Monthly Archives: June 2010

There’s no wrong way to practice mindfulness

There’s no wrong way to practice mindfulness.
It’s impossible.
You either do it or don’t do it.
But you can’t do it wrong
Because it’s not about right and wrong.

It’s not about sitting still,
It’s about letting something inside get still.

It’s about attention and where it goes.

So go ahead and walk, move, do something,
Something that doesn’t need thinking.

And don’t be fooled.

Don’t think you don’t think when you’re mindful.
You’ll think.
You’re a human and humans think.
That’s why we practice.
To notice that we are such great, grand, relentless thinkers.

It goes like this: you’re following your breath, just like you’re supposed to.
And next thing you know, you’re thinking.
It happens. A lot.

Don’t get on your case.
Just notice.

As a noticer, you notice that you can always notice your thoughts instead of engaging with them.
{Except, of course, when you can’t. Or don’t.}

And then, the magic comes.

Sometimes you notice a tiny clear voice inside.
It sounds different from the usual voice, the one that’s there distracting you.
It’s different because it’s the voice of Truth, and it has no agenda.
It simply whispers in your ear and something inside you goes Ping! and that’s really cool.

But then there’s that other voice. The Nag. The Worrier. The Scold.

Be gentle with her.
When a thought about a problem comes up, gently tell yourself you can solve it later.
When a thought about something interesting comes up, promise yourself that you can daydream about the new shoes you want later.
{Be sure to keep your promise.  Daydreams are important.}
When a thought about something ordinary comes up, remind yourself that you can make the grocery list later.

Remind yourself that you are a noticer, an observer,
A scientist in a white lab coat observing microorganisms dance on a slide.
You are the Scientist of You.
You with the urgent, interesting, enticing, dancing thoughts.

When those thoughts get harsh,
Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts.
You are flesh and blood and hair and guts and spirit and energy,
And heart.
That’s what you are.
You are not your thoughts.  Listen again.
You are not your thoughts.

And if you notice you don’t want to go back to your breath, then
Notice your resistance.
Observe it with the curiosity of a child watching a bug crawl on a leaf.
Notice what color your resistance is and how it speaks to you.
Is it scratchy or smooth, fast or slow, high or low?
Does your resistance come in words, images, feelings?
Notice that your resistance, too, is just a thought.
And an I-don’t-want-to temper tantrum of a thought is still a thought, just like the other ones.
The ones that tempt you with visions of dinner.
The ones that rerun crappy conversations a million times and tell you that you have to do something about this RIGHT THIS MINUTE.
{Isn’t that funny?  What’s the big hurry?}

So go ahead and resist with your wholehearted approval.
Because there’s no wrong way be mindful.

Keeping Inspiration Alive After a Retreat

Ever go to a really good, intensive transformational workshop or retreat?

They’re usually out-of-town, full of motivation and connection. We learn, laugh, connect, struggle and grow. A really good one leaves us feeling inspired, motivated, and empowered.  We leave feeling as if we could leap tall buildings in a single bound.

And then it fades.

Away from our everyday routines we soak up inspiration like dry sponges.  We leave feeling as if transforming our lives was no more difficult than making a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.  After a few days or a few weeks, it’s back to business as usual.

Inspiration fades and we forget how fabulous it all was and how fabulous we were.

So how can we stay enlivened after we return home to our jobs, mortgages, and everyday routines?  Here are a few ways that can help you stay inspired:

1.  Return to the workshop often. Assemble your notes, schedules, photos, workshop descriptions and handouts into a scrapbook or journal and look at it often.  Recall the fun you had, the ideas that came to you, and your personal highlights of the event.  Make notes and add them to your notebook.

2.  Keep feeling the energy you left with.  Recall the physical sensations in your body when your inspiration was at its peak and you felt unstoppable. Re-experience those feelings regularly by recalling them and breathing into the memories.

3.  Recall the goals, perceptions, and images that you had during the workshop. Write down the thoughts you had when you realized your new life was attainable.  Visualize it, too.  See your transformation in your mind’s eye, as if it were real right now.  Allow yourself to believe that your inspired new life is not only possible, but easily achievable.

4.  Stay connected to your peeps. Email, social media, and cheap long distance telephone make it easy to keep in touch with like-minded attendees.  Organize a weekly group call.  Don’t allow your conversations to backslide into complaints and lost dreams.  Take turns leading the calls, and make a pact with each other to stay focused on inspired, positive themes.  Cheer each other on.

5.  Stay connected to those who inspired you. Most workshop leaders and speakers offer lots of support and further inspiration on their websites.  Much of it is free.  Visit their websites.  Sign up for their teleclasses and ezines.  Read their books and blogs.  Listen to their podcasts.  Friend them on Facebook, “like” their fan pages, follow them on Twitter, and let them continue to guide you to greater inspiration, knowledge, and skills.

6.  Take a daily risk. Commit to taking one tiny step towards your new goals every single day, even if it scares you.  Especially if it scares you.  You’ll quickly discover that overcoming your fears and limiting beliefs through tiny action steps isn’t nearly as uncomfortable as staying stuck in old patterns is.

7.  Remember, transformation is a process, not a destination. Keep reminding yourself that permanent change comes over time.  Commit to giving yourself the gifts of patience and self-acceptance along the way.

So go ahead, and go for it.  Keep your inspiration alive.  Before long, you’ll be leaping tall buildings with a single bound.