Moment of Choice

I recently found myself sitting in a gorgeous meadow: sun streaming down, water rushing past, geothermal steam rising from a baby geyser, and a Raven cawing above me in a tree.  This was a particularly precious moment after a week of smoke and heavy rain on our vacation to be in the great western beauty of Montana and Yellowstone Park.

It was also a moment that had been so long anticipated during the week, that when it arrived I hardly knew what to attend to first!  I wanted to look at the colors, hear the rushing water, sing along with the Raven, take photos, and close my eyes for meditation.  On and on the mind went with it’s excited directing of the inner show.  Pulling my attention this way and that.

After a few minutes here, and several snapshots later, my mind began to settle and then I settled my bones onto a nearby boulder for further reflection.

This experience left me with the reminder of how we have choice, in every moment, where to place our precious attention.  It may seem small or trite, but if we consider this choice as the centerpiece to the life experience we have day to day, it then seems quite important, perhaps monumental.

We certainly cannot attend to all stimulus in our constantly changing environment and so we make choices.  At work, what do I attend to first, emails, phone messages, meetings, a backlog of paperwork, a deadline fast approaching.  How do we decide when we need to take a break, and place our attention on our low back pain, to move the body or feed the hunger growing in our belly.

Your attention and the relationship you have with it, is in my humble opinion, one of the foremost aspects of our life period.  We often misunderstand that we have no choice here, and that our attention is just an unruly part of our mind.  Yes there is part truth here, the mind’s default mode is to wander, HOWEVER, just as the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction curriculum asserts, we absolutely have the capacity to impact our Default Mode Network, or DMN.  And meditation is a tool that has empirically shown we can turn off our DMN, so that we can be present for the now experience, instead of being pulled around from the past to the future in the blink of an eye.

Science helps us understand this and for a down and dirty version (in regular human terms,) which I am a great fan of, here is a video with Dan Harris, the news anchor and author of the book, 10% Happier.

Yes this is 100% an educational blog to support the work that I do and to invite you to join me for my Fall MBSR 8-week course that begins on October 20th.  We will be meeting Live and In-Person for the first time and I am very excited for this opportunity to be physically in the same environment with you.

We not only cover things like how the DMN works, from a scientific mindset, but also from a practical, daily life stressors mindset.  Each week we introduce a new concept in combination with a new set of meditative practices, then we practice them and have discussions in small and large group settings.  This course is highly experiential in it’s learning, which is to say you will learn by doing the practices themselves.  Second, you will learn from your cohorts in the group and thirdly by my instruction and the curriculum itself.

As a support to your time in the group there are weekly email reminders directing the focus for the week, as well as guided meditations you will use as your home practices (with my voice) and a manual that is electronically provided.

If you have any questions, interest or otherwise want to chew the fat about your wandering Default Mode Network and how Mindfulness can help—-I am here!

With Heartfelt Gratitude and Respect,