In his book, Wherever You Go, There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn (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) shares his insights into the practice of meditation as a means to reduce stress. Discussing the different philosophies behind meditation and different techniques for practice, Kabat-Zinn focuses on the principles of practicing mindfulness- a state of active, open attention on the present.  He also describes different meditation techniques, including two visualization techniques, The Mountain Meditation and The Lake Meditation, and gives further insights into mindfulness, including the concept of karma.

According to Kabat-Zinn, being mindful focuses on three aspects; being honest with yourself, being non-judgmental and living fully present in each moment, not basing your thoughts on the past or future.  Kabat-Zinn explains that mindfulness requires honesty with ourselves, and believes that to be mindful, an individual must be honest about what is occurring to them- both on the inside and externally, mentally and physically, at that precise moment in time. 

As humans, we come up with different ways to lie to ourselves, whether to justify our anger, cushion our emotions or make ourselves feel better about a hurtful experience or situation.   Sometimes the lies that we tell ourselves help to shape our self-identity.  According to Kabat-Zinn, the lies or statements we tell ourselves are judgments about ourselves, which he feels get in the way of being mindful and honest.  For example, if our feelings are hurt because of someone’s actions, by being mindful and looking honestly at our hurt feelings, we can see that our hurt feelings don’t stem from this one person’s actions, and that the feelings are not caused by external factors, but occur within us.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the best way to achieve mindfulness is through meditation- specifically through the two visual meditation techniques, the Mountain Meditation and the Lake Meditation.  Through these meditations can focus on these two things: honesty and being fully present in the moment.   Below you will find instructions for the Mountain Meditation.

The Mountain Meditation

Adapted from Skillful Means Wiki 

The purpose of the mountain meditation is to become grounded and access our inner strength and stability when faced with stressful and challenging circumstances, both internal and external.

METHOD:

  • Sit down in a comfortable position on the floor or in a chair.
  • After following your breath for a few moments, imagine- in vivid detail- the most beautiful mountain you know of and resonate with.  Envision its various details and stable, unmoving presence grounded in the earth.
  • After a few minutes of developing and holding this clear image in your mind, imagine bringing the mountain inside yourself and becoming the mountain
  • Imagine yourself sitting in stillness and in calm, simply observing and resting unwavering as the various weather patterns, storms, and seasons pass before you.
  • Just as a mountain endures constant changes and extremes, we also experience various thoughts, emotions and life challenges.  Imagine viewing these experiences as external, fleeting and impersonal events, akin to weather patterns.
  • Feel yourself unwavering and rooted in stillness amidst the constant change of your internal and external experience.
  • This meditation is designed to last about 20 minutes but can be shortened or extended based on the practitioner’s preference.

Jon Kabat-Zinn teaches us that Mindfulness is being awake, in touch with, and curious -but not judgmental- about your daily existence. Meditation techniques, like the Mountain Meditation and The Lake Meditation, can help an individual to apply mindfulness to the daily life, which can bring about positive change in reactions, emotion and behavior, leading to a more satisfying and fuller life.

For more information on mindfulness, meditation, and Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book “Wherever You Go, There You Are”, click here.

About the Author

Marilyn Mitchell M.D.

Marilyn Mitchell, M.D., works in integrative medicine.

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