Got Mindfulness? | Mind | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
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Got Mindfulness? 

It can be your ally on this journey called life.

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For homework, we are to practice mindfulness with something simple: getting dressed, taking a shower, eating ("Not every time you eat," jokes Shaw, "or people will think you're crazy"). Speer, too, counsels her students to have a daily practice. "It could be a walking meditation; it could be your cup of tea," says Speer. "I have one client who uses her swimming routine—feeling the water, noticing the aroma. What we're doing is cultivating what I call our mindfulness muscle. Then it leaps over into our personal lives and we're able to, for instance, be more responsive to our children and less reactive."

Connecting to What's Real

Just as most MBSR courses begin with the raisin meditation, many end with exercises that focus attention on relationships. "We learn to be present for the person who is in front of us," says Speer. "Oftentimes we pay the least attention to the people who are most familiar to us in our personal life. We have a lot of past experiences and assumptions, so we're not really being present with them." One student, recalls Speer, came to her MBSR class because he'd had a heart attack and was looking to reduce stress. An unexpected benefit for him was an enriched relationship with his wife when finally, in their golden years, he learned to be fully present with her.

"We often don't see ourselves, or our spouses and the people we're close to, because we're caught up in our thinking," says Shaw. "We don't see the world because we're caught up in our ideas of the world. Mindfulness lets us get real. We don't need special experiences and places to wake up—we can do it through a raisin, or petting our dog, or washing the dishes. We're not going to live on a mountain meditating. We need to really use it to live our lives."


Ernest Shaw, MD (845) 331-1155

Stephanie Speer, MA

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