such an honor to hear Sarah Lee Guthrie & Hoping Machine sing my song at the Climate March in DC!


new CD available on band camp click on cover image below to download tracks

new CD available on band camp          click on cover image below to download tracks

Sunday, April 10, 2016

what is mindfulness, anyway?

Here's an article on what mindfulness is not. 
Beyond McMindfulness: beyond the marketplace

To be mindful in vipassana meditation in the Buddhist tradition means insight into the true nature of reality.
"Looking into something with clarity and precision, seeing each component as distinct and separate, and piercing all the way through so as to perceive the most fundamental reality of that thing"   
Bhante G
          Sharon Salzberg urges us to choose the 'peaceful wolf' through practicing mindfulness: 
According to Jon Kabat Zinn, "Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally." 
       says that the benefits are many,
       helping participants:
  • Recognise, slow down or stop automatic and habitual reactions.
  • Respond more effectively to complex or difficult situations.
  • See situations more clearly
  • Become more creative
  • Achieve more balance at work and at home 

    My first experience with mindfulness came about when I found a cassette at the Goodwill. Its title was scrawled in ink, and it came from a stress reduction clinic at U MASS led by Jon Kabat Zinn.

    I could pop this cassette into my dual CD/cassette player in the car and do a body scan, relaxing individual body parts on my way to teaching. It worked so well that I tried the straight ahead lay-yourself-down-and-relax mindfulness meditation before going to sleep that he advocated.

    I found another path to mindfulness as a Berkshire Kripalu Community (BKC) member, when I took a series of classes on yoga, mindfulness and Ayurveda.

    I loved Ayurveda's focus on the elements, and enjoyed taking time to sit down to eat and be mindful... being more in the here and now. To help me remember what I learned in the classes, I wrote a song from the notes I took and sang it for the group at 'graduation.' That acoustic version has morphed into this dance version, which reminds me to call on the elements and 'burn away what is not needed. 

                       'As I Sit Down to Eat' lyrics and download

    In my work with Community Access to the Arts, I bring songs to six healthcare settings, two of which are memory care (Alzheimer's) units. I lead movement to a variety of music: jazz, world, samba and often begin with "Hu Ray," my song that's a gratitude hokey pokey. Though everyone is sitting in wheelchairs, we move vigorously as we reach out to 'meet in the middle' and sing along with "Standing in a Circle."

    Drawing, coloring and doodling are also great pathways to mindfulness. Mindful drawing classes at Deb Koffman's studio can lead me to mindfulness on different levels.


    I'm eager to explore different creative avenues to mindfulness in a series of sessions called 'Dream, Dance and Doodle.' (see info in March 31st post below)

    How can we converse with the elements?
    How can we use our own images and songs to create more kindness towards ourselves, and others,  especially as we 'sit down to eat?'
    We'll use some of my song lyrics as writing prompts, and create our own songs.

    Songs are a gift that keeps on giving, always revealing more meaning as needed.

    At the Stockbridge Town Offices there's a spot to bring canned goods for local food banks.
    I invite everyone to bring a can or two (or three) to our classes.
    An awareness of hunger in our area and in America and beyond is part of the mindfulness practice.

    Berkshire poet Jan Hutchinson sends out poetry prompts the world over during April.
    I've kept up with a lot of them so far. Here's one for 'write a poem with three reasons..'

    three reasons to eat broccoli 

    the green buds cling so tight to the stalk
    i become president of a dark country every time I swallow

    when cut diagonally on the stalk you can see trees
    with limbs raised up in jubilation

    each florette sends a love letter addressed to me 
    from every boy or butterfly I've yet to see

    by Giovanna Spies                                                                                                                                    (I revert to my Italian name when food is concerned)

    two cans 
                    drawing and collage joAnne spies