From Whirling to Mindfulness
At the time, I didn’t know that I would chase the lonely ache of whirling for years to come, rarely stopping to be present in my life at all.
I whirled my way through high school using alcohol and drugs, glowering furiously at my irritable and vulnerable widowed mother. But when she started Transcendental Meditation, she transformed. She became relaxed and easy-going as she sat in meditation, twice a day, chanting her mantra.
Filled with adolescent scorn, despite the visible change in my mother, I continued to pursue the whirling dervish for twenty more years. Then I had what my spiritual teacher today calls a “spiritual breakthrough” (although in my darker moments I still see it as an old fashioned breakdown.)
Spiritual teachings, meditation and mindfulness came in to my life years ago now, soothing the whirling black hole that was eating my soul. My yearning for peace led me to study widely: Buddhism, Hinduism, AA and yoga, through books, workshops and practices in Canada, the States, and—following a life long dream—India. I became a yoga teacher, finished my Masters in Transformative Learning and began to study Life Coaching and Mindfulness.
Although popularized now in mainstream media, mindfulness and meditation were initially viewed with skepticism in the 1970s when key people like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg and many others were bringing these ideas from the east to the west. Now, there is world-wide acceptance as research shows us that mindfulness and meditation practices reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety and increase calmness, relaxation and happiness.
I don’t like to spin and whirl much any more, although I can still slide into the swirling insanity that dominates our culture if I’m not mindful. Today, I have created practices to ground and support me, like yoga most days, sitting daily in meditation by myself and often with others and eating one meal a day mindfully.
I’m mostly happy and joyous, and when I slide into old feelings, I usually remember that I have a choice. Just for today, I mindfully choose this moment and I reach across space and time to you, as you read this, in your present moment. Awaken, tenderly, in just this moment.