to, as a result, I enjoy my job again. Overall, I feel less stressed and anxious. Mindful meditation will be part of my life, for the rest of my life.”
Another past participant had this to say about the class: “I suffer from anxiety and found this class to be life-changing in such positive ways. I find myself much more able to flow through my days with significantly less stress and much more awareness of my body and my mind, thus diminishing my stress in a way I did not think possible. Thank you so much for offering this amazing opportunity to me. I am forever changed.”
I’ve already known how my meditation practice has enriched my life making me less reactive/dramatic and more mindfully responsive to everyday stressors. I am looking forward to learning even more about “flowing through my days with significantly less stress.”
I am looking forward to melting into mindfulness.
Find out more about Jon Kabat Zinn’s Mindfulness Course from 60 Minutes Overtime with Anderson Cooper at Anderson Cooper on Mindfulness
Find various recorded meditations free to use at Hospice of the Valley