Mindfulness is an intentional practice. The same for meditation.
I know when you look at pictures of people meditating on social media, you see this blissful expression on their faces and a text underneath telling you all about the benefits.
I also do the same. And I get worried that I can mislead people in thinking this is a magical cure for stress and general unhappiness.
These images of happiness or bliss, only attainable by a few, are illusory. In fact, we feel the effects of a mindfulness practice if we do just that: practice.
Practice is part of learning anything new: piano, guitar, a new language, tennis. If you thought you could start out performing at a high level without practicing, you’d likely be disappointed. It takes people hours of intentional practice to reach a point of expertise and high performance. Like the skills listed above, the capacity to be mindful is something that you learn and grow into.
Don’t let the sitting and the silence fool you. These practices are participatory, not passive.
Those interested in mindfulness will often tell me that they want to get into the habit of practicing daily.
For example, when you download a meditation app. The app will remind you when to meditate, but when the reminder pops up on your phone, you will guiltily ignore it. Now, it’s a source of frustration, just one more thing that you fail to accomplish each day. Not quite what you were hoping for.
Other people, as they begin practicing mindfulness, will say things like, “I think I’m doing something wrong.” They don’t feel anything special.
I try to assure them that there is no “right” experience. Whatever you experience is what you experience. That is the point.
Most mindfulness practices are simply about becoming aware and observing the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations that arise within you, without being overtaken by them.
It’s perfectly normal to feel bored, anxious, or frustrated—you may be tapping into feelings that you experience unconsciously all the time. It may not be entirely pleasant. And it’s in moments like these that people new to these practices might find it too difficult to continue on a daily basis or stop altogether.
How to engage people in the practice of mindfulness always was an interest of mine. I’ve been putting together action plan strategies that have been shown to help people put personal commitments into practice.
Here are two of those strategies:
- One way to boost mindfulness practice is to develop a simple, strategic plan of where and when you will practice each day. This is most helpful for those deeply committed to developing a regular mindfulness practice. And that’s why I created a practical workshop “Find Your Time to Meditate”, where I show you in a simple and efficient way how to find YOUR time to practice. Because It is going to be different for everyone, and what works for me, might not work for you. I also teach you how to have fun, how to turn it into something joyful that you look forward to, rather than a chore.
- What is your WHY? This is probably one of the most important things to consider when you are developing anything you want to do consistently, especially when establishing a meditation practice. Your why is going to be unique to you, but connecting to this will help you show up, as this is the thing that will get you out of bed each day, that will help you move beyond the excuses and all the reasons that will come into your head not to (and there are always plenty of them), it will help you stay connected to your practice and get you on the chair. To help you with this you can listen to my guided meditation “Intention” here. This will help you to set or remember your motivation for meditation.
- Support and Guidance: I’ll be there during your journey, giving you the tools to develop your practice. Encouraging you to go deeper in your practice and to not ignore discomfort. Opening the door to deeper inquiry and insight. Celebrating the little vitories.
- Be Your Own Anchor Facebook Group: A free safe space where I share real life practice (the boring and not so pretty part), and where we get together once a month in an interactive Zoom group meeting for mindfulness and meditation, to share struggles and victories, and practice together.
Regardless of how you enter into these practices, it’s important to know that cultivating awareness and higher states of well-being follow from hard, intentional practice and don’t come easy.
This may not be what you want to hear, but by understanding this reality from the beginning and using smart practice strategies, you stand a better chance of sticking with the practice and experiencing the benefits that it can unlock along the way.
Take good care of you,