Transformative practices are skills designed to center, quiet, still and open the mind-body-heart and focus attention and awareness in the present moment. The effect of transformative practices is well documented in supporting a person’s transformation from experiencing unease, disease, illness, high stress, pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and dysfunction to enhancing ease, relaxation, health, and well-being. A term often used to describe these activities is mindfulness practice which also encourages open receptivity, accepting and observing without evaluation or judgment.
Kabat-Zinn warned us however that attempts at mindfulness-based interventions run the risk of becoming caricatures of mindfulness, missing the radical, transformative essence.
What Do Transformative Practices Cultivate?
Transformative practices cultivate conditions to move not only from dysfunction to optimal functioning of health and well-being but continue to launch us to present-moment awareness and open-hearted wakefulness, increasing our capacity for knowing and accessing more subtle awareness. By continuing long-term transformative practices, one experiences unity consciousness and develops a sense of harmony with all that is.
So what are examples of these supporting practices? Transformative practices include but are not limited to:
Transformative practices include but are not limited to:
- Deep breathing: Different patterns for various relaxation effects
- Meditation: mindfulness, concentrative, moving
- Music: listening, chant, singing
- Being in quiet
- Smell: aromatherapy
- Mindful eating: intentionally eating a meal in silence, one bite at a time
- Vision: screen savers, wall colors, art and photographs, what you wear, how you decorate your spaces
- Move your body: exercise, yoga, qi gong, tai chi, stretch, walk a labyrinth, dance
- Guided Imagery: autogenesis, progressive relaxation, remembering with all your senses a relaxing experience
- Art: write, draw, sculpt, mandalas, collage
- Progressive relaxation
- Being in nature
- Contemplating and studying sacred text, poetry, koans, myths and symbols, metaphor, archetypes
You can actively be moving, examining, intending, or remembering while being receptive to what arises in your mind, body, and heart in each moment. Practice time can be set aside from your daily routines such as taking a mindful walk in nature or a yoga class. It is also important to practice when you first notice your stress symptoms, such as taking several deep breaths when aroused by a traffic jam or an argument with a loved one. Keep it simple, practice in various ways and follow what calls to you. Make it part of your everyday life. For instance, during a morning shower, practicing a focused meditation through using all five senses to feel the warm water on the skin, smell the soap, hear the soothing water, see the colors and light, and maybe taste a bit of the fresh water brings your attention into the present moment.
Transformative practices accelerate the natural unfolding process of human development, ever-expanding it toward revealing and living as one’s true nature. Depending on your current condition, they can have many purposes. According to Schlitz et al. they can:
. . . quiet the mind-body, heal old wounds, shed false beliefs, cultivate intention and attention, promote insight, and expand capacities. The heart of these practices is their ability to bring you into direct contact with the numinous, open your eyes and heart to the sanctity of life. They assist you in realizing the abundant, ever-present, and surprisingly accessible deep meaning that is present in every moment of every day.
Transformative practices support your ever expanding capacity to access higher levels of consciousness.
(excerpt from upcoming book: Living From the Center Within)
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