Turning emotions into meditation
A type of meditation called mindfulness meditation enables a person to become more closely attuned to how they live in the present moment; to be “fully present in each moment of your life,” according to meditation instructor Andy Lee.
Mr. Lee will give a program on the subject Tuesday, Sept. 10, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at Wilton Library. The program is free, but with more than 45 people signed up already, registration is recommended. Call 203-762-3950, ext. 213 or visit wiltonlibrary.org and click on Events.
The mindfulness meditation program Mr. Lee follows was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 80s after a trip to India.
“He was a medical student and he learned a lot about meditation in India that he thought would be helpful to others suffering from various medical conditions that were not being helped by the medical establishment,” Mr. Lee said.
Mr. Kabat-Zinn is a founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In addition to enrolling patients suffering from pain, cancer, anxiety and depression, the program certifies people like Mr. Lee as trainers in mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR).
The mindfulness aspect of meditation refers to “paying attention in a particular way in the present moment, on purpose and non-judgmentally,” Mr. Lee said. “It is being fully present in each moment of your life. Not checking out as much as you might, not going on autopilot or zoning out, and not being triggered — not reacting impulsively to stress or stressful situations.”
Meditation is the exercise that helps develop mindfulness, although it is not the only exercise that can do so.
If a person is able to stay fully in the moment they can ultimately experience less stress and act effectively.
Mr. Lee will begin the program at the library by leading a guided meditation so the audience can experience it and then talk about it.
“From their responses, I will segue into what we did and its benefits,” he said.
“That’s important. Mindfulness is popular and most people don’t understand what it is. Meditation is also misunderstood.”
Emptying the mind of thoughts is a common misconception of meditation, Mr. Lee said.
Because mindfulness meditation is about examining thoughts and emotions, it may sometimes be unpleasant.
“When the mind is quiet thoughts that come up may stress you out. It’s not always pleasant but it is very valuable. It can make your life better in the long run,” he said because it gives a person the opportunity to observe their reactions to stress triggers and become more aware of their behavior.
At the library, he will also discuss research on the effects of MBSR, including MRI results that show parts of the brain getting more oxygen and some parts shrinking, particularly the amygdala, that portion of the brain that plays a key role in processing emotions. Its size is positively correlated with aggressive behavior, according to Science Daily.
Mr. Lee’s background is in corporate human resources and talent management. “My work is split between training mindfulness in the workplace and more traditional HR consulting,” he said. “I teach MBSR in the evenings to keep me grounded in mindfulness, and because it’s very rewarding and provides a valuable service to people who can really use it.”
Mr. Lee will be teaching an eight-week class on MBSR Tuesday evenings from Sept. 24 though Nov. 12 at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Ridgefield. For information, visit mindful-spirit.com.