Fr. Edwin Robinson, O.F.M., Director of Pastoral Care at Cabrini of Westchester, is leading a group of Cabrini staff in the Practice of Mindfulness as part of a series in services to promote the health and wellbeing of Cabrini staff. In a very busy and often distracted world, the practice of mindfulness allows the group to enter into the present moment, and experience its calm and peace. In 1998, Fr. Edwin attended an eight-day retreat led by the Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. He has been practicing Mindfulness Meditation since that time.
The words of Psalm 104:10a, “Be still, and experience the ‘I am’ of my divine presence,” sum up the “how” of the practice. The group is meeting for a series of six – thirty minutes sessions. Fr. Edwin invites the participants to sit in such a way that they are aware of the dynamics of the present moment, in themselves individually and as a group. In the creation stories of Genesis, the authors have God declare, “It is not good for the human person to be alone.” (Gen. 2:1). Modern psychology also asserts that we humans are essentially social beings. For this reason group practice of mindfulness is the best way to learn the practice for it accelerates its benefits. However, mindfulness is also practiced individually. The road taken by Fr. Edwin from the 1998 retreat to years of individual and group practice is a good example of why the group setting is a good place to learn the practice.
In the beginning, those who practice mindfulness find that it is not as easy as it sounds. However, almost immediately the beneficial aspects of the practice can be felt, even if only for brief moments. These benefits are the reason why those who begin the practice and persevere make it an integral part of their daily lives.
So far, the staff who have participated in the series attest to its benefits. Fr. Edwin emphasizes that the members of the group need to be gentle with themselves and everyone in the group. He also highlights the reality that each person is essentially defined by his or her humanity. Hence, titles and functions fade away as the members of the group enter into the present moment and experience the wonder of who they are as human beings.