WHITNEY CAIN, PHD

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Finding Mindfulness in an Inflatable

tubing.jpg

Mindfulness is in.  Its directive to be fully present in each moment is so in that not embracing such awareness seems tawdry – like the sound your straw makes when eking out the last of a milkshake.  Mindfulness is in for good reason, though.  It’s associated with lowering stress; decreasing risks for depression, cancer, and heart disease; increasing immunity; heightening job performance; and lessening pain perception.  Mindfulness is close to magic.

Last weekend the family needed an adventure.  I prefer seated, slow adventures, so we signed up to tube a lazy stretch of river close to home.  I thought the check-in guy’s estimate of four-to-five hours for the two-mile trip was silly, but then wondered how we would possibly finish in such short time given none of us drifted an inch after being loaded and launched.

Around hour three we realized the limitations of our snacks and sunscreen.  Just in time the entertainment arrived.   A giant flotilla of tubes carrying a bawdy bunch of women floated by.  The oldest, dubbed “Granny,” served as captain. “Junior,” the apparent youngest, played 50 Cent and Snoop Dog on her portable CD player.

Just after, my husband was walking his tube through a rocky spot.  The children were beside themselves signaling to him the better half of his ass was outside his trunks.  Alas, their message wasn’t in time for the trifecta of young men paddling by.  I hope, at least, their traumatic view served as a cautionary tale.

Then we were by ourselves again in that gorgeous river with just enough current to push us along.  The kids found one last bag of popcorn and some water.  The husband’s bottom was reinserted in the tube, so it’s coverage mattered not.  The sun felt hot and the water cool.  I wasn’t worrying or wondering.  I was right there in the moment.

The sign signaling our stop appeared, as did my mind’s return to ruminating and mulling.  Now my sunburn stings and my neck aches from craning to see those ladies on the flotilla.  But I’m confident those mindful moments when I wasn’t wanting, working or trying to conjure something did wonders for my mood, heart health, and immunity.  I know they fed my soul.

Resources & References

  • Heffernan, V. (April 14, 2015).  The muddied meaning of ‘mindfulness.’ New York Times Magazine.  Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/magazine/the-muddied-meaning-of-mindfulness.html
  • Hotzel, B.K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti S.M., Gard, T., et al. (2011).  Mindfulness practice leads to increase in regional brain gray matter density.  Psychiatry Research, 19(1), 36-43.
  • Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994).  Wherever you go, there you are.  New York, NY:  Hyperion.
  • Jared422_80.  (July 15, 2013).  Photo:  Townsend – Little River – Tubing.  Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/jared422/10172364446
  • Zeidan, F., Martucci, K.T., Kract, R.A., Gordon, N.S., McHaffie, JG., & Cogdill, R.C. (2011).  Brain mechanisms supporting the modulation of pain by mindfulness meditation. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(14), 5540-5548. 
Whitney Cain