As I left the counseling field, I somehow missed or skipped the continuing ed credits on learning the newest therapy to treat everything from depression to drug addiction-Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is deliberately paying full attention to what is happening around you and within you- in your body, heart and mind. Mindfulness is awareness without criticism or judgement…It is about being present with things just as they are. *
Now many would argue that precludes getting things done, moving forward with your life or staying organized. Rather I see it as taking a break from from the business of busy living to stop and just be the simple you even in your imperfections. Many people speak to the power of it, to be able to take moments and center around your true self. Not in a narcissistic way but more on a day to day level. it is about stopping to smell the proverbial roses and enjoy what you have in life.
By chance, I caught the second part of Carl Reiner’s HBO special , If You are Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast last weekend. To qualify to be in the cast line up, you had to be over age 90 and possess a great attitude on aging. The cast obviously fit that bill as they were over 90 and still kicking it. There were marvelous stories of people still living out their lives with a bold attitude. They were not jumping out of planes or solving the mysteries of science and technology, they were just living and doing what mattered to them. They demonstrated how to approach each day when you do not know if you will wake up the next morning.
These folks were born into the turbulent twenties, the end of the greatest generator and the beginning of the silent generation. My parent’s generation saw far more turmoil than we even think we are seeing today and survived it. I do not want anyone to put them in a study or under a microscope. I rather hope that younger people (boomers) watching this gain a different perspective on aging. Yes some people will see only the frail bodies and weak voices. In truth they are shouting look at us and daring us to do the same, live life like you mean it. Instead of focusing on their aches and pains, anxieties and losses, they are living in their own ‘now’
How many people know octogenarians and nonagenarians who continue to deal with life one day at a time with the steely purpose to make the most of what is the rest of their lives? I hope you can catch this program in reruns ( Saturday June 10, 1:45 PM). The cast is in essence practicing being mindful in their own grand old manner. Perhaps you can learn to occasionally suspend the judgement and criticism we put ourselves through everyday and just be there for yourself, practice may make perfect. That way when you need to you may be able, as the Brits say, to keep calm and carry on.
*How to Train a Wild Elephant & other Adventures in Mindfulness by Jan Chozen Bays, MD