Side note from Peter Buck: [ This description of iRest assumes that many people have experienced a calm and resilient mind while doing activities they love to do. If you have not yet had this calm-mind experience in your life… Then you are like me. -- A number of years ago, I would have said that I never had experienced such a thing, even while doing things I liked to do. Therefore, I am offering the iRest Program and the Sustainable High-Performance program because they are a huge part of my coming to experience touching into that calm-and-resilient-mind now, every day. ]
We are already familiar with all the experiences iRest helps us access for healing. We are not learning something essentially new, we are just hanging out with common experiences the survival brain thinks we have no time for. As a matter of fact, appreciating these experiences is exactly what calms the survival brain, and tells it we are okay.
What is the iRest Program, with its meditations & Techniques, designed to accomplish?
Dr. Miller likes to use terms like meditative self-inquiry, investigating the nature of reality, and who we take ourselves to be… Below, is my homey translation that I believe is both accurate and inviting.
The 10 Steps/Tools and other techniques of iRest are designed for systematically attending to important things that, although they are with us every moment, our everyday mind ignores… For example: the sense of being, the fact of awareness, being present here and now.
These meditations and techniques also access the calm and clear mind many people experience during activities that truly bring them life… For example: being in nature, walking your dog at sunset, fishing, gardening, driving along the Parkway, listening to music, taking a good shower, being listened to by a good friend, playing sports, kayaking, dancing etc.
These life-giving activities can be truly life-giving. Maybe they are not just “coping mechanisms”… For example: Sometimes, while doing these things, as people relax and become simply present to what they are doing… a helpful thought about how to do something or talk to someone just bubbles up. A fresh thought arises helping them to handle a situation that was challenging.
It turns out that there are shifts of attention and focus that facilitate coming to that calm, clear, and resilient mind… shifts that are common to such activities – and that iRest taps into.
Having our attention shift from a constant stream of worries and thoughts… to what is actually going on in the present, here, now. (iRest does this through attention to being and awareness, etc.)
Finding our awareness shift from our unceasing thoughts…to sensations both on the surface of our body and within it. (iRest does this through body sensing.)
Letting our attention shift from a narrow focus often associated with getting things done, to a wide open awareness in which we resonate with what is around us, and even feel h ourselves to be part of it all. (Dr. Miller calls this spectrum our Focusing and Defocusing Network and urges us to do it throughout the day.)
A shift in breathing from tensed… to released and open. E.g. spontaneously letting out a big sigh as we see and awesome purple and rose sunset… and, with that sigh, realizing that, just a moment before, our breathing had some tension in it… and now it’s released. (IRest opens this up through Breath Sensing.)
While we associate such experiences with being out in nature or doing other things we enjoy... At the start iRest makes these shifts available to us through meditations we can do just before we go to sleep. And gradually iRest makes these shifts available as we are struggling with distressing feelings, and painful thoughts & memories. Eventually iRest enables us to have these shifts throughout each day.
Who knew that the body felt sense, open attention and calm mind you experience while feeling a light summer breeze on your arm, seeing your favorite flower as it first blooms in Spring, kayaking down the Chattooga… were just outstanding examples of something available to us throughout each day. Available at work, doing tasks at home, being with family… available throughout each day. Is it possible?
To recap... Our everyday mind, especially when it is driven by anxiety, is good at ignoring or minimizing the experiences noted above.
Our everyday mind believes our favorite activities are just short vacations from reality and its challenges. And yet, the results that come from practicing iRest suggest our favorite activities are actually doorways into the kind of peace that the anxiety-driven mind longs for. iRest opens us up to a calm and clear mind that is connected life. And when we are connected life in this natural way, we start find that we can be productive, and perform any of our responsibilities with a whole heart and ready intelligence – without needing anxiety and worry to constantly prod it. It might just be possible.
iRest is designed reach out and touch these experiences daily, and to help us realize that these streams of life are already ours… and they can and will help us meet and greet each moment of our life with a sense of peace and balance, no matter what challenges we face.