When I first began my journey towards the healing arts...yoga, reiki, meditation, hypnotherapy, etc., I was anything but mindful. I felt that all of that mindfulness was a waste of my busy time! I had a friend who used to call me a "do be" or a "human doing" instead of a human being because I was always busy and not happy unless I was rushing from one thing to the next constantly. At one point in my life I actually used a calendar to schedule when I would sleep. It was during a second degree program I was studying and there was one day of the week where I went straight from school to one job, and then on to another. Other days I had 16 or 17 hours of work (not to mention studies), and another day I had 12 hours of school, and one of those days only allowed for a brief nap to a yoga nidra recording before I had to rush off to the next place. Fortunately, I've never required much sleep, but that was a ridiculous year!
When I discovered yoga and meditation it really began to shift things in my life, yet it was a long and gradual progression to get where I am today. I remember taking an MBSR course about 7 years ago. I'd finally learned to enjoy silent retreats and even days of silent meditation so I thought surely mindfulness would be a piece of cake and probably even fun. That day I was rushing across the bridge a bit late and then there was an accident. I arrived quite late as well as starving, and this was to be the day we would do the infamous raisin exercise! The raisin exercise, if you are unfamiliar is a practice to teach mindful eating. Small boxes or raisins are passed out to all participants, who are then instructed to take one (and only one) raisin from their mini box. We were then guided to feel our raisins. Observe our raisins...all the tiny crevices...the texture...the color...the size, etc. Then we were guided to smell our raisins. To think of all the people who were necessary for this raisin to be in our hands today...the grape farmers, the packaging plant, the truckers, the supermarket, etc. This goes on for at least 5 or 10 minutes and my stomach is gurgling audibly even to my neighbors. Then, praise be, we are told to put the raisin in our mouth, but NOT chew it!?! What?!? Oh this is torture, but OK. We are told to feel it on our tongues, taste it, feel the texture, roll it around our mouths, and then after about 2 min, we are told to chew it, but only once or twice and NOT to swallow it. To again notice the flavor, the change of shape, the texture, how much or how little the mouth is salivating, etc. Then we are instructed to chew another time or two, and this whole exercise goes on for a good 15 to 20 minutes, by the end of which I was so annoyed my face was red and my breathing uneven. We went on to do some other exercises and techniques, and soon I did forget the mini box of raisins I had jammed into my sweater pocket.
I don't recall exactly where I stopped on my way home from the class, but I know I did stop somewhere, leaving my sweater on my carseat in sunny FL. I got back in and put my sweater back on as I pumped up the AC. At a red light, I felt something jabbing into my ribs and reached my hand into my pocket only to pull out my sticky, melted mini raisin box! I was so frustrated at this point with the entire episode that I stuffed the whole sticky glob in my mouth, swallowing it with very little mastication done on purpose and then I rang my MBSR teacher to tell her what I thought about the whole raisin adventure, lol!
Fast forward 7 years and I recently did this same exercise with one of my groups, though I only tortured them for about 5 to 7 minutes! Today, mindfulness is very much a part of my life. In fact, I even teach my clients mindful breathing and some simple open focus techniques to help them be present from the very first time they come to see me. I also utilize these practices myself throughout the day. By becoming Mindful and opening our focus we become aware of so many new possibilities, not to mention the things we are grateful for and the things we value the most. We can learn acceptance and to just Let It Be. Mindfulness has even been shown to change the structure of the brain and help people heal from seemingly insurmountable mental and physical difficulties. Combining Yoga, Mindfulness, Meditation, Reiki, and Hypnosis helps me to keep up with my own practices while helping others.