Mindfulness…It’s printed everywhere and it seems everyone is talking about it.
I’ve been really hesitant to write much or comment on it really, mindfulness has been around a long time and there is plenty of info out there on the topic. Some of the books written by the Dalai Lama are a great place to gain more of an understanding on the topic of Mindfulness and other principles of developing a more peaceful mind and existence.
This post was prompted by some of the following comments that have come from discussions with you. Here’s some of what I’ve been hearing:
‘I need to learn how to practice mindfulness! I keep reading how good it is, but I don’t think I’m capable, my mind is too busy’
‘I find it sooo hard to meditate!’ (insert exasperated sigh)
‘I really want to learn how to calm my mind and develop more mindfulness, but every time I try and meditate I get more agitated’
‘I can’t sit still for 2 mins, let alone meditate, I wish I could.’
‘I envy people who can just sit and be zen, can you teach me how to do that?’
Mindfulness really by definition is the practice of being in the present moment and observing whatever exists in that moment, accepting the thought’s emotions and feelings as they exist.
It always surprises me when people talk about yoga and meditation, or yoga and breathing practices. Let me try and make something a little clearer:
Asana (posture) + breath + mindfulness = YOGA.
They aren’t separate, even when you’re moving through a simple vinyasa, if you are working to match the movement to the breath then the mind will be in the present moment and in that moment you will be mindful of the breathing and sensations in the body, and the thoughts, emotions as they arise during the practice.
You don’t have to sit cross legged on the floor in perfect stillness to develop a sense of mindfulness. While you can take up an extended seated meditation to sit and develop mindfulness I would suggest that this is a real challenge for anyone starting out and even a hindrance to developing insight for most of us, me included, especially if the physical body is very agitated and uncomfortable from already sitting many hours…
You can practice mindfulness while drinking a cup of tea!
So if you are wanting to develop a mindfulness practice here are some tips to consider when you’re on your mat:
- When on the mat always place importance on the breath first.
- Work to match the movement to the breath and not the other way around. The speed of the movement is always the speed of the breath.
- Whenever possible trying closing your eyes esp. when lying, sitting or kneeling.
- Once you’ve lost the breath, come into a restful position and bring your focus back to your breathing.
- Use ujjai while working with flow sequences.
- When a thought, emotion, sensation comes up, instead of using the mind to explain it, rationalize it, will it to move on…just stop and watch it, notice some of the qualities of it, without labeling its good it’s bad. Try be a silent witness of whatever arises.
- Remind yourself that everything is constantly changing and that includes the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ experiences.
- If you do want to sit in stillness then do your meditation practice after some simple flow sequences.
- Acknowledge that some days it will be easy for you to slip into the present moment and be present with your body and your breathing and other days it will feel like you’ve been thrown into the octagon with Rhonda Rousey and every second is a fight to stay with it. When it is difficult you don’t need to explain it, just be with it and know that it will pass.
- Instead of checking Instagram or FB, throughout your day take small moments, doesn’t have to be long to just close your eyes and feel your body in contact with the chair, feel the movement of the breath in your body, notice the sounds around you, the wind against your skin. The more often you bring your mind into the present the better.
Well I hope that helps, we really are our harshest critics. To find more awareness and mindfulness we don’t have to sit still in meditation for long stretches of time. I’ve heard my teacher refer to this as indulgent. Our practices should help us to find more strength, clarity and peace so that we can carry on with our daily lives and responsibilities.
Look forward to seeing you at the studio Kxx