“Week Eight is the rest of your life!”
As I read this bold statement in the last chapter of my Mindfulness book, I was briefly taken aback, but then it made complete sense.
After all, my mindfulness meditation experiences over the past seven weeks have been amazing. I am now able to self-manage my thoughts and spend more time living mindfully in the present moment. As a result, I feel calm and more at peace with my life exactly as it is right now.
I have also discovered that mindfulness meditation is an extremely effective tool for self-managing my ongoing rehabilitation, concussion symptoms and chronic pain. Therefore, I now have a valuable addition to my self-management toolkit.
As I embarked on my final week of my eight-week program, I felt quite confident in my ability to cultivate my own mindfulness life practice.
However, I also knew that I would need a detailed mindfulness plan in place soon.
Therefore, my primary objective during week eight was to create a sustainable three-month plan, using all of the information, tools and experiences that I had gleaned over the past seven weeks.
The concept of creating a plan during the last week was very familiar to me.
It’s the same situation as we have in our University of Victoria six-week chronic pain self-management workshops.
As a workshop facilitator, I help our workshop participants as they develop their own sustainable three-month action plan during the final week’s workshop.
Having a daily routine for my mindfulness meditations will be critical to my long-term success.
Consequently, I first created a daily mindfulness meditation plan that I will use for the next three to six months of practice. I then followed the plan for the past week, making adjustments as needed. It worked very well.
Here’s a synopsis of my long-term daily routine, although I’m sure that it will require further adjustment and fine-tuning over time:
– Five deep, mindful breaths
– Gentle body stretch
– Mindfulness of Body & Breath meditation
This fifteen-minute routine first thing in the morning enables be to be fully awake and mindful in the present moment.
– Short trail run
– Leg stretches
– Mindful Movement meditation
Three times a week, I go for a short trail run. I follow a running rehabilitation program developed by the University of Buffalo concussion clinic. After I have finished my run and stretches, I do the Mindful Movement mediation that further adds to the peace and calm that I feel after running.
– Breath and Body meditation
My Breath and Body meditating around mid-afternoon ensures that I am fully awake, mindful and calm for my afternoon and evening time with our children.
– Befriending meditation
Doing the Befriending meditation is a wonderful meditation to do before going to bed and sleep. These phrases from the meditation are especially comforting.
May I be safe and free of suffering
May I be as happy and healthy as it is possible for me to be
May I have ease of being
Befriending affords me the opportunity to offer a gift of kindness, love, friendship and compassion towards myself and indeed everyone on our beautiful planet. It’s the perfect way for me to be mindful and thankful before I lay down to rest.
Other Meditations – as required:
These are other guided meditations that I use as needed
The Body Scan – a longer meditation that I use when I need to fully re-connect with my body and the sensations of the body and breath.
Exploring Difficulty – an excellent meditation that I use for facing and overcoming major challenges, difficulties and fears that I periodically experience in my life.
Sounds and Thoughts – a meditation that I tend to use when I am stuck in a noisy environment. Rather than feel disturbed by the noise, I examine the sounds and my thoughts through this meditation.
The Three Minute Breathing Space – a quick and effective meditation that I use for those hectic moments when I need to feel calm and grounded.
Since taking my eight-week mindfulness course, I now take advantage of everyday activities, such as shaving, cleaning teeth, dishwasher, laundry, cooking, eating, and housework, to practice being mindful in the moment.
Finding peace in a frantic world is not easy. On occasion, stress and anxiety can be overwhelming. During these times, I always remind myself that when you are close to the edge, you are close to truth.
My new mindfulness meditation practice has given me renewed hope for finding peace, by being mindful in the moment and okay with myself as I am right now.
However, maintaining my mindfulness meditation practice over the long term will not be easy. Staying the course requires commitment, dedication and hard work.
The rewards however are huge!
It’s really encouraging to hear from others that mindfulness meditation is already having a noticeable impact on my life and the lives of others. My wife Marjory recently told me that I had become calmer and more at peace over the past few weeks. She feels that my mindfulness meditation is responsible for the change.
When I first started my eight-week Mindfulness program, I thought that it might at least help me self-manage my rehabilitation, concussion symptoms and chronic pain. It has done this and also so much more.
Mindfulness meditation has made my life richer and it has changed all aspects of my life for the better.
Here are some final words from Danny and Mark’s Mindfulness book that for me capture the essence of mindfulness meditation.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
empty of it’s furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Jalaluddin Rumi, the thirteenth-century Sufi poet, in The Essential Rumi,
translated by Coleman Barks, 1999
In closing, remind yourself that the deepest stillness and peace does not arise because the world is still, or the mind is quiet. Stillness is nourished when we allow the world, the mind and the body to be just as they are for now, moment by moment, and breath by breath.
At this time, I wish to again thank Professor Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman for writing their amazing book that inspired me to take this pivotal eight-week Mindfulness journey.
As you might expect, I thoroughly recommend that you consider buying their book for yourselves. It includes a link to download all of the guided meditations.
You can find out more about “Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World” at http://www.franticworld.com
If you enjoyed this blog and wish to read others in my Mindfulness series, please go to http://blogs.theprovince.com/tag/mindfulness/
Thank you for reading my blogs. Following a short break, I hope to be back with other similar blogs in the near future.
Warm wishes to you all.
John Murphy is a volunteer Program Leader with the University of Victoria’s Centre on Aging, based in Ladner, BC. He currently facilitates their 6 week Chronic Pain Self-Management workshops (2½ hour per week) available free of charge across BC, to adults and caregivers who are dealing with chronic pain.
For more information on our Chronic Pain Self-Management workshop and other free of charge workshops, follow this link to our website:
Other Self-Management workshop and programs include:
– Arthritis and Fibromyalgia
– Chronic Disease