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OMMMMMM! Or ZZZZZZZZZ! Mindfulness Stress Reduction

rafiki3I am enrolled in a 10 week course titled, “Mindfulness Stress Reduction.” One of the key components is the 45 minute body scan.  The object is to develop body awareness by listening to the voice of Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in this practice, while noticing each body part. Quite literally, one must assess the condition of the little toe on the left foot and proceed from there.  As a result of increased body awareness, new neural pathways are established that assist one in living in the moment without judgement or anxiety, resulting in a greater sense of well-being.  I have to confess though, that the first time I did this exercise last week, I was fast asleep before I even got to my left big toe. I woke up with a strained back and my soft palate felt stimulated, a sure indication that I had indeed been snoring as well!

We left class with the assignment to do the 45-minute scan 6 times in the coming week. That is a rather tall order for most people who are busy. Furthermore, why 45 minutes? Why not a 30 minute or 15 minute scan then get something else done?  Having had an extremely busy week of patients, coaching and hosting a German exchange student, I found little time to scan myself. In fact, I squeezed in only one more scan before I headed off to class yesterday, just so I would be able to participate to some degree in the next class. I laid my yoga mat on the floor, turned on the gas fireplace so I was nice and cozy and tried to scan.  This time, I got up to my left knee then ZZZZZZZZ! Again, I was fast asleep.

My third scan was in class yesterday.  This time, I did not fall asleep. Instead, I scanned a little but let my mind wander A LOT! Meanwhile, I adjusted my position constantly because my lower back had a crick in it from trying to lie flat on a hard floor.  In addition to that, some of the imagery used to create relaxation instead activated my mind:  “Feel your brain gently fall to the back of your skull. Feel the softness in your belly, like a baby.” All I could think of was my brain squished up in the back of my skull and my pre-frontal cortex a cavern of air. My belly was fat and Buddha-like which is only cute in babies and toddlers. Still,I want to add, that this instructor is AWESOME and clearly she is a master at these techniques. I also want to emphasize that the program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn is considered revolutionary and has helped many, many people. I am just reporting how I have experienced the exercise thus far.   OMMMMM? ZZZZZZZZ?  I am not sure yet.

Anyway, after we completed the exercise and were sharing feedback with each other, I had a revelation: before you can really assess these techniques, you MUST do the homework as prescribed.  No sampling the buffet and then drawing definitive conclusions.  So I threw down a challenge for myself: Make it your priority to do the scan for 45 minutes, 6 times per day. No options. No excuses.

So stay tuned. I will tell you how it all went next week. Ommmmmmm……

Click here for updated blog on Mindfulness Stress Reduction and Breath Awareness Meditation posted on 11/18/2010.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. c’mon, your one the most stress free people I know, I mean who else would be able to not say a word when their flying down the gravel road @ 65 mph in a ’65 chevy driven by their favorite cousin from Nebraska with all the windows down jamming to Journey or something, or maybe that was fear… naaaaah, couldn’t be I wasn’t scared, I was in complete control, I mean I was 18 and knew everything!

    No really, you have got to be one of the most stress free human beings I know, nothing ever seems to faze you.

  2. The first time I attended a yoga class (18 years ago) I fell asleep at the relaxation/meditation conclusion of the class. I apologized to my instructor and she just said that I probably needed the sleep. She was right, and I tried to get more rest before the next class the following week. I never have fallen asleep in yoga class since then. Now I meditate 20 minutes every day. I have fallen asleep a couple of times, but I just allow myself to slowly fall over onto my side and sleep until the bell rings. I figure I need it and it usually has followed a sleep deprived night. I applaud you for your commitment to doing the practice 6 times for 45 minutes. It would take a gigantic effort for me to spend that much time doing.

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