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Mindfulness Matters

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It’s Stress Reduction Sunday. Read my weekly post in the Connecticut Watchdog, This week’s entry, Mindfulness :: Becoming and Dissolving as an Antidote to Stress

In my last entry, Mindfulness: The Art of Living in the Present, I discussed how to start practicing mindfulness. Today, I will continue with instructions with an emphasis on focusing on our breathing.

Why pay attention to breathing? Well, we could pay attention to whatever we like, such as a sound or a candle flame, but breathing confers certain advantages over other objects of attention.

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If you missed this live guided meditation on Friday morning, you can watch it here now. This video and the meditation classroom is brought to you everyday by eMindful.com.

It’s an opportunity to start your day with 45 minutes of self-discovery, examining the unfolding, moment-by-moment process of being. 
Watch now:

Morning Meditation 17 September 2010 eMindful.com from Arnold Kozak on Vimeo.

No one, perhaps, has done more for the transmission of the dharma in the West than Jon Kabat-Zinn and he has done so without ever mentioning the word dharma. 

Anyone who teaches mindfulness in a secular, healthcare setting would probably not be doing so had Jon not started the Stress Reduction Clinic at U Mass Medical Center over 30 years ago.
I first heard Jon speak at a conference in Boston in 1992. Eight years later I went to Worcester to complete the Professional Internship program that he founded at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society. 
It is with great respect and love that I present this talk by Jon.

Perhaps my mind is singular in its craziness, but my experience with others tells me that I’m not alone. Our minds are constantly asking the question: “Am I OK?” To answer this question, there must be an “I” that is relationship to events, circumstances, people and so forth.

“Am I warm enough?” “Do I have enough to eat?” “Does everyone think I’m cool?” “Am I missing out on anything?”

These questions reinforce a duality and also freezes us in time. Such questions take a snapshot of experience and usually a hasty one at that. This snapshot may be taken at a funny angle or taken in such a way that some things are obstructed from our view. Or the picture may zoom in on one aspect of our life in that moment giving it more emphasis than it deserves.

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Of course, a danger in asking the question is that the answer may not be good. We may conclude, “I am NOT OK” and further conclude, “This is awful.” Distress, anguish, and suffering may ensue.
What if we didn’t ask this question, or didn’t ask it so frequently. What if we asked once per month rather than once per second? Chances are that we’d manage our lives just as well and have much less distress to contend with. 
The question, itself, is a leading one. What if instead, we could assume, “I am OK” and then when we looked our circumstances we could do so in a more objective fashion. There may be difficulties or problems to fix in the moment, but we are not the problem.

Mindfulness meditation trains us to be aware of how often we are asking these questions and gives us the option of disengaging from them and returning our attention to this moment, a moment that is free of questions and holds the potential for joy (even when we are working to solve a problem.

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