“The Mindfulness Solution” by Ronald D. Siegel, PsyD. Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School offers lessons in being present in the moment.
This irreplaceable moment – and all moments are fleeting-may in fact be a painful one. So maybe you’d rather zoom past it, wolfing it down like a bad-tasting meal, but also missing its meaning. The practice of Mindfulness helps you appreciate both aspects of such paradoxes, helping you notice gorgeous, pleasurable, all-too-brief, dimensions of experience, while simultaneously inviting you to explore the variety and fluidity of negative things. “Having sadness in our lives,” Siegel writes, “doesn’t just make it possible to recognize joy. It make it possible to feel joy.” Deny pain, and you ‘dampen’ pleasure. Emotional and physical pain have two ‘arrows’-the actual sensation of it, and the anxiety we add to it-and those can be separated. Siegel offers slow-Down and Open-Up exercises, beginning with that old pal, your breath, revealing the inter-connectedness of pleasure and pain, which actually has a varied palette –stinging, burning, pinching– or even just interesting. He describes exercises with meditative themes: imagine you are an eternal mountain surrounded by the flickering changes of the trees and the seasons ; this helps widen the landscape, and by inviting curiosity, changes the bluntness of good and bad. Couples, in another exercise, can be mindful together, face to face, each magically imagining the other at all phases of life, from childhood, through right now, onto old age. “Be aware that your partner has had thousands of moments of joy and sorrow, fear and anger, longing and fulfillment-just like you.” Walking Meditation helps you to notice in the slowest of slow motion the incredible fullness we have-if we notice it-in each step we take.
“I remember vividly my first extended meditation retreat…I wasn’t expecting what happened and could scarcely believe what I felt. I stepped into an ordinary shower stall and found that the sensations of thousands of water drops hitting my skin, combined with the slippery, sensual soap gliding over my body, was almost overwhelming.” page 60