Mary Jo Ricketson — nurse, teacher, certified yoga instructor and personal trainer — shows readers the way in her new book Moving Meditation (www.thegoodwithin.com).
“We all have within us the potential to experience peace and optimal well-being,” she says. “To be safe from all distress we must learn to live in the present moment, for the present moment holds the key to our potential I call the Good Within.”
The body is always present, grounded in the present moment by gravity, she says. The daily practice of exercises in Moving Meditation disciplines the mind to stay at home in the space of the body, safe from all distress.
“We’re not free from stress – that’s not possible or desirable,” Ricketson says. “But we’re able to choose a response to the stress from a state of mind-body that is grounded, centered and strong. We learn to think and move from a space of open heart and open mind and become response-able — able to respond to the stress in ways that promote life and optimal well-being.”
For many people, she says, living in the present moment is like living in a foreign land. Research over the past 10 years shows that for most people, up to 90 percent of their thoughts are fixed on the past with regret or remorse, or racing ahead to the future with worry and anxiety.
“Discomfort, tension and disease all stem from the inability of the mind-body to respond to stress in ways that are life-giving rather than self-defeating,” Ricketson says. “We forfeit our opportunity to respond effectively when the mind is not fully present to the body in times of distress. When the mind is not present to its own being in the space of the body, we cannot expect to be present for others.”
When the mind is absent, people experience a feeling of abandonment, which triggers a stress response. Through the autonomic nervous system, the body purposefully creates tension, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate and other physiological changes. This is how the body gets us to “come to our senses,” Ricketson says.
In training, she reminds her clients to “come home”– to call the mind home so that they can respond in the most effective way possible.
When people learn to discipline the mind to stay fully present in the body, they are most able to meet the challenges they face in ways that decrease stress and promote life. They gain confidence and strength in their ability to let stress work for them rather than against them. Peace and well-being follow this conscious union of mind and body, Ricketson says.
“It is in this space of conscious union that we meet God,” she says. “Through our training of mind and body, we can learn to be with God here on Earth. Conscious now of God’s presence, we come to know and feel all we are made to be. You are made to know peace and well-being. It is within you. Practice being present and you will see the Good Within come to life.”
Mary Jo Ricketson has studied human health and well-being for decades, earning a bachelor of science in nursing and a master’s in education. In 1999, she opened the Center for Mind-Body Training, which offers classes, seminars and personal training. She offers yoga training in her studio, at schools, and in corporate settings. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and two children.