Following on from my last post, where we explored various aspects of mindfulness and what it is and isn’t, let’s go a little further and explore the ‘sitting’ element of mindfulness.
A structured, seated mindfulness practice can be challenging to develop and stick to. Thankfully, it is not the only way to practice mindfulness. It definitely has amazing benefits, however you don’t want to cause yourself stress, trying to implement it, or punish yourself if you don’t. Having a structured mindfulness practice can assist in developing and strengthening your ability to be more mindful in your everyday life and vice versa. It took me quite a while to develop a regular mindfulness practice and even now it isn’t always consistent. I don’t always sit for a practice, however I do practice mindfulness in various activities and experiences I have throughout the day.
The following are some examples:
I try to eat some of my meals mindfully, not in front of a screen, not being busy doing other things, simply noticing all the flavours, textures and scents in my food. (keep an eye out for my blog on the benefits of mindful eating).
When I am walking around, I notice my surroundings, the sounds, the scents, the leaves on a tree, the beauty of the whole tree, how I am feeling in my body, the various feelings I get, dependent on my surroundings.
Notice the emotions that are present in various situations, how I am reacting or responding and why or where that response might be coming from.
I consciously take the time to notice the breeze on my skin and through my hair.
I began by trying, not very successfully, to meditate on a daily basis, many years ago. I would do it for a few days or weeks, notice how wonderful I was feeling and then life would get in the way and I would stop. I would then become cranky at myself, as I knew how great I felt. I could never understand why I had so much trouble continuing, when I felt so good.
One thing I came to realise is, that telling myself off does not help create healthy habits. It only succeeds in making me feel worse. I then discovered that taking smaller steps, introducing moments of mindfulness throughout my day was much more beneficial to my sense of self and wellbeing. I could then work towards developing a seated practice more gradually and relaxed, without punishing or guilting myself. I still have a long way to go, however I feel much more comfortable with my progress, including the bumps in the road.
It is important to be kind to yourself and allow yourself the time and space to establish a routine that works best for you. Including room to be flexible, to allow for life’s interruptions, for the bumps in the road and the hiccups in your plans. I find this allows you to continue or restart your practice after an interruption.
In the past this was one of my problems. I would start a regular morning practice, life would interrupt and I would then feel like I failed. I would judge myself harshly and not go back. When I finally decided to have another try, I made the judgement that I can’t practice in the morning because I have already failed at that, so I would try and change the day. Eventually, the same thing would happen and on and on it goes. Now, I recognise that I am human, living a very human life and sometimes things get in the way of what I want to be doing and this is ok. I simply pick up where I left off, do a quick reflection of whether anything needs to change and continue on.
I sincerely believe that my day to day casual mindfulness practice has strongly assisted in me arriving at this point. I am excited to continue on this journey, developing a deeper, more consistent mindful meditation practice. (Keep an eye out for future blogs talking you through the how’s of a basic seated practice)
If this topic appeals to you and you are looking for ways to develop your mindfulness practice, or simply to become more mindful in your day to day life, I’d love to explore ways that I can support and encourage you. My coaching programs all include elements of #mindfulness as I feel it is such a vital component of our #health and #wellbeing. I can support you to develop the skills to approach the world with a more mindful lens, so that you can identify and focus on your priorities. #loveyourselfunconditionally is one of the keys to a fulfilled life.