Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jon Kabat-Zinn: Coming to Our Senses

"Watching our thoughts and feelings come and go is extremely difficult because they proliferate so wildly, and because, even though insubstantial and evanescent, they are so seductive."

"When we find the mind has wandered away from the primary focus of our attention, as is bound to happen over and over again - whether we are featuring the breath, various body sensations, a sense of the body as a whole, or seeing, hearing, feeling, or the stream of thinking, whatever we are attending to - without judgement or condemnation, we simply note what is on our mind at the moment we remember the original focus of our attention, say it's the breath, for instance, and realize that we have not been in touch with it for some time."

"We note that the realization that we are no longer with the breath is itself  awareness and so we are already back in the present moment.  Importantly, we do not have to dispel or push away, or even remember whatever it is that was preoccupying the mind the moment before.  We simply allow the breath to once again resume its place as the primary object of our attention, since it has never not been here, and is as available  to us in this very moment as in any other."

This type of meditation therapy using biofeedback first came to my attention when I went to St.Paul Hospital's Pain Clinic in about 1980.  One of the doctors at the clinic sent me to the Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Robert McGraw and three joint replacements later I'm waiting for yet another joint replacement.  Pain is not an easy enemy to defeat.  

On the other hand, it turns out that meditation is really catching on for not only relief from pain and stress but as a whole new philosophy of living called Mindfulness which is championed by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  He has been on his soap box trying to convince people of the intelligence of this approach to daily living for over 35 years.  He has taken it from his teaching students at the Harvard Medical School to the rest of us schlubs,  if we are willing to listen to his wisdom.  Many psychologists and psychotherapists have jumped on the bandwagon and Mindfulness has become a part of the vernacular of Self-Improvement.

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