I started my Journey of mindfulness about seven years ago. I was given the opportunity to take Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at my work and I jumped on it. At the time I had a torn quad, if you are unfamiliar with a torn muscle I envy you, or I did at the time. When that muscle is injured you start to notice how much of your movement is automatic. Sitting, standing, and shifting became excruciating parts of my day. My attention was always on my quad, my thoughts revolved between pain and self-commentary, and the strongest emotion was disappointment.
Going to group involved me hobbling in, precarious balancing positions envied by the most experienced yogis to sit, with the loudest groans or sharp inhales to stand. All the while believing I was present with my emotions and my situation.
With good intentions, my instructor would remind me to breathe, only causing the negative self-talk to continue the myriad of colorful adlibs to continue dancing in my head. But then someone said “Be thankful for the toothache”. Surely I must have misheard, why would I be thankful for my torn muscle, now crippling me forever more. The person continued to explain; the idea, from Thich Nhat Hanh (a Vietnamese Buddhist) is that the toothache reminds us of when we do not have a toothache, and when we bring awareness to the non-toothache we can then be thankful. In other words, be thankful for my torn quad in the present moment, knowing it would change, and then be thankful for when it healed.
The eight weeks passed, during those eight weeks I learned to regard my injury with compassion, I started to see the progress that I made. I started to feel the muscle knit itself back up. I also noticed that my judgements started to fade away, well not fade, but I started to not attach to it.
After the eight weeks I understood why mindfulness was helpful. I continued using it in my personal daily life, and also started using it in my professional life. I worked with clients to help them learn how to be in the present moment, breathe, and chose their next action.
Meditation Practice for this Week
Do this sitting or lying down. If it feels comfortable to you close your eyes, if you chose to keep them open, keep a soft gaze in front of you. For five minutes take natural breaths in and out. Notice the slight pause at the top, the temperature of the air as it enters your nostrils and when it exits. When your mind wanders away, congratulate yourself on having noticed it, and gently bring your awareness back to the breath.
When you have finished, notice if your body feels different, notice your mood, and notice your thoughts. There is no need to judge any of it, we are just noticing things.