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Gillian Sanger

What led you to mindfulness?

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Mindfulness is not something that most of us are raised with. Quite often in our modern culture, we stumble upon it out of curiosity, a deep yearning, or difficult times that require us to explore, expand, and evolve.

So I'm curious about what led each of us to mindfulness. Was there a particular event, moment, introduction, or other experience that led you into mindful self-exploration?

For myself, it was years of melancholy (and waves of depression and anxiety) paired with dissatisfaction in the career path I'd chosen. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life exactly, but I knew I couldn't keep going down the path I was on. I've always been a deep thinker, which propelled my inquiry. Still, I was unsure of where to start so I went to a bookstore near my workplace at the time and headed to the 'wellness/spirituality' section. I pulled out Jon Kabat-Zinn's 'Wherever You Go, There You Are', and though I had never heard of him or this book before, something in me told me that this was the place to begin.

Reading that book was like a mindfulness 'ON' switch. I honestly had never heard of the term before but it made so much sense to me as I flipped through those pages. I couldn't go back after that - something in me was ignited.

 

How about for you? What brought each of you into this work/personal exploration?

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I was always a dreamer.  I loved to watch the rain and listen to it from age 11 to present.  I began using nature sounds to sleep when I had my first child.  I have always loved movement and exercise.  I became sick with migraines and could not deal with post/natal environment, bringing in depression.    Nature has always calmed me.  I probably was meditating and didn't know it.  Seriously I began after my first child was born at 1985.  My autistic some cried at most every sound.  Music and nature I could manage with him.  The stress of working full time, (collections, mental health worker, telemarketing, store managing) marriage, and his personality drew me more and more to being mindful.   I could never choose one "that's it, that's what I'll do" moment for jobs.  I loved all of them.  Because they had to do with people.   Meditation became a mainstay from then on.  I have never has a scheduled meditation time.  I would do it whenever I was free, which was rare.  At night to sleep.  Now the kids are gone, stress is down, time I have, and I am using it to help others understand their own space, self, needs for meditation in self healing. 

My practice of Chinese Medicine is mainly of meditating on movement, breathing, and thinking.  Mindfulness is needed to have success in tasks.  I work hard with this because of medical not being able to work a regular job.    

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I came across mindfulness after experiencing mental health difficulties; more positively would be to say mental health opportunities! I mediate daily; and try to bring mindfulness into all my activities. The formal meditation gives you a good grounding, it’s the mindfulness in daily activities that builds up the awareness and sense of space in the mind. I’ve been listening to a Eckhart Tolle for a number of years and can’t recommend him enough.  

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I believe my first introduction to mindfulness came about through the the work of Louise Hay, when my daughter bought me her book after getting a diagnosis of MS. I very very slowly started bringing more awareness to my thoughts and self talk. What an eye opener that was for me. Again slowly I followed more teachings and opened my mind to self care, self love and incorporating mindfulness into my every day life. it is a life changer!      

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My entry point into the world of Mindfulness came about several years ago when my employer arranged for the entire management staff to attend a three day work shop facilitated by Nicholas Janni who is a very gifted Mindfulness and Leadership coach (I encourage you to Google him).  I have to admit that I really did not want to go but I am so glad that I did.  I went into the experience with a less than ideal attitude and a lot of baggage.  I came out of it completely refreshed and inspired.  I immediately adopted both formal and informal daily practices, read many books on the subject and started attending online and in person classes.  It was the life changing impact that it had on me that motivated me to become a teacher and coach so that I could share Mindfulness with others.  Thanks to Sean's class, I feel like I have touched lives and opened the door for many people to experience the journey for themselves.

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Thank you all for sharing!! 

@David - Thanks for the reminder of Eckhart Tolle. Shortly after I started with Jon Kabat-Zinn's book, my dad gave me one of Tolle's books. At the time, I wasn't ready for it... but I would love to get back to it (it was 'The Power of Now'). I've watched quite a few of his YouTube videos and really resonate. Have you watched/read anything by Rupert Spira? I resonate quite strongly with his teachings.

@Paige PIlege - I can certainly relate with your feeling of being a dreamer!! That certainly helps to open the doorway into mindful living.

@Angela - It's wonderful to hear you connected through Louise Hay's work! Watching our self-talk is so so important. It slips by so sheepishly... until we catch it 🙂

And @Steve - I love your honesty! There are so many times we experience resistance to new teachings and ways of being. But it sounds like that was a perfect entryway into it - three days of being immersed in it. I haven't heard of Nicholas Janni but will look him up.

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I came across mindfulness after experiencing mental health difficulties; more positively would be to say mental health opportunities! I mediate daily; and try to bring mindfulness into all my activities. The formal meditation gives you a good grounding, it’s the mindfulness in daily activities that builds up the awareness and sense of space in the mind. I’ve been listening to a Eckhart Tolle for a number of years and can’t recommend him enough.  

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I haven’t read anything from Rupert Spira but will take a look. Eckhart Tolle has a very good website and he has material on Audible which you can download, some of these are the retreats he’s done around the world. One of the best is the Findhorn Retreat.

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21 hours ago, David said:

I haven’t read anything from Rupert Spira but will take a look. Eckhart Tolle has a very good website and he has material on Audible which you can download, some of these are the retreats he’s done around the world. One of the best is the Findhorn Retreat.

That's great! I will have a look into it 🙂

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On 2/8/2020 at 3:46 PM, David said:

I’ve been listening to a Eckhart Tolle for a number of years and can’t recommend him enough.  

Hello @David,

My journey to a mindfulness practice also began when I read Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now" several years ago. At the time, I picked up his book because I was struggling with a lot of stressful life events and I knew that I just did not feel grounded.  Reading his book introduced me to experiencing awareness that was not connected to "thinking". I started to realize how much of my life was caught up in my streaming of thoughts and believing the stories I had in my head.  

 

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I would have to say I came to mindfulness accidentally and indirectly. Ever since I was small, I felt connected to the natural world and disconnected from people. The way they tried to push their expectations and demands on me while showing no interest in what I wanted (or might need, for those who like that perspective) hurt, but I was helpless to do anything about it except try to avoid them--an impossible strategy. I winced at their judgments of me, be they good or bad, because they always meant meeting their expectations as a condition of any attention or approval. I became hostile, angry, and defiant. Some of those characteristics actually could be channelled usefully into lawyering.

I simply got to the point several years ago where I realized however much I could justify my alienation, I was off on a tangent...I was really missing something. I read Marc Ian Barasch's book Field Notes on the Compassionate Life that started an interest in Buddhism. I was seeking a sense of wholeness, interconnectedness, and meaning at a level below posturing and positions, which by no means are confined to the legal arena. Through Barasch's book I realized wholeness and connection were possible and I started exploring Buddhism. No real interest in mindfulness developed in me for several years after that. Trying to familiarize myself with Buddhist worldview and various Buddhist traditions' differing worldviews came first. The whole idea that peace, caring, and serenity were possible seemed real and accessible! I studied and meditated. It was only after I was able to achieve levels of peace and serenity that I came to understand that mindfulness or presence was necessary to see and be with things as they are (not as they truly are because we have no way of knowing), unshackled by craving and delusion, which in turn could lead to greater peace. So, I became an accidental devotee of mindfulness. It all reminds me of a Greatful Dead lyric, "What a long strange trip it's been."

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Thank you for sharing @Gene Williams and @David Weiskopf!

Gene - It is interesting you mention 'The Power of Now' because that was a book I started reading many, many years ago that created in me the opposite reaction it had for you - it pushed me away! I remember feeling offended by something and not wanting to go further. 😄

It would be interesting to read it now after all these years and new perspectives and insights having developed.

 

And David, your description of childhood reflects how so many of us were raised - unable to be, explore, and express ourselves in ways that were 'accepted' by parents and/or society. Being a 'good girl' or 'good boy' tends to take precedent over authentic self-exploration and expression - until or unless the parents and society become mindful of these tendencies. Thank you for sharing this!

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