Reflections on MBSR – Conclusion

MBSR is concluding. There are only two weeks left and I feel terribly sad that I won’t share this particular space with these particular people on Wednesday mornings. I also feel slightly nervous about continuing practice without such intensive guidance. What will my practice look like on my own? Can I “drop in” to meditation without Dr. Shutt’s assistance?

Prior to participating in the program, my meditation practice was fledgling.   I was very attached to a certain way of meditating and I often fell asleep very quickly. MBSR has taught me one of the key principles of non-attachment. My meditation practice doesn’t have to look a certain way. I am just as capable of controlling my thoughts as I am herding cats. External stimuli will always exist.

Instead of being bothered by what is uncontrollable, I have embraced open awareness. I can allow thoughts and sensations to pass through like clouds in the sky. I can embrace sounds and movements as energy, and even incorporate them into my meditation. The sounds of birds chirping, dogs barking, or even a lawn mower can become anchors in my practice.

Mindfulness and meditation have allowed me to slow down. Instead of reacting, I THINK. Is it True, Helpful, Intelligent, Necessary, or Kind? Developing mindfulness has allowed me to develop compassion for others. I often remind myself that others may be more reactive or stressed. By practicing mindfulness, I can extend patience and compassion to everyone I meet.

MBSR has undoubtedly improved the quality of my life. I no longer feel obligated to make instant decisions, rushing through my life with resentments or regrets. I can choose to make each day intentional. This intentionality is extended to my body, breath, observations, and movements. I can renew myself each day with quiet time for myself, or lift my arms in combination with my breath, feeling life course through me. I reflect on my MBSR experience, and am reminded of a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh in The Art of Power:

“Our society is founded on a very limited definition of power, namely wealth, professional success, fame, physical strength, military might, and political control. My dear friends, I suggest that there is another kind of power, a greater power: the power to be happy right in the present moment, free from addiction, fear, despair, discrimination, anger, and ignorance. This power is the birthright of every human being, whether celebrated or unkown, rich or poor, strong or weak.”

If you are looking for an alternative, MBSR is a great beginning.