Working with what is…

Maine pond“It is the challenge of this era to stay sane in an increasingly insane world” –Jon Kabat-Zinn

As humans we are both practical and spiritual.  By that I mean, that although we live on this earth,  and have to do the grocery shopping and cook dinner, we also have the capacity to step back, breathe, and simply be aware we are alive.

These days many of us find ourselves adding extra duties to our normal expectations as community and world situations call us to participate in civic action.  The more we add to our reponsibilities, the less able we can become to care for ourselves, thus reducing our effectiveness in general.

We humans are do-ers and we are be-ings, and it gets hard to balance the two!

Jon Kabat-Zinn,  founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, teaches people to live in the world, and at the same time, “rest in the seeing of what is there to be seen.”    His work opens the possibility that we can be effective in our lives and also kind to ourselves.    In fact, our effectiveness is increased as we learn to focus inward. The concept is so simple, yet not an easy thing to do, to step back and see what is, without judgment or attachment.

Retired now, I realize that working full time and a mom of three children felt like a perpetual tightrope walk, despite my training in mindfulness and meditation.  The pressures to be a “good” mom and also be “good” at my work left me feeling that there was never enough of me to go around.

We can find ourselves stuck in the in-between, both wanting to be effective in completing our responsibilities and wanting to experience our lives fully.  We are weighted down with our own definitions of the necessities of daily routines, and become even more burdened when the unexpected arises.

Kabat-Zinn reminds us that “You can only change yourself or the world if you get out of your way…It is indeed a radical act of love to just sit down and be quiet for a time with yourself.”   You deserve it.





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