If there is one thing I love about mindfulness practice the most, it is that it can look different for different people - and still have beneficial effects.
Meditating isn't a "one size fits all" practice. Yes there are basic skills used to develop concentration, awareness and compassion - but how you cultivate your awareness is centered on personal choice.
We tend to stick with new habits when we feel we have a choice in the matter. And much of mindfulness practice opens up the space for decision making - even about things we may have never given a second thought.
For instance, when you are meditating and you notice getting caught in the waterfall of thoughts, you always have a choice to make. If you can catch that moment (it takes practice) you can decide to return to your anchor (breath, sensations, sound) or you can center your awareness on the thoughts themselves. Labeling the thoughts with a soft silent whisper, "thinking, thinking, thinking" can allow us the freedom to observe.
With mindfulness practice, this space for making a decision for how to respond to life becomes readily available. How do I want to respond? How do I want to be with this? Mindfulness really creates the conditions where you get to decide. It moves you from reacting to responding with intention, discernment and care.
I know most of you want to do things the "right" or "ideal" way so let me give you a quick run down of some possibilities for mindfulness to expand your view of the practice. This is not an exhaustive list, but can help you decide how and when you can incorporate more mindfulness into your day.
Pausing for a few minutes and observing something from each of your five senses.
Running vigorously while you center your attention on the sensations of movement.
A tiny moment washing your hands where you suddenly cue into how nice the warm water feels on your skin.
A formal meditation with a timer set in your special zen space.
An informal meditation while you wait for your kids in the pickup line at school by grounding into your body and mindfully breathing.
A pause before you log into a meeting online or walk into an in-person meeting where you simply take a long, full breath and check in: How am I doing in this moment?
Listening to others and letting go of your own agenda or thoughts about what you'll say next.
A quick check in before you go to sleep as you notice what your body feels like as it gets still, tired and ready to slumber.
A practice done in groups, alone, in pairs - online, in person, inside or outside.
Setting an intention before heading into an experience: "I intend to be fully present. I intend to bring my most understanding self forward, or I intend to notice the joy in this experience" are examples.
Whatever your personal choices are around meditation - know that mindfulness doesn't have to be practiced perfectly to be beneficial. That really the idea of being a perfect meditator isn't the point. Find what works for you and try to do that consistently. Staying flexible with your practice is perfectly okay.
Comment below to let me know what mindfulness looks like for you.
For current offerings, including a 2022 New Year Introduction class (a great present for the holiday season) click here.
If you'd like to consider joining a weekday morning mindfulness practice group please send me an email here with your name and days/times that would work for you. I'll be in touch with options once enough folks are ready to commit.
To practice right now, check out a guided 5 minute pause here.