Friday, June 8, 2012

Books I Want: Mindfulness

I'm embarking on an effort to really improve my life this summer - physically, mentally, emotionally. A physical therapist will help me with the physical - I've had leg pain pretty much every day for months now, and I am determined to run again. I've found a shrink who should be able to help with the mental and emotional part (yay shrink!), but in reality, I have to help myself with that. The shrink can only tell me so much - I have do the hard part myself.

So, where do I start with that? Books, of course.

I'm starting out with mindfulness and radical acceptance - terms I only recognized because the store has books with those titles. These are very Buddhist ideas. I'm a fan of Buddhism - there's a lot of peace involved with that religion, when practiced correctly. (Isn't that the key to every religion?)

Mindfulness (according to the first chapter of this book) is being aware of how things really are in the world around you. Rather than blowing events out of proportion, mindfulness allows you to take a step back from everything and recognize life without your own fool self getting in the way.

This seems pretty connected to the first of Buddha's four noble truths: life is suffering, a.k.a. shit happens. Mindfulness is being aware of that, without letting it tear you apart. It is one of the seven factors of enlightenment.

The idea behind the book seems like it would work: it's a set of meditations, which allow you to experience emotions more briefly, so that you don't end up in a sneaky hate spiral. Recognize what you feel, and then step back from it. That emotion? It happened. The end.

This practice can be applied in many ways, apparently - even through knitting.

This book describes how to use knitting as a method of meditation. In a way, knitting is meditation for those who practice it. It's calming, and when you have to knit many rows over and over again, in the same way, your mind has two choices: get bored and set it aside, or let it relax you. Why not go for the day-at-the-beach version? There are several chapters describing how this works, followed by designs to help you practice.

Radical acceptance, from what I can tell, is about accepting life the way it is, and accepting ourselves the way we are. So the steps seem to be 1) mindfulness - full awareness of how life is, and 2) radical acceptance - recognizing that life is what it is, and going with the flow. It's described much better here (and by a professional at that!).

I think everyone could benefit from a little more mindfulness and radical acceptance. Here's to more peace and happiness.

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