Reflections on MBSR: Week 3

Zombie Apocalypse

I am biting back laughter as I walk conscientiously down the stairs. If I were witnessing this spectacle, I would be taking pictures and texting my husband.

OMG. I just saw six people walking around outside. Just like ZOMBIES. Only in Florida.

Dr. Shutt has introduced us to walking meditation. Our practice consists of being mindful with each step. Each step is taken with care, noting the ground beneath our feet. While walking, we softened our gaze and focused on the ground. We start inside, taking slow steps back and forth on our yoga mats. It’s unusual, but who cares? We all signed up for MBSR. That’s all that matters. The yoga mat feels squishy. The pace is painfully slow and I soon realize slow walking is as frustrating as being caught behind a slow driver. A few more paces and we can get to the good stuff – sitting meditation.

Not quite, though. With mindfulness bells in hand, Dr. Shutt tells us that we will walk outside. We shouldn’t stray too far from the building. When we hear the bells, we are instructed to slowly make our way back. She magnanimously offers us the option to stay indoors. None of us take it. With orchestrated movements, we put on our shoes and file down the steps. My giggles begin.

There is something inherently ridiculous about walking at a snail’s pace with five other people. Really, what is this accomplishing? I feel my cheeks turn flush as I turn the sidewalk corner and see neighbors on the other side. I am trying to focus on my steps.   I admire one of the many delights of our tropical oasis, a pink hibiscus. Birds are chirping and I use their melodies as my meditation anchor. As I walk further away from my classmates, I begin to enjoy the experience. Just as I am prepared to walk further, I hear the bells in the distance. All of us meander upstairs. I notice my classmate’s muscles flex with each step. The wooden steps creak and bend as we make our ascent.

With levity, we agree that we did resemble zombies. Dr. Shutt is quick to draw the distinction between our zombie apocalypse and the mindfulness activity we have just completed. We are not undead and mindless, searching for delicious, human flesh. Walking meditation allows us to be fully present, focusing on our external surroundings. By pacing ourselves, we can actually begin to notice. It is another way to cultivate mindfulness and break free from whatever has the ability to make us zombie-like. Put down the phone. Turn off the music. Slow your roll. Breathe. Feel. See. Hear. Live.

New MBSR Dates

Free MBSR Introduction and Orientation

  • Wednesday, September 9th at 5:30 pm
  • Friday, September 11th at 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday, September 15th at 5:30 pm
  • Saturday, September 19th at 11:30 am
  • Wednesday, September 23rd at 5:30 pm

This FREE  Introduction and Orientation is required to participate in the 8-week workshop. Additional times may become available, please contact us for more details at (561) 278-6033 or info@sacredtreehouse.org.

Click here to  Sign up online

National Yoga for Vets Day, Monday, November 9th at 1:00 p.m.

 

Photo credit: Dan Abramson
Photo credit: Dan Abramson

 

National Yoga Day for Vets

Palm Beach, Florida

Monday, November 9th at 1:00 p.m.

Ralph Iovino, ERYT500, will lead a therapeutic, trauma sensitive yoga class for veterans.  Class limit: 10 veterans.  Please call 561- 302-5975 to RSVP.

Event will be held at Sacred Treehouse (aka Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches):

250 Royal Court

Delray Beach, Florida 33444

Directions:

  • From I-95, take exit 56 to Woolbright Rd.

  • Proceed heading east (4 traffic lights)

  • Turn right onto US 1 (Federal Highway)

  • Proceed south approximately five miles.

  • Turn right at George Bush Blvd.

  • Cross railroad tracks and make first left onto N.E. 3rd Ave.

  • Proceed to Sacred Treehouse/Therapeutic Oasis.

  • Yoga studio is located on second floor.

  • Parking is located across the street, in overflow parking lot.

Reflections on MBSR: Week 2

Inviting the Uninvited

This week, Dr. Shutt asks us to meditate on Rumi’s “The Guest House”.   This poem illustrates the importance of inviting the uninvited. MBSR is teaching us to accept all of our experiences. Read and consider:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexepected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

Translation by Coleman Barks

My meditation on Rumi:

Control makes us miserable. We may be grasping for control without any awareness. Other times, control may give us a false sense of calm and comfort. We try so hard to control people, events and ourselves. How well has this worked? For myself, I have felt most out of control when I was trying too hard to predict outcomes, resist moods, or change others.

