Colin Ferguson | SciFi, Toronto and other rants on


Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

I took a course on Mindfulness the past fall.  Mindfulness is all about being more in the present moment – in thought, action and sensation.  It’s great for those of us who tend to live in our heads and think into the future.  It also helps those who “rummage in the past” as it’s often said.

The creator of the modern Mindfulness courses is Jon Kabat-Zinn.  He’s a Western Doctor who took Eastern viewpoints/meditative practice and codified them into programs to assist his patients. His first patients, as I understand, are those who had long-term pain or terminal illness. There was little more that western medicine could do for them.  So changing the viewpoint on the illness was the only “cure” available. Evidently  it works.

It’s since been rolled out to other cases; for me it’s about managing stress.  But others have it for depression etc.  It seems that it may not take you from your bad state to a great state alone, but it helps.  Where it really kicks in is when someone is in a good state…it helps them stop falling BACK into that state.

Personally it works great.  It is a commitment for an hour a day (at least) for 8 weeks, plus a full night once a week during that time.  And, of course, integrating it into your daily life thereafter.  The hour during the week would include listening to the MP3s daily, plus doing stuff like trying to be more conscious of a specific action that day such as say brushing your teeth, or eating or whatever.  That’s worked well; I really do taste my food more now. I did give up on being mindful brushing teeth though; it’s too early or late in the day! :)

One that really worked well was the 3 minute meditative break 3 times in the day.  That’s just solid idea anyway no matter if you follow his system or not.

Lots of Health Facilities put this on as do individual meditative practitioners/therapists.  I did my Mindfulness in Hamilton with Susan McBride.  Classes for any of them tend to start Spring, Winter and Fall.

My Experience: Classes were great.  At the same time as I was doing this, I was getting help from a Naturopath for my burnout.  Together they worked great; a few months later I’m feeling better than I have in years.  Life is good.  I’d honestly put it at 80% naturopath, 20% mindfulness. But I think the mindfulness will be useful ongoing for the rest of my life. I noticed too that when I meditated in the later part of the course, it was easier and got deeper each time.  I can see why folks really integrate this into their lives.

The real downside is that Jon Kabat-Zinn’s voice is terrible.  I realize that meditation should be about insight but his delivery is so monotone that it just doesn’t work with me nor with the others that were in my group.  And since you listen to MP3s by him each day it can get wearing.  When the teacher, Susan, found similar material by other speakers I found that really good.

Note: Mindfulness meditation isn’t about relaxing per se; that’s what I expected walking in but really it’s about being more awake, and more conscious of your body.  I and the others in the class, I think found that they needed to do a little relaxation work first, so that they could get a benefit.  After all it is just about impossible to run into class after an active day and be able to instantly be in the space to properly meditate.

2 Responses to “Mindfulness”

  1. - Colin Ferguson's Blog Says:

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