Mindfulness Doc

Michele is a practicing psychologist who extends to herself & others the 
same level of presence she gives to clients-- exploring the positive changes that are internalized through a daily practice. 

This blog offers resources, reflections, & her work with Salzburg's 28 day mindfulness challenge to realize true "Happiness".

Doc M has enjoyed studying with Dan Siegel, M.D., Chris Germer, Ph.D., Trudy Goodman, Jack Kornfield, & Tara Brach. Sustained silence is her best teacher each August during month-long retreats and hermitage in the wilderness of northern New Mexico. In 2013 Kornfield encouraged her to start a sitting group in her community. In 2019 she was certified by Jack & Tara Brach through UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center.  
Day One of 28- Day Challenge. Staying on the Cushion: 7 Minutes, 7 Hours, or 7 weeks? 

In comparison to east coast folks (who may now be starting the second day of their 28-day mindfulness challenge), for me at 11:15 pm in southern California on February 1, 2013, it is still day one of what I refer to as the official "Salzberg Challenge". 

I sat for 7 minutes this morning before leaving for the office. That's right, seven minutes. But, at the office I managed to comfortably sit for eight hours compassionately listening to my clients. My hope in making this 28-day commitment is to extend to myself what I so readily give to others. Compassionate presence to oneself through the simple act of sitting in silence and breathing. I want to be open to exploring where this exercise takes me. 

Guess I have a way to go in staying on the cushion. Yep, day one here, and I got bucked off way too soon. Metta to all who are joining with me in this online experience. And a big thanks to Sharon for her inspiring talk last Sunday in Santa Monica. Sharon, once I walked with you; now, I will sit with you. And, through this blog I'll invite others to join us. 
2. Resistance. Winter Night, Heaven's Rain

Ah yes the resistance to change sets in. How is it that an entire day of chores crashes head long into my well-intentioned plans to pull off a decent morning sit?


I slowly wake up; arrange my mat and cushion in their place by the hearth, while my coffee is brewing, getting ready to meditate. It’s a cloudy Saturday morning. Perfect. I sit in my special spot on the couch. Sip my coffee all tucked in under the comfort of my grandmother’s quilt. I ease into waking up, because I can. The house is all mine. No one here. I’m blissfully alone. No intrusive noise. So quiet for an urban neighborhood. The silence is palpable. Perfect for a morning meditation.


I can see my meditation cushion waiting. So close, and yet so far away. It’s just so darn sweet right here. I decide to stay in this warm spot to begin my meditation session. I breathe, in and out. follow my breath. Yeah, this should work. And then the first item on my weekend “to do list” takes captive my prefrontal cortex. I followed the distraction. Executive functioning sunk. Gave right in to that resistance. Now, I’ve lost my window of opportunity.


Over 12 hours later, I try again. I sit. I follow my breath. In. Out. Ahhh, yes, starting to drop in now. But of course, sleepiness shows up as my new companion. Why not? And, I remember when Jack Kornfield referred to sleepiness as the lazy man’s way to enlightenment. It’s so familiar…this unique distraction to use the words from his teaching, "sloth", "torpor". I note again and again the point that my head begins to slowly drop backward, chin turning up, almost snoring. But, I’m easy with myself about this. It’s downright laughable. The honesty of fatigue at the end of a long day of chores & writing.


I note that sweet spot where I gently return to my breath after realizing that I’m about to drop into sleep. I pull this off by moving my head to rest upright again at the base of my spine. Alert now, awake again for a few more minutes until my head falls back to that place, almost snoring, chin up in the air, mouth falling open. It’s like a rhythmic dance of my head, choreographed by my somnambulant mind, backward and forward, left side to right. Again and again, I close my gaping mouth, lower my chin, laughing now at my humanity. Sleepy, Dopey, Pokey, Gumby. Maybe I’ll name each fall back toward sleep after one of the Seven Dwarfs.


Thinking mind reminds me that I’ll sleep well tonight. Now, back again to follow my breath. Finally, I drop in for quite some time. I guess it’s a decent bit of time, can’t know for sure, because now I’m in that timeless place that isn’t really a place -- the deep rest, peacefulness of this present moment. Then I hear it, barely audible, a soft rain falling on the roof, the tin cover of my chimney stack. I am here, now, breathing in a winter’s night, the rain of heaven. 

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