As is true for most of us, “awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose in the present moment, as non judgmentally as possible” (Jon Kabat-Zinn) was a part of my life before I knew the word “mindfulness”. This type of awareness showed up certain times when I was playing outside with friends, being creative, spending time in nature, reading a book, running, eating delicious foods, doing yoga, or even studying. It showed up when I was trying to understand my emotions, feeling deep sadness or anger, and when I was connecting with others or feeling the vulnerability of trying to connect with others. My awareness was in the present to some degree or another when I felt joy or contentment, and when emotions were so clear and raw that I had no other choice but to wake up to them.
Then I attended a free Dialectical Behavior Therapy training, and the trainer used the word mindfulness to describe a strange activity we did with a raisen (you will learn more if you take an MBSR course 😊I wasn’t sold, but I was intrigued.
Then I read “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat Zinn, and the love affair began. I integrated what I was learning into my own teaching of DBT skills with good effect. I took an MBSR course. I learned it is possible to cultivate this capacity to be present, and harness its power to wake up to and with life. I learned that despite my generally “good life” and positive outlook, I wasn’t already, naturally awake and being myself most of time. So, I picked up the thread that had been stitched into my life at times of joy, peace, sorrow, and overwhelming anger, and I started sewing.