Mindfulness teaches us to be observers instead of interpreters. By constantly striving to interpret our experiences, we exhaust our greatest resource – the mind. Reacting, catastrophizing, personalizing – all of these thought patterns create a cloudy existence. Every pain could lead to death. Thoughtless, benign slights turn into grave offenses. How many times have we lashed out and overreacted?

Rumi challenges us to invite the uninvited. We are all vulnerable to sadness, pain, grief, and shame. We may choose to ruminate, getting lost in dark pathways of the mind. We cannot control what shows up, but we have an amazing power available to us through mindfulness practice. When we meditate, we allow ourselves enough space to process our experiences without judgment. When we extend an invitation to all of our experiences, we see with clarity our universal experience. When I sit with myself, I am honoring all parts of being. Today, I live with a grateful heart.

Reflections on MBSR: Week 1

“A mind that is fast is sick. A mind that is slow is sound. A mind that is still is divine.” – Meher Baba

A series of intuitive decisions and curious circumstances lead me to this Wednesday morning. This is the first of eight Wednesday mornings where six eager students will learn the ways of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR. Through collating documents, printing flyers, and snooping around on bookshelves, I learned that MBSR is a stress reduction program founded by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. Dr. Kabat-Zinn elaborates on MBSR in Full Catastrophe Living – the MBSR equivalent to the Bible. Some core MBSR principles, as identified by Dr. Kabat-Zinn, include:

  • Non-Judging
  • Patience
  • Beginner’s Mind
  • Trust
  • Non-Striving
  • Acceptance
  • Letting Go

As a typically impatient, anxious, untrusting of life’s great processes type of person, I knew I had been divinely led to this opportunity. All of my personal progress within the last year and a half had endowed me with enough sense to actually see the opportunity. My own self-growth now included a meditation practice in its infant stages. I would sometimes lie down in silence, repeating affirmations and noting thoughts. Other times, I would go to YouTube for guided meditations that sounded more robotic than human (and usually accompanied by really awful sound effects). I was lucky if I made it through twenty minutes without falling asleep or thinking about some far-off event. My mind had gone from fast to slow-ish. How would it even be possible to experience that divine stillness?

The journey to this divine stillness begins with Dr. Shutt. We sit on our yoga mats, all of us resembling children, as she explains non-judgment and beginner’s mind. After gentle yoga stretches, we return seated onto our mats. We hold out our hands while she pours Craisins into our palms. We are instructed to approach our food with an unknowing mind. We smell, touch, taste, and chew slowly. In a slightly breathy and completely soothing voice, Dr. Shutt guides us through a body scan. Each bone, muscle and ligament is analyzed. Does it hurt? Is it warm? What feels good today?

We are instructed to go home and practice mindfulness through daily use of the body scan, mindful meals, and simply paying attention. I savor my yogurt. I listen to my internal dialogue. I complete Dr. Shutt’s recorded body scans daily. Along the way, I have small moments of realization. Why do I look for only negative sensations during the body scan? What does this say about how I filter all of my experiences? There were larger revelations too. This practice, although solitary, benefits from group learning and exposure. It was through discussion that I realized that we all fall asleep or wander off. Beginner’s struggles are not unique. We all come to this class for various reasons. We share judgments and anxieties, holding on to “stuff” for far too long. We rush and react our way through life.

Those of us who have gathered are seekers. We are hopeful that change is possible. I have read and heard that prayer is speaking to the Divine, while meditation is listening. Using all of our senses, we are now ready to turn inward and listen.

Class Schedule

Fall 2015 Class Schedule

Mondays

  • Gentle Yoga 8:30 – 9:30 am
  • Beginning Meditation 10:00 – 11:00 am

Tuesdays

  • Vipassana Meditation 6:00 – 7:00 pm

Fridays

  • Art Journaling 11:00 – 12:00 pm

Saturdays

  • Gentle Yoga 10:30 – 11:30 am