Mindfulness for Change, Part 8

I hope everyone has taken some time to be present during the past week. That you've connected to joy of family, to the smells of good food cooking, to the sights of decorations and to your inner self. That mindful breathing has provided a way for you to manage the stressors and the strivings that often come with this time of year.

Two weeks ago, I was writing about how when we mindfully notice, spending time in the places that challenge us, we find that we can trust that the situations we are in are ones that we can handle, that they will work out. Not always as we would choose, but work out in a way we can handle.

In this way, we can think of life as having a flow.

A flow which while we may be able to influence it at times, is generally beyond our control. But mindful practice can help us accept this and all it means.

I know that there have been many times, much of my earlier life in fact, when I tried to control the flow of my life and even of things beyond myself. By controlling everything I seemed to think that I would be able to get to the places I wanted to be. By controlling everything, I tried to keep bad things from happening. Then, I could be happy.

Needless to say, I never had that much control. Life always went along as it did, occasionally influenced by me, but never controlled by me. And so I would be anxious, stressed, angry, and worrying about outcomes that I never really did control. I commonly hear similar stories from the clients I work with.

"Things working out isn't the same as getting what I want", I would protest (usually to myself). If I were to let go of control, trusting that things will work out, then maybe things would happen that I didn't want, or even feared. So for a long time, I continued to struggle with trying to control the world.

But as I meditated, as I practiced breathing and being mindful, the understanding of an idea grew in my mind: acceptance. While I may not want the outcomes that flow from living life, I am able to accept them. I am able to respond to them as I can, to integrate them into my narrative, and to continue on with the flow of my life. I learned to trust that things do work out.

I'll write more about this idea of acceptance as it is so central to the idea of mindfulness, and in my belief, central to how we benefit from mindful practice. But it can also be a challenge to us, especially when we come from backgrounds of trying to control life.

For now, I'd like you to bring in the ideas of flow and of acceptance into your minds as you meditate.

Start by becoming comfortable and beginning your breathing. Just letting the air flow in and out, and just noticing whatever comes into your mind.

After a minute or two of that, introduce the word "flow" or the word "acceptance" into your mind.

Only use one word in a session and you don't have to do anything with it, just let it be in your mind. Just notice the word. Notice what feelings, thoughts, images come up for you.

Stay with this for 2 or 3 minutes and when you're ready, come back to your present.

Some who are reading this, may prefer to do a longer session, that is fine too.

Best wishes for the New Year.

Dave Marks, LCPC 847-299-3400