Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hello from sunny Portland, Oregon

Yesterday was a rainy mess but was sunny bliss. People were upbeat, happy, and had their faces upturned towards the sun. I taught a class today on being present and "in the moment". Having the sun pouring down during the class certainly didn't hurt my case!

I'm reading 3 great books this week about developing the mind/body connection for healing and wellness. I HIGHLY recommend Heal Thy Self: Lessons on Mindfulness in Medicine by Saki Santorelli This book has great applications for all areas of life but especially in the healing arts.

For instance this is Saki quoted on: Awareness of Thoughts and Feelings
"Rather than imagining that all the moments of feeling closed down, fearful, or distant are "sins" to be confessed or repented for, explore the possibility of allowing your sense of curiosity and inquisitiveness to blossom out of the clear moments of awareness. The heart-mind is a vast, fenceless field, full of the unexpected. Often where we hope to find joy we discover grief, where we expect pain we discover gold. Give yourself plenty of room to roam freely in this field. The rules are different here. When was the last time you were invited to play without the pressure of winning or losing breathing down your back? Give yourself the space to look around and learn. Traveling with the breath and with the intention to look directly and lucidly at what is - without preference or judgement - diminishes the feeling of a soap opera and gives rise to a straightforward, compassionate knowing."

He then goes on to lead you through a wonderful practice of allowing awareness to ebb and flow with the breath moment by moment. You can try this at home by simply becoming fully absorbed in whatever activity you happen to be doing. If you are eating then you simply become fully engrossed in the taste of the food, the texture of your mouth as it comes in contact with the food, the smell, etc. If you are walking around the house looking for something you become fully present in each object you touch and look at during the quest. If you start to lose your way and get lost in other thoughts you simply come back to your breath and it anchors you back into the moment. In this way we train our minds and bodies to let go of judging, reacting and instead simply be present. Many studies show that this kind of heightened mind/body awareness training can lower blood pressure, reverse heart disease, and heal the whole person.

So now you have an idea of the direction my teaching is going and the things I will be pursuing professionally in the near future. I'm so glad I took some time tonight to share this with you. Let me know what you think.

Presently yours,



Tay said...

Thanks for sharing this, Jan. Often my life (inside my head) is ruled by "shoulds"...instead of just being present.

Paige said...

I have had this book on my "to read" list, since last summer, when I did the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at UMass Medical School (where Saki Santorelli is director). I had done mindfulness based practice before and did the program in part to reconnect with my practice/myself after going through almost a year of treatment for breast cancer, and in part because one of my goals is to do more mindfulness based stress reduction and treatment for depression and other problems with my clients. I am fortunate enough to live about 40 minutes from Worcester, MA. I highly recommend it if you ever have the opportunity. I am definitely going to follow up on the book. Thank you for the reminder. I've added you to my blogroll.

PetalsYoga said...


One day I'm coming to study under Saki if I get the chance. Maybe we'll get the chance to meet!
I had two different kinds of breast cancer...just like Tay... and I bilateral mastectomies. Each day is a reminder to be thankful and to keep breathing.

Thanks for adding me to your blogroll,


Paige said...

It would be wonderful to meet when you come out this way. I'd also be happy to tell you more about the program if you ever want to talk.
I've had one kind of breast cancer, ILC diagnosed at Stage IIIA so that's plenty for me. I had a mastectomy on the affected side when I was first diagnosed, then had a second one in September.
Yes, it is good to be alive. I put a fair bit of energy into trying to stay that way while also appreciating the moment. I've been more content than usual these last few days and am grateful for that. Yesterday I went for a follow up with my oncologist and really enjoyed seeing everyone and being there. I had laugh at myself for this- who would've thought...