Lisa Love, MS, RN has been a mindfulness-junkie before it was a thing, which probably means she was a mindbody nerd before that was even a thing. http://www.mindfulguidance4me.com
Starting a mindfulness practice – especially the informal kind where you weave present-moment awareness into your daily activities – is simple. At any given moment, notice this breath, notice layers of sound filtering into your ears, observe sensations in the body, rest against the support beneath you. Simple, right? For some, it seems ludicrous to pay attention to the present. The mind has so many more interesting ideas about what to superimpose on this moment. To the mind, being is boring. It will do its utmost to distract you from the simple task at hand, so be prepared for constant hijacking at the outset. This can be frustrating, especially for dedicated or recovering perfectionists.
While the instructions are simple, they are not easy, especially if you are practicing with an attachment to a desired outcome. Mindfulness practice does not deliver guarantees, even though the scientific evidence evolving from studying effects of repeated practice is encouraging: increased focus, decreased distress, increased resilience, decreased subjective pain, increased emotional intelligence, decreased flight or fight triggering, etc.
What I notice when clients begin to take up the practice, is that they become more aware of all the times they are UNmindful. They become keenly aware of their negative assessments of themselves or the current situation. The practice simply heightens awareness of whatever you are paying attention to. Until you decide to pay attention to less judgmental summaries of yourself, others or the present moment, you can feel at least 10% crappier – initially. So be prepared, because if you press eject before you have a chance to begin sensing the benefits, you’ll inaccurately prejudge the practice as worthless, or even making things worse.
It’s akin to going on safari in a jungle that seems dark, scary and overwhelming. Your machete blade is beginning to get dull the more you hack your way