“We cannot force the development of mindfulness.” – Allen Lokos
When I was in Yoga teacher training, meditation stressed me out. I could teach it, say the right words, have my voice go very quiet and low, but my own meditation practice? That was incredibly hard.
As soon as I would get on the mat for guided meditation, I would start to obsess if it was “going to happen” for me or not this time. At the time, I thought other people just got to experience meditation or they didn’t. It did not seem like anything that I could work on outside of class.
I would sit on my mat mentally torturing myself until the teacher hit the chime letting us know it was time to come out of mediation, meanwhile I had never gone in.
I was much like a bull in a china shop, only the shop was my mind. I was attempting to force the enlightenment dammit!! And boy was it a flaming disaster.
It wasn’t until I stated trying to be mindful in other areas of my life, that I was able to get the meditation thing.
At first, I JUST brushed my teeth. I would only notice how the bristles felt on my teeth, the mint smell of the toothpaste, the noise the process was making.
The next week, I would ONLY color with my then 6 year old daughter while she talked about school. I wouldn’t do anything else for 10 minutes. No prepping dinner or cleaning up the house. Just listening and engaging with her while we colored.
The following week, I added going for a walk in my neighborhood without any music or my phone and could only appreciate nature. I would do this for 20 minutes.
My yoga teacher training met once a month, and the session after I incorporated small amounts of mindfulness into my daily life, things started clicking on the mat. I wasn’t having a battle of wills with myself, I was able to relax enough to truly meditate.
It was as if the multitasking were getting in my way when it came to learning to just be. I was the person at the gym with a magazine, listening to music and watching the tv with closed captioning on while on the elliptical. I could never just watch tv, I was also picking up the house, or catching up on emails, or folding laundry. I could never just do one thing. I thought I was being efficient.
If you want to start a mindfulness practice and how about just brushing your teeth for a week? Then the following, just wash the dishes, drive to work or empty the dishwasher. Let your brain wander, and don’t judge it, gently guide it back. Notice your breathing, your posture, how you are feeling about your movements.
If after a few weeks you might want to download an app and sit on a mat, then go for it.
Mindfulness helps with stress reduction, greater peace of mind and increased creativity.
It will also help with disease prevention and reduced anxiety.
Mindfulness isn’t something we do just in Yoga studios anymore, so feel free to embrace it.
“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn