Mindfulness is a life long journey that doesn’t require us to change. In fact, it invites us to show up as who we truly are.
I started practicing about 20 years ago at a time in my life when things were feeling a little out of control. I was a busy mom with three small children, attempting to balance the juggling act of family, work, and all related activities. My days were feeling like a check list of things to do. Many days I was operating on autopilot, not really experiencing life. I had an overwhelming feeling of sadness. I felt as though I had accomplished all of the things that equated to “success” or “happiness,” but found myself asking: why did I feel so numb to it all?
Then, I came across a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn titled “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness.” Kabat-Zinn developed the first mindfulness program (MBSR) to be formally used in healthcare. I found myself intrigued and inspired.
I began to practice. I started by taking a few breaths to center myself, sitting in stillness and simply paying attention to what was actually happening in the moment. Observing without getting caught up in the commentary of my thinking mind. I realized how much my monkey mind – replaying the same thoughts (and often not positive ones) over and over in my mind – was making me disjointed and overwhelmed.
Mindfulness practice allowed me to let go of all the excess baggage by paying attention and making conscience choices as to what I let into my life and what I let go. Through continued practice, I’ve discovered tools to help me manage my stress, to increase my focus, to shed the layers of “should haves” and practice self-care. Through mindfulness I found my way back to myself, so I could then show up for everyone else in my life with authenticity and compassion. Through mindfulness I am now able to approach my days with open curiosity, which in turn presents days full of endless possibilities and many more joyful moments.
Now my babies are grown, but life is still full of challenges, it is part of the human condition. I continue to practice mindfulness and my journey has taught me that it is something that I can come back to over and over again. In fact, as our world becomes so “busy” and technology such an integral part of our life-and our attention, mindfulness can lead us back to the quietness within the spinning of our minds.
Mary Streeter, RRA, RT (R)(CT) , MS in Health Sciences, BS in Professional Studies with Integrative Medicine concentration, has more than 30 years of experience in the healthcare field and is currently an APP (mid-level provider) for the department of Radiology and the Director of Education for Imaging the World, a global health organization. Streeter has done additional studies in yoga, mindful meditation, healing touch and guided imagery as a pathway to health and healing.