Last week I participated in an online veterans program entitled, “Bringing Mindfulness Home.” I was invited by the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Centerstone to present a 4-week program about mindfulness for veterans, military members and their families. The Cohen Clinic opened in Jacksonville in February just before the pandemic lockdown, so online was the only way to share this class.
The theme I explored was “Mindfulness of the Breath.” Participants had the opportunity to participate and experience this basic part of mindfulness – following the breath as we inhale and exhale – and returning to the breath anytime we notice that we are distracted.
Dealing with Distractions
This is a good practice for today. I suspect, that like me, you may be distracted. We are distracted by the news, by advice from all corners, by family obligations, home-schooling children, worrying about aging loved ones. The list goes on. When we stop and notice our breath, we can bring peace into what Williams and Penman so aptly call, “a frantic world.”
Being vs. Doing
Just the practice of following our breath can bring us into the present moment to stop and just notice what is present without judging it. It gives us the chance to be a “human being,” not a “human doing,” or a “human thinking.”
Turn Toward the Difficult
In chapter nine of Mark Williams and Danny Penman’s book, Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World, the title is, “Turning Toward Difficulties.” Many of us are facing difficulties – health, financial, emotional. The invitation is to turn toward these difficulties and accept what we are going through. But acceptance isn’t throwing our hands up in despair. Williams and Penman write, “Acceptance in the context of mindfulness is not the passive acceptance of the intolerable. It is not ‘giving up,’ nor is it resignation…Acceptance is a pause, a period of allowing, of letting be, of clear seeing.” (P. 165)
The invitation today is to turn toward your life – joys and sorrows alike – to bring mindfulness home and to be present to see clearly that we are not alone. Goodness and love are part of this difficult time. I will be with you in the journey.
With much Metta,