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Why do I strongly believe what I believe?


By Jackie Frederick-Berner


When Nobel prize winning physicist, Arno Penzias, was asked what led to his success — his discovery of cosmic radiation helped cement the Big Bang Theory — he shared his daily habit of asking himself a simple question. “The first thing I do each morning,” Penzias explained, “is ask myself, Why do I strongly believe what I believe?


While I wouldn’t even begin to attempt to solve the secrets of the universe, I would like to make a habit of asking myself that question upon waking every morning because then I wouldn’t spend the rest of the day forgetting the answer. Not that I forget intentionally. It’s the daily distractions, human and human-made, that get in the way. So, I am taking this moment to write down some answers in order to better remember.


I believe that touching in with my breath, its gentle, natural rhythm like waves lapping against the shore, touching in with the weight of my body and the downward pull of gravity that keeps me connected to the earth, is the way home to myself. When I find that I’m spinning, overwhelmed, troubled by the woes of the world, taking a moment to come back to my body causes my heart to open with relief and my physical energy to lean toward a welcome mat that I realize has always been out.


I believe that being outdoors, feeling the air fill my lungs and touch my skin, resets something primal in me and helps me remember --particularly when I’m feeling lost or lonely or without

purpose -- where I truly come from and that I belong. Walking past trees, tiny tips of pine needles holding droplets of rain, smelling the briny scent of the Long Island Sound, seeing the sky stretch out endlessly above me, I immediately settle into my place in the world.


I believe that my meditation practice, particularly when I lapse, has shown me that it’s okay to just begin again. It doesn’t judge or browbeat. It helps me recognize that I’m the one coming down on myself. It gives me space and grace to untangle from the blame game. It helps me take a fresh start.


Please, let me ask this question when I find myself mindlessly scrolling on my phone instead of being productive, or riling myself up by replaying a senseless argument in my head or when my guilty pleasure of e-shopping The Real Real and Poshmark turns into a borderline obsession: What is it that I strongly believe and how do I know it to be true? I don’t need science to support my reasons, even though it does. I only need to take a moment to mindfully clear a path back to my own heart. The answer is always there.


Jackie is a Mindfulness meditation instructor in the Buddhist Shamatha tradition. She has also studied Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and is certified to teach mindfulness techniques to children k-12. As a member of the Healing Arts Collective of Rye, she is part of a group of health and wellness professionals dedicated to helping community members manage stress, foster resilience and nurture well-being. Through the HAC, she has facilitated guided walking meditations for Rye teachers and residents. Mindfulness meditation has and continues to deeply enrich her life and Jackie is passionate about sharing this practice with others so they too can experience the fruits that mindfulness has to offer. www.jackiefrederick-berner.com


Jackie teaches the Mindfulness Meditation every Monday from 7:30 - 8PM.

To join Jackie in her class, please register here.

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