Online introduction to MBSR with Steve Flowers

Thanks to UCSD Center for Mindfulness and Mindful Coaching for the link.

Opening to Life – Book Review of Leaves Falling Gently by Susan Bauer-Wu

Leaves Falling Gently -Living fully with serious & life-limiting illness through mindfulness, compassion, & connectedness by Susan Bauer-Wu is a kind and inviting little book that makes facing our chronic or acute life-threatening illness easier to face.  Bauer-Wu, an associate professor of nursing at Emory University, researches the effects of chronic stress from debilitating illness and studies the usefulness of mindfulness practices in alleviating the suffering caused by chronic and life-threatening illness.

The book opens with a clear and concise definition of mindfulness.  It is “our capacity to intentionally bring awareness to present-moment experience with an attitude of openness and curiosity.”  It is “a way of being and relating to ourselves, our circumstances, one another, and the world around us.”  With helpful and easy-to-do exercises, she instructs initial practices to stop, attend, and shift our stance to what is happening in this moment.

Chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and other auto-immune diseases result in significant difficulties with sustaining attention, retaining information, and activating intentions to practice.  The chapters in this book are written in a way that makes it possible to take in the information in bite-size pieces.  The practices are laid out in a way that allows for the reader’s potentially fluctuating level of energy and engagement.  The chapter on “Unhelpful thoughts” was extremely useful in setting out the ways in which our mind plays tricks on us, leading us down unproductive paths and spiraling negative mood states.

Bauer-Wu digs deep into the practice of noticing and accepting change.  As much as chronic illness can strike fear in our hearts, life-threatening illnesses can create a whirling storm of anxiety and emotional debilitation.  She doesn’t shy away from the reality that diseases progress and, in seeing our life as foreshortened, dreams break apart and hardships occur.  The practices on compassion include the practice of generosity which opens the door to deep self-care.  And, as we dissolve our resistance to receiving compassion and generosity from others, we begin to experience a wonderful connection with the world and the life we have.

As someone who practices with the ebb and flow of fibromyalgia, I found the book personally relevant, reminding me of the various practices.  More important, Bauer-Wu shines a new light, brings a new perspective to these practices; her approach allows me to see them in a different configuration which opens to curiosity and gratitude for the gift.

You can order the book here.

A YouTube video from Emory University is here.

An interview with Jon Kabat-Zinn 2006

“What if you are already complete? What if it doesn’t get any better than this? […] What if it were possible to hold the whole of it in awareness and allow it to be just as it already is. That would be an incredibly radical act and it would be an act of profound wisdom […] But actually investigate the way things actually are, and you might find that inside of the sadness, the grief, the despair lies something else too — lies some kind of beauty, some kind of humanity, some kind of human understanding, that understands that things are impermanent, that nothing stays the same, that there is loss, that it is not possible to control the whole universe, that even in terms of our body, this is something that is to a large extent a mystery — but it’s not all ugly, it’s not all black. Even in the midst of utter darkness, there’s this other element of beauty, of symmetry, of the natural world.”


Jon Kabat-Zinn

With thanks to sharanam for re-posting this.

The inner doctor

To practise mindfulness is to engage in our lives with responsibility and with a sense that only we can make the changes necessary.  True, there are external relationships we have with various health care providers that may be significant to our well-being.  We give these relationships a level of authority over the trajectory of recovery.  It is also important, if not more important, that we give our inner healer the same power over our well-being.  In a sense, being in wellness requires that we acquire professional-level skills to be who we already are: beings whose natural stretch is towards wellness.

The following video and its companions in the Legacy of Wisdom series are instructive and revealing about the practice of becoming our own Inner Doctor.  Please enjoy them and enter this new year with a resolve to become truly professional about living deeply.