Mindfulness Training for Health and Wellbeing

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This blog is about stopping.

When was the last time that you truly stopped physically and, at the same time, rested in the mind. Many of the participants in my mindfulness classes report the challenge associated with doing this even for a few minutes, let alone over a 15 minute mindful meditation.

I was inspired by the power of stopping, as described by Robert Frost in the following poem where he describes a person stopping by woods. Just for fun, try reading it at what you would consider a slow speed….say 70 percent of your normal reading rate and inviting yourself to stay open to all that can be experienced in the words. It also happens to be one of my favourite winter poems.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village, though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sounds the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost

In the first stanza, I am inspired by the line: “To watch his woods fill up with snow”. Is this not what we undertake metaphorically when we stop to practice mindfulness meditation — to observe and experience what otherwise may be not seen or given a second look (like the silent observing of your breath over a 15 minute session).   As well, do we not have our own horse(s) in our lives who will “give their harness bells a shake” as an inquiry into what we are doing when we spend time taking our seat and cultivating inner balance? I fondly recall our cat doing this.

Over the next several days, many of us will be altering our routine and taking a much needed break from work. You may want to consider that this time presents a golden opportunity to practice stopping, whether it is for a few minutes of silence while resting in the awareness of breathing or simply making an inner effort to slow down consistently over a few minutes in your precious life. And, who knows what you might discover.