What’s your relationship with your mind in this moment? How does it feel in there right….now?
In that moment of noticing, checking-in and reflecting, you are having a moment of mindfulness. Isn’t that amazing?
(It may feel scary, your mind might feel like a difficult place, that’s hard but that’s ok, no judgement. I’m proud of you for noticing, naming, sharing that).
What do you think about mindfulness and mindfulness meditation generally? Is it for you?
Or is it just for Buddhist monks and people who do picturesque yoga on Instagram?
Maybe you meditate, maybe this helps you, maybe you are 100% hippy and meditate daily. Either way, I think you’ll enjoy what I have for you today…
What’s Really Happening Now?
Let me ask you another question, how much do you notice sound/colour/sensation?
Notice, as you read or listen to this, what sounds you can hear or what colours or objects you can see (according to what impairments you may be living with).
Or become aware of the sensations in your body at the moment, the inside and the outside ones.
My Life In a Minute
For example; at the moment, I can hear the typing of the keys, my own breathing, the kettle boiling in the kitchen, the water pipes, classical music on the radio and my rescue dogs stomping around the sitting room playing together.
As for sensations; inside I can feel pain and fatigue, as well as stiffness and blurred thoughts, all these are familiar. But outside I can feel the sensation of the clothes on my body, the smoothness of the cotton on my sore arms and the weight of my body on the chair. I can feel the cushion on my back, my hair on my neck and my jewellery resting on my skin.
Focusing on these I become mindful in the moment and I truly become present, accepting the pain and letting it be rather than trying to live around it.
We can stop and take the time to appreciate our surroundings and be here now.
The sound which could be irritating can become an exercise in letting go or can become a sound-scape: a landscape of sound. We are just expanding our awareness, not cataloguing or engaging, just bringing closer awareness to this moment.
Do the sounds or smells, or textures or sights around you bring up any images or feelings for you? Notice them and if it’s possible for you, let them pass on.
When we are mindful, when we come to inhabit our bodies more fully and rest in the moment, without judging it, without reaching, projecting, living into the future or harking, mulling and absorbing ourselves in the past then we can become aware of the richness of the moment.
What Stops Us Meditating?
1. I don’t have any time!
Many people say they do not have time for meditation or mindfulness practice, but it is not something that has to take hours.
Several of my teachers recommend a “3-minute” breathing space, and Sue Weston, my Tai Chi Qui Gong teacher actually talks about a “3-second” exercise. As she says no-one is too busy for 3 seconds!
Whatever you do, just do it.
Stop. Breathe. Be.
2. Does the little I do actually work?
An exercise for 3 seconds is still powerful. No-one is saying it will solve everything. You may still be agitated, still in pain, still struggling, but it is a practice, your body practices stopping and resting.
The more you get into it the more the body remembers and the practice deepens. Building a teeny, mini, powerful practice might be the thing you are grateful for in the future.
If it takes the edge off your tension the tiniest bit it is worth it. There’s no magic pill but practice, experience and kindness of living in our bodies and hearts.
In meditation, people have a hundred reasons not to get on the mat. I know, I used those excuses myself for years.
3. I don’t have space
One of the big reasons is “no space”. We all have obligations and restrictions to some extent.
For example, taking care of children, working, or working in several jobs, studying, perhaps in a care home where you cannot decide the schedule or with care workers who don’t respect your needs or in hospital where you are limited by the rules and routines.
It is our choice how we react to and think about things in our lives and it is up to us to reframe them into ideas that empower us, to helps us through the difficult times.
I have limitations and obligations too, but this is not about arguing but about empowerment through mindfulness.
I would guess we all have at least one minute a day to ourselves and it is our choice how to spend it. So you have your minute or more, take some time and be mindful, of your breathing, your surroundings, your heart beat, you choose.
4. I have resistance, I can’t get on the mat
What if, instead of coming up with reasons why we can’t we said,
Ok. I want to meditate, but I don’t. I have resistance to it.
When I think about meditation I feel __________.
When I go to meditate I have thoughts about ______________.
My most frequent excuse is__________.
It could be guilt about taking time for yourself, pressures of work, fear of what comes up when you slow down, you always fall asleep, lots of things. But we can discover them and then work with them.
Often these problems have come up for someone before and there are ways to solve them.
5. I’m in a crisis! Now is not the time for meditation
Often people say they cannot meditate at the moment because of this problem or challenge in their life or business or stress.
Meditation can help you through those times.
It is then that you most need and lean on your practice. It’s best to build your practice before the crisis, I feel, but if it works for you now, go for it.
Why not use this tool? Why deny yourself that?
Are we waiting for our lives to be perfect and stress-free before we begin meditating?
If this is the case then if your life were so perfect and joyous and like a walking meditation you almost wouldn’t need to meditate! I joke, but it is worth allowing yourself this solace now.
Bonus Reason: I don’t know how. I don’t have the resources for some loooong course
If you need a good, safe and gentle space to begin, check out Hella Metta: 10 days of fierce lovingkindness from our new sponsor Christy Tending Healing Arts. I love it so, it’s the perfect, compassionate beginning to your mindful journey.
(Check back later this week to get the full scoop on Christy’s awesome work and goodies for you).
I began my meditation training many years ago before I’d met Christy, with the wonderful Breathworks.
I saw the course advertised and thought, “Can I really begin a course now? Do I have the time, money and energy?”
What was I waiting for? To wake up one morning and think “Hmmm. I randomly have 8 weeks and a chunk of money free and am totally well. I think I will go and do a mindfulness meditation course today!”
Then I realised that I was waiting for a perfect starting moment that didn’t exist. The time to begin was that moment, to choose to make the space, find the energy, carve out the time and work out the money.
(Luckily for you, Breathworks now offers amazing online classes as well as in-person courses, and Vidyamala Burch – the trailblazing founder of Breathworks CIC – has written some super accessible books and audios on meditation and chronic pain.)
My meditation story
I wasn’t meditating before because I felt that to meditate I had to be sitting at my altar meditating “properly”. Also, I wanted to do it in the morning, but I would wake up feeling unwell and then lie in bed for hours waiting until I felt well enough to be sat up to meditate. All the while feeling resentful about being ill and unable to meditate when I just wanted to get on with my day. It was not a good situation.
So I thought, ‘Why am I fussing?’, the main thing is that I meditate.
So now I wake up, take meds and meditate, in bed. This works, it is practical, comfortable and I enjoy it and look forward to the meditations.
If you begin your practice today begin with gentleness. Let us not delay living mindfully but know that there is no better place and time than here and now.
If you want a good, safe and gentle space to begin, check out Hella Metta: 10 days of fierce lovingkindness
Do you meditate or practice mindfulness? What’s your favourite meditation? Let me know in the comments.