Via Basel: Passions, Part 2: Mindfulness/Meditation
It was my most unforgettable dance as I waltzed with my daughter Mandy on her wedding night just short of 4 years ago to the music of Hal David and Burt Bacharach’s “What the World Needs Now is Love” as sung by Jackie DeShannon. As relevant as the theme of the title was in 1965, I postulate that today the need is even more critical. However, I will now add my own twist to that beautiful lyric even though it may not rhyme; and that is Mindfulness which basically means “moment-to-moment awareness.” You can expand on this definition on your own. My main purpose here is to note the implications of its presence or rather lack thereof in the everyday fabric of our social lives.
In just the last few decades our lives have been moving on an ever faster track with more changes and distractions than ever before. Due to many varied factors, mostly technology and gadgetry, this trend is irreversible, and can lead us into chaos and confusion. To achieve and hold on to any virtue, like “love,” or master any skill, be it physical or mental, the most elemental ingredient is mindfulness. You can accumulate facts or data, you may even gain knowledge by making sense of them, but to get to apply that wisely to one’s life (Wisdom) mindfulness and meditation are essential. By any calculation most of us today lack the ability, time, and discipline to enhance our mindfulness skills.
In general I try to practice what I believe in, so many years ago I started meditating on a daily basis and supplemented it with short retreats every so often. It helped me in my personal and professional life mainly by stress reduction. As I told you in one of my previous posts last year I was winding down my practice getting ready to retire and reducing my stresses even further, when I was approached by a colleague of mine. He knew about my interest in the subject along with some personal experience. He asked me to give classes on mindfulness to day patients at the Behavioral Health Center in our hospital. In all my retirement planning this was not on my agenda. The more I tried to respectfully decline the more he insisted. My reasons were several but mainly I did not consider myself an expert on the subject as well as trying to avoid new commitments. Finally I relented and took the challenge. Thus the start of my second vocation after 40 plus years of Orthopedic Surgery. In addition to helping my students it has strengthened and deepened my own practice. Lately a few other opportunities have surfaced to expand to other audiences. The journey continues.
Without exaggeration I can categorically declare that there is no aspect of life and living that cannot be improved with mindfulness. It is also an acquired skill that demands work and discipline, but the reward is more than worth it. Our health of body, mind, and soul depend on it.
That is why, in me, it has been catapulted into a passion to teach and spread to any receptive soul.
Peace and love to all. And this post is dedicated to the victims and courageous survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Basel Al-Aswad, father of EIL founder Christopher Al-Aswad, is a yogi trapped in an Orthopedic Surgeon’s body. His loves in life include reading, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family, and now, retired, he will have more time for that. And for the next adventure.