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What Is The Relationship Of Mindfulness To Life?

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Dig deeper into your life to gain access to a calmer, disciplined lifestyle just like the smoother currents deep in the ocean. With the incessant changes in our lives, sometimes it may seem like we are being carried in a direction without our control like a boat being tossed by rough waves. Learn to shift focus to the present, and like a rudder direct your future and your destiny.

Answer: The Ocean, the Boat and the Rudder.

Life Is Like An Ocean

An image popped into my mind the other day as I was contemplating how best to explain where mindfulness fits into our lives. The first thing I noticed in the image was the ocean. The ocean is constantly changing. Sometimes the waves are rough and sometimes the water is relatively still with plenty of possibilities in between.

As we go deeper into the ocean there is less rocky movement and the deeper currents are much smoother and generally easier to navigate. It’s easy to see the correlation to life here with so much potential for change, activity and movement. The deeper we go into the ocean the more we have access to the smoother currents. They both coexist and are part of the full experience.

Our Sense Of Being Is Like A Boat

Next I noticed the boat which represented to me our awareness/consciousness and sense of being. I noticed that the boat was being tossed about by the waves, completely influenced by the weather and the activity of the ocean. Most of us are in this situation where we are moved from one direction to the next simply because that’s where the ocean and the weather are taking us.

Most of us don’t even have an anchor to help still the activity let alone one that is deep enough to connect with the bottom. As I imagined the constant arbitrary moving about I started to actually get dizzy and feel a bit seasick. As I tried to steady myself I noticed that my boat had grown a rudder.

Our Focus Is Like The Rudder

Once I saw the rudder I realized that I could now steer the boat in any direction I wanted and could plot a course that would allow me to navigate the ocean safely. I immediately equated the rudder with my ability to focus my attention to all the motion and make choices as to how and where to navigate the boat so as to maximize my ability to navigate smoothly.

The rudder put me in a position to direct my movements rather than have the movements direct me. No longer was I at the mercy of the elements but could now use the elements to my benefit.

The more skilled I got with the rudder, the smoother my journey on the ocean became. And so it is with mindfulness where as we become more and more skillful at attending to the present moment we are able to plan and choose our own course on the ocean.

Paul Sugar
Star Expert

I am the founder and Director of the Scottsdale Institute for Health and Medicine. I completed the advanced MBSR teacher training in 1994 at the Center for Mindfulness pioneered by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and am a Certified MBSR instructor through the Center for Mindfulness at the UCSD School of Medicine. In addition, I am a Mentor for the mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) certification candidates there. I have taught over 60 Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction- 8 week MBSR and MBCT programs and have delivered hundreds of mindfulness based workshops for over 20 years .I've taught mindfulness in the health care, corporate, academic, sports and private sectors. I have been practicing and teaching meditation, yoga and tai chi for over 40 years.

Paul Sugar
Star Expert

I am the founder and Director of the Scottsdale Institute for Health and Medicine. I completed the advanced MBSR teacher training in 1994 at the Center for Mindfulness pioneered by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and am a Certified MBSR instructor through the Center for Mindfulness at the UCSD School of Medicine. In addition, I am a Mentor for the mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) certification candidates there. I have taught over 60 Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction- 8 week MBSR and MBCT programs and have delivered hundreds of mindfulness based workshops for over 20 years .I've taught mindfulness in the health care, corporate, academic, sports and private sectors. I have been practicing and teaching meditation, yoga and tai chi for over 40 years.

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