Have you been hearing about mindfulness? Curious to know more about what it is and how you might apply it professionally? If so, I can relate. I was in your shoes 23 years ago when Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli began offering trainings in mindfulness to healthcare professionals through the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. The Director of the hospital-based wellness center where I managed health promotion programs saw it as a new revenue opportunity, and I was invited to attend. Always open to exploring new possibilities, I was eager to participate. However, I was completely unprepared for the level of personal transformation. That training planted the seeds for a whole new way of “seeing” and “being” in the world. It also laid the foundation for all of my current ways of working. My career shifted in a completely new direction.
When Kabat-Zinn autographed my copy of Full Catastrophe Living, he wrote “…may your mindfulness practice continue to grow and flower and nourish your life and work from moment to moment and from day to day.” It has truly been a gift to experience the deepening of practice over the years and also witness how mindfulness has grown and spread throughout the world in all kinds of settings. While mindfulness offers a wonderful way to stay connected to what matters most to us, it has also helped many people who are suffering or wishing to enhance their lives in some way.
Now people are being hired to deliver mindfulness-based interventions in person, telephonically, “live” online, and through pre-recorded programs and apps. Patients, teachers, students, athletes, coaches, therapists, customers, business leaders, employees, actors, writers, artists, spiritual leaders and more are benefiting. As more people experience the practice and understand it’s potential, application continues to spread. Decades of research help to validate the value of this practice and continue to make funding available for further exploration.
The “inside-out” approach of mindfulness may feel radically different. Slowing down and paying attention to our own experience as a way of learning more about ourselves and making wise choices on our behalf is not exactly a cultural norm. Those brave enough to run the experiment, though, are often richly rewarded with the deep sense of relief that can come from unplugging from everything from our digital devices to deeply rooted beliefs about who we should be and how we should be in the world. There is a possibility of creating spaciousness and opening up new vistas in ways we may not previous have imagined.
If you are ready for exploration of mindfulness practice (either as a beginner or wishing to deepen), and are curious about how you might bring it to your paid/unpaid work in the world (or see clearly in the moment how that could happen), join us for Duke Integrative Medicine’s Mindfulness Training for Professionals this fall. This 4-day training teaches foundational mindfulness practices which can be creatively organized and offered in a variety of settings. Remember: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” (often attributed to Lao Tzu). Who knows where this next step might lead you?