I WAS IMPRESSED when I first heard that mindfulness plays a vital aspect of The Warrior Connection retreats. I was first introduced to mindfulness in my 20s during a year-long recovery from a traumatic head injury. I found meditation so helpful that when I discovered there was a counseling program exploring the intersection of meditation and mental health care, I applied! Since 30 years ago, meditation has played an essential role in my journey.
But why mindfulness, and why at Warrior Connections retreats?
Pain arising from trauma, depression, and anxiety comes from our minds reliving something from the past or anxious about something in the future. When this happens, we are being knocked back and forth from the past to the future. In this state, we cannot rest in the present moment. It keeps our minds off balance. Without that balance, we continue to flail around. We are constantly knocked about by events from our past or anxieties about the future, and when we’re off balance, we cannot connect to ourselves, much less to those around us.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness develops the present moment “muscle.” It’s hard: our society is noisy, news feeds alarm us, busy schedules keep us going, and phones distract us. That present moment “muscle” doesn’t get exercised very often, so practicing mindfulness seems complicated, challenging to work into our schedule, and easy to forget.
But when we exercise that muscle, it doesn’t take long to begin to impact our everyday lives. We find that we can be more present with ourselves. Those intense feelings and memories resulting from the trauma still come up, but we find we have a way to hold them, and they no longer have the ability to hold us, almost keeping us hostage. As a friend of mine once said, “mindfulness helps me get saner, sooner.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn, who introduced mindfulness to Westerners through his groundbreaking Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, defines mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
Mindfulness Means Finding Connection
When we can hold these painful memories and the feelings that arise from them and pay attention to them, on purpose, without judgment, we find the connection. Connection with ourselves first and foremost, and that connection with ourselves naturally leads to connecting with others – with our family, co-workers, and friends.
The Warrior Connection logo is a compass. And that center point where North, South, East, and West meet? That’s our mind: centered, calm, free to move in any direction, connected to ourselves and to our world, all at the same time.