Mindfulness and Meeting Everything
I find myself in the middle of teaching an eight week mindfulness program (MBSR) as part of an NIH study, looking at the impact of Mindfulness on parents of young children with a diagnosis of Autism. After many years of teaching a variety of populations, I have to say, this group of loving courageous and some what still in shock (from receiving this diagnosis which has turned their worlds upside down) parents are inspiring and nourishing me. It’s a project Hugh and I have been involved with for several years, doing the pilot studies that led to the NIH’s attention. The early results were very strong and showed dramatic changes in participants’ depression, anxiety, and stress levels. Now no big surprise there since we have 40 years of research showing this. In addition to the beautiful transformation going on in these parents lives, where it gets even more interesting is the children have large, measurable changes in their behavior and mood with no intervention other than treatments they were already involved in, but nothing to do with Mindfulness. Several weeks ago, one of the Mom’s shared with us, that since taking the class, as soon as her son starts a tantrum, she can now find that place inside of her, almost immediately, where her stress level begins to rise leading to a reaction that winds both of them up. Now, as soon as she feels it, she focuses on her breath, calms herself and there have been no more tantrums. None-for weeks! Another mom shared that they recently lost their home (not uncommon in this group) and all six of them are living in one room for now. She listens to the Body Scan meditation, at night with her children and husband, and now they are asking her (even her teenage daughter), “when are we going to do the meditation?” Everyone is sleeping better despite their living conditions. She says they are grateful that someone took them in and they are content. I don’t know where all of this will lead in their lives. But I do feel in my heart that anything is possible.