Breaking Through the Trance
Mindfulness has been described by Jon Kabat-Zinn (creator of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction program) as the "awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally." It has been suggested that training oneself to be more mindful can decrease anxiety, depression, and a plethora of other mental health disturbances. For a great overview of the research on mindfulness training improving mental health, see the article from Hoffman, Sawyer, Witt, and Oh (2010) in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology called The Effect of Mindfulness on Anxiety and Depression: A Meta-Analytic Review.
Just as being mindful is described as having a connection to the mind and the body, the state of being in TRANCE is described as a disconnection for the body and its experiences. When we spend our time absorbed in our phones, checking out all types of social media, listening to podcasts, mindlessly watching television, etc. we are escaping from reality and living in a state of trance. Over time, being in a state of trance and escape can lead to the loss of identity. When this happens, we become machine-like in that we’re unable to connect to others or our natural environment. This is the opposite of being mindful and ends up with us rushing around from task to task and unable to enjoy the people around us or the amazing life experiences we face each day.
This makes me think of a quote I once read of a mother who had a young daughter with a terminal illness. Once they received the terminal diagnosis, the mother decided to devote all her energy to connecting with her daughter for all the time they had left together. When the mother was asked how she spent her time connecting with her daughter, she said “I just try to enjoy every single moment we spend together. I have no time to rush.” This should be a reminder to all of us that if we live in a state of trance and rush around from task to task, we will be left at the end with no appreciation for what happened.
One great tool to break through the trance is EXERCISE. Effective exercise requires a great deal of focus on the present moment. Doing a heavy squat or a snatching movement with weights flying over our heads requires focus on every single rep of every single set. When we lose focus we often fail and occasionally hurt ourselves. Exercise also requires us to have a connection to our body. When we’re doing a tough workout we’re often feeling pains in muscles that we had no idea they even existed. Sometimes we’re doing new movements that we haven’t done before. When these things happen, we’re developing a deeper connection with our bodies. When the mind and the body are in the same place at the same time that’s called true (or sacred) presence. This is when we’re most able to enjoy all the beauty that is within and surrounding us. NAMASTE