Full Catastrophe Living: the first month

I’m currently in my period of Active Recovery. A time where my mental health comes first and everything else second. The cornerstone of this time is the book: Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a wonderful book about the miracle of mindfulness. Living in the moment. Fully experiencing each moment. Returning to our inherent wholeness. Breathing.

This is not my first experience of practicing mindfulness but what I realised quite quickly is even though I read the book last time, I didn’t really commit to it wholeheartedly. I did some of the exercises, some of the time, took weekends off etc. etc. To be fair on myself I was very energy-depleted and unsure. This time there is no compromise, I am doing all of the exercises, all of the time. No excuses! It’s quite a big commitment, especially when your cat dies. I’m up to week 4 which is over an hour of mindfulness exercises. Every day I do a 15-20 minute mindfulness of breath meditation where I sit on my zafu and feel my belly moving with my breath, when my mind wanders I bring it back again, and again, and again. So far it’s been untraumatic, I haven’t had any terrible moods where I want to jump out of my skin. I’ve just sat there and breathed and my mind has wandered here and there and I’ve said “oh no you don’t” and brought it back to my breath.

For the first two weeks I did a 45 minute body scan 6 days a week. Briefly this involves being aware of each part of your body in turn from the toes of your left foot, to up your left leg, to up your right leg and then up your torso and arms to your head. You breathe into each body part, being aware of all the sensations in that part before releasing it and moving on to the next one. This body scan has made me aware that I have no pain or tension in my body at any time. My body is so at peace that I only have to deal with falling asleep, not coping with any pain. In fact the only tension comes from a stiff neck from holding it for still so long doing the body scan! It almost makes me glad because I get some pain practice but it’s frustrating because it’s so easy to remedy I have to stop myself jumping up to move it.

The other practice that’s been introduced is mindful yoga. I think I’d like to do a whole post on this because this is right up my alley, being a yogi and all.

So all in all the mindfulness part of my active recovery is going well. I’ve got the formal practice down and I’ve found that it is easier for me to be mindful of my body and my mind at other points during the day. Now what I need to work on is informal practice, being mindful of mundane parts of my day. Jon Kabat-Zinn suggests picking one routine- eg. cleaning, washing, preparing food and staying mindful within that activity. I will try preparing food mindfully this next week.

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