News

Part I

Silence Speaks

January 1, 2019 

Ahhh, a fresh start! This is the year that I will meditate for 20 minutes every day; I will be mindful in all experiences. Loving-kindness and compassion is my motto for 2019! Breathe in … breathe out! I got this.

January 2, 2019

Yay, day two! I knew I could do this. Breathe in, breathe out with loving-kindness. I’ll meditate 10 minutes now and 10 minutes at lunch. 

January 3, 2019

Okay. Today I’ll get back on track. I did pretty good with awareness yesterday. Loving kindness would be easier if people just learned how to drive! Don’t they know its winter?  Oops! Compassion and kindness! Breathe in, breathe out. I can do this. 

January 6, 2019

Why did I think I have time to meditate? I’m not going to live in an Ashram. Hey, maybe I should try yoga … that’s like meditating! 

Sounds familiar? We start off with the best of intentions and quickly run out of enthusiasm, time and energy to maintain a rigid routine. Before long, missing one day leads to two, with a promise to start fresh Monday morning, or next week or next month.

So … What is mindfulness? 

Most have some sense of what mindfulness means and yet it remains unclear as to what it means to ME, in my everyday life. No surprise considering that Google offers about 187,000,000 results to mindfulness. Definitions are helpful in that they provide a common understanding; an opening for discussion.

Merriam-Webster Definition of mindfulness. 1: the quality or state of being mindful. 2: the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis also: such a state of awareness.

Definitions include re-occurring themes: awareness and acceptance of one’s thoughts, emotions, and sensations, while experiencing the present moment. 

Sound easy?

Well … for many, our lives are so filled with doing, being ‘on’ and having more, that ‘multi-tasking’ is our motto and ‘busy’ is a badge of honour. We are very experienced in being ‘mindless’, racing from one obligation to another while juggling multiple roles and responsibilities. Often, we are reviewing the past or planning the future.  If exhaustion and discontent are your daily companions and the elusive ‘someday’ is an unrealized reward, perhaps you wonder it there’s another way.

Mindfulness doesn’t require that you ‘do more’. Being Mindful is an invitation to pause, settle into this moment and engage your sense of wonder. Allow yourself to become aware of your surroundings, your thoughts, and your feelings. And breathe. Just notice the air in your nostrils, throat, and lungs. Just for a moment, accept and appreciate yourself, breathe and be still, with compassion and curiosity. 

Cultivating a mindful lifestyle is much more than meditating 20 minutes a day. A mindful lifestyle is an attitude that, when combined with small, consistent efforts provides a significant increase to our well-being. 

In the beginning, mindfulness practice may include your mind going something like this: Mindfulness, ok, I’m ready! OK, breathe in, breathe out. Ow, my back hurts. Breathe into it. How do I breathe into my back? Am I doing it right? Oh yeah, no right or wrong, just be with it. How do I be with it, what does that mean? Let it go! Ok, I can do that. Breathe in, let go, breathe out. Where does it go? Be here now. Ok, let go and be here now. Okay, I got this. HUMMMMMM, oh wait a minute, maybe it’s Ohmmmm. What’s the difference? Which is better? Oh yeah, no judgement; both are good. Compassion and curiosity. Curious = curiosity killed the cat! Who comes up with these sayings? Wonder … How does wonder fit in? Remember that show, what was it called? Wonder boy? The Wonder Years!! That’s it! Wait a minute, how did I get here?

Cultivating a mindful lifestyle requires practice and patience. With practice, your mind chatter will wind down, like a child’s toy. Just when you think you’ve ‘got it’, you may discover that your mind still has lots to say. Mindfulness is less about trying to achieve ‘no thinking’ and more about becoming aware of when your mind has ‘gone for a stroll around the block’.

Mindfulness Executive Summary ABC’s

A: Attitude, acceptance and appreciation

B: Be still, breathe and be still

C: Curiosity, compassion and commitment

Cultivating a mindful lifestyle is a practice that will evolve in the ebb and flow of life, while encouraging you to be mindfully present and bring forth more of who you are, here and now.

When we allow ourselves to be silent, without demands or pressure to ‘DO’ anything, something shifts. When we stop chasing all that we should or ‘have to’ be or do; silence speaks to the essence of who we are. And that is worth cultivating!

This article originally appeared in WHOLifE Journal – January/February 2019

Submitted by Lorie Harrison, who was our Saskatoon Victor Walk Coordinator when we toured Saskatchewan in July of 2017:

Lorie is a registered counsellor, mindfulness coach and certified Lifestyle Meditation teacher. Managing Legacy Ridge Foundation Trauma Resource and Recovery Centre in Saskatoon, Lorie is inspired by resilience, courage and the capacity for change. As the owner of Mindfully Present Training & Counselling, Lorie facilitates workshops exploring mindfulness, self-awareness, and meditation as lifestyle practices. You can find her at www.mindfullypresent.ca or contact info@mindfullypresent.ca.

Are you a professional working in the field of mental health, trauma or addiction? Want to contribute to our blog? Tuesdays are reserved specifically for content by professionals, so send us an email if you’re interested: contact@breakingfreefoundation.ca.

Resilient You, some days just don’t feel resilient at all. Some days the wounds of our story affect the way we think, feel, breathe. The rough stuff of life affects our deepest Self – it reaches right to our soul.

Care for our souls isn’t always top-of-mind. For some of us, the religious connotation of the word is enough to send us reeling with triggers and memories. But she’s in there – our deepest, most authentic, most true-to-us Self. She needs as much tenderness as the rest of our being.

Parker Palmer says, “The soul is like a wild animal—tough, resilient, savvy, self-sufficient and yet exceedingly shy. If we want to see a wild animal, the last thing we should do is to go crashing through the woods, shouting for the creature to come out. But if we are willing to walk quietly into the woods and sit silently for an hour or two at the base of a tree, the creature we are waiting for may well emerge, and out of the corner of an eye we will catch a glimpse of the precious wildness we seek.” (Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life)

Are you tending to your “wild animal” Self? She may be hard to recognize if she’s been in hiding for a while…or forever. The thought of coaxing the soul out of hiding may feel overwhelming and scary: what will happen if I wake up the deepest parts of myself? Am I safe?

The wounds we bear from trauma can act like a violent act of nature, re-routing us into a life course that feels unfair, dangerous, broken. Facing into that violence is frightening. So Truest Self shrinks into isolation and invisibility, inoculating herself as best she can from further suffering. It’s almost like we fall asleep to entire parts of ourselves as we numbly attempt to tend, tend, tend to the wounds of our hearts and minds and bodies. Those wounds can be so painful and messy that we might lose the heart and energy needed to feel past their searing disruption and into the Self that is beneath them.

That frightened-into-hiding Soul that is longing for belonging, and safety, and some kind of power in her own life.

But our soul is where Hope lives. A very little time spent “sitting at the base of a tree” and coaxing her out has a healing effect on the rest of our traumatized selves.

I wonder what it might be like for us to think about showing a little compassion to our Souls? What does that even look like? Feel like? How do we begin to think-see-feel past the wounding of trauma and get to know the Self that has been buried beneath it?

What if I:

  • Make friends with silence. Sit in silence. What happens there? What do I feel? Could my soul have some things she’d like to say?
  • Think my thoughts. My deep thoughts. Not the surface-y, “I just have to get through this day!” freaked-out thoughts, but my, “I wonder what my life has to offer me? I wonder what my life has to offer a hurting world?” thoughts.
  • Or don’t think my thoughts. What if I sit in silence without any expectation or demand on myself. Could I be so very kind to my weary self, patiently inviting my deepest Goodness to wake up and offer a shifting perspective on what life is all about?
  • Read poetry…slowly.
  • Actually sit at the base of a tree, or by a river, or anywhere that undisturbed Nature is in sight. She has a way of touch-healing my wounds in ways that my endless thinking and striving cannot.
  • Find a listener who is comfortable with pauses and stillness and waiting for my story to come alive.
  • Tell my stories. To that really good listener. To someone who will hold them sacredly and patiently.

What else? When you (take a deep breath in, hold, let it go) consider (just even toy with the idea) of inviting your soul out of hiding, what comes to mind as, “Hmmmm. I wonder if I could do more of ___________…”? There’s no gold star to earn here. Just a gentle invitation to our souls to come out into the open. To be seen. To be known. To live free.

May we have the courage today

To live the life that we would love

To postpone our dreams no longer

But do at last what we came here for

And waste our heart on fear no more…

~J O’Donahue~

 

submitted by Sandra McDonald