Ah, to be living in the Republic of California. It’s been described to me as “a state of consciousness.” Between the hippies, the large number of practicing Bhuddists and the gorgeousness of the weather and outdoors, I can see why there is an emphasis in California on chilling out.
In the past 3 years, I’ve graduated with a Masters degree in software, sold a house I renovated, moved to Australia and back, changed jobs a couple of times and found myself feeling utterly ragged. You could say I’ve discovered that being an adult with a great career is, well, IT’S FREAKING COMPLICATED…and stressful…and confusing.
Here in California, I’ve found some peace. I won’t say that my life and my job are always peaceful, but I’ve found a way to dance with it. Last summer, I found an opportunity that I think only exists in California. I took a class called, “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.” At the base of it is using “mindfulness” to help reduce everyday stress in your life. Much of it comes from Bhuddism, altough if you really get to the heart of it, I think most major world religions have some concept of mindfulness. In the workbook, “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction,” mindfulness is defined as, “the practice of cultivating nonjudgmental awareness in day-to-day life.”
Here is a small taste of what I’ve learned through studying mindfulness:
- Polarized thinking is a type of thought distortion where “things are black or white, good or bad. You have to be perfect or you’re a failure. There is no middle ground.”
- If you start a sentence with, “She is just so…” or “He really thinks that…” you are about to judge someone.
- Emotions are complicated and have nuance. Just look at all the different types of anger: aggravation, agitation, annoyance, destructiveness, disgust, envy, frustration, irritation, grouchiness, grumpiness or rage.
At the heart of practicing mindfulness is meditating as a way of practicing self-awareness. Everyday, for at least 15 minutes, I listen to my body and what it is telling me. Are there areas where I am feeling stress? If I look at my thoughts passing by as if they were in a stream, what do I see? I now know what my stress reactions are and since I can see them and notice them, they pass away more quickly. To study mindfulness is to study the acceptance of change and impermanence in life. Accepting change and impermanence flows into practicing safety, forgiveness and loving-kindness.
It’s taken me a while to blog about my dedication to mindfulness, but the next chapter in my credo work is on human nature, and I can’t blog about humanity, software and building a credo without first introducing mindfulness. The great part of it is that I am at another confluence of an interest in my personal life that is, cosmically, making it’s way into my work. As my way of embracing California, I’ve been attending a Unitarian church. It is purple inside and they don’t care if I wear flip-flops to their service. To address my needs in their church, they are having a service next Sunday on Mindfulness. I think I like California.
Until the next post, I’d like to leave you with something I wish for all of you whenever I meditate:
May you be safe
May you be healthy
May you have ease of body and mind
May you be at peace
May all beings, everywhere, be at peace