We just completed another Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) group. MBCT is an evidence-based approach for relapse prevention of depression and anxiety. It’s a group program, where participants learn formal and informal ways of mindfulness meditation that are combined with elements of cognitive therapy. Through mindfulness meditation we come in touch with our own mind, learn its habitual tendencies and have a way of “decentering” from thoughts, feelings and sensations. We learn to come into experience in a new way, that is often liberating because we aren’t coming from our automatic habitual tendencies. We respond from a deeper place of knowing, kindness and wisdom.
As we completed the eight weeks, participants shared that through the practices they learned another way of being and perhaps not just with their depressive symptoms or anxious feelings and thoughts but with just the way they may come to live and be with themselves and in the world. This isn’t new to hear. Repeatedly participants of MBCT and other mindfulness-based programs that we do at the center share this, but I’m ever so touched to hear it from people who know what it is to feel trapped by their thoughts, beliefs and physiological and energetic patterns. I’m touched because I witness a journey. This journey is often not a smooth easy ride. The group moves through rough patches, inner struggles, doubts, encounter parts of themselves that are not easy to allow or be with and slowly come into a gentle navigation of the mind-body. There is a growing sense of acceptance. Acceptance not in a cognitive reframing of the situation but in a way that one can actually be with one’s experience. This acceptance is through allowing and letting be – just this feeling, sensation, thought that arises. Simply allowing the feeling sensation in the body. Letting the fight and struggle just rest. There isn’t creating a new self-talk. Just this being with – simply and gently and then something opens up. This strongly held feeling-sensation slowly uncoils, sometimes revealing an insight or memory. Each time, this is testimonial to the deep richness of the body-mind and our natural capacity to know and come little more into a `being’ state of the mind. Each time, it is not just a witnessing of the group’s journey, it is also a deep dive, a willingness to encounter my own mind.
The beginning of the journey with the group feels like we set sail and know not what how the waters may be. Sometimes moving through choppy waters and sometimes through clear skies. It’s all ok because from repeatedly doing this work with myself and others, there is a trust that builds in an inherent `okayness’ in all things that can be touched into, as I simply breathe, sense myself and be here fully. There is a trust that this same inner sense of knowing, clarity, wisdom, fortitude is also present in the participants. There is a trust that all is held as something in me relaxes and naturally opens up to a wider spaciousness and field of intelligence. There is trust that as we move along we’ll find our way moment-by-moment. To relax as the facilitator that there is no destination to reach and at some time, not on my timeline, but when it is most appropriate for the other, the penny will drop through their own experience. It’s not like parts within me don’t arise, they do but here is yet another opportunity to allow, breathe, see and in that seeing my heart open up as well. Not by doing so much but simply being.
Sharing here a practice from MBCT, the three minute breathing space that really becomes an anchor when reactive tendencies of the mind are encountered.
1. Begin with just pausing. Bringing attention to the thoughts, feelings, sensations in the moment.
2. Breathing with it as a way of acknowledging what’s here.
3. Giving space for what’s here by bringing attention to the whole body.
For more information on our work with Mindfulness, Embodied Therapeutic Presence visit http://www.justbeingcenter.com #mindfulness #allowing #lettingbe