It is the returning that matters
(This is dedicated to my students who inspire me every week…)
What matters is not how many times we drift away from meditation and mindfulness practice but how many times we return…
It is the returning… the coming back to the Self…the coming back to the breath that takes us to realization.
Realization is the process through which our eyes are opened, our mind is transformed from an unconscious source of criticism and judgment to a full awakened, gentle observer.
In and through mindfulness practice, every aspect of experience is welcomed and appreciated.
With mindfulness meditation, we take on the role of an impartial observer of everything that passes before our attention. Our intention is to be mindful, that is, to be fully aware and awake of what is going on in the present moment. Often the breath is still used as an anchor to the present moment in mindfulness meditation, but apart from that, no attempt is made to direct the attention.
Whatever thoughts, so called distractions, sounds, images, ideas, or feelings arise, nothing is excluded. Everything is welcomed. We simply pay attention to whatever is there. We do not judge or evaluate. Whatever happens, whatever occurs is okay – we just sit quietly and observe.
Mindfulness meditation can be applied to all experiences in life. Whatever is happening, we should not try to hold the experience outside ourselves. Mindfulness is about embracing reality and the present moment, whether we are working, running or enjoying a meal.
In order to help integrate the practice of mindfulness into every element of your daily life, it is sometimes helpful to establish cues. Walking through a doorway can be a cue to remember to take a full breath and be fully present. Every time we hear a phone ring it can cue us to breathe and center before we answer the phone or go about our activities. Every time we see or hear a particular word like, “Welcome!” or “Life” we can remember to take a breath and be present.
Be the Gentle Observer
Learn to smile at yourself when you catch yourself making a mistake. Take a full breath and soften your voice and your face BEFORE you speak aloud to someone when you are aware of feeling stressed or frustrated. Be gentle with yourself and allow this gentle Self to watch from the proverbial sidelines with a smile knowing that every experience, every emotion, every thought can be welcomed and dealt with in a way that is conscious. Respond after observation rather than reacting automatically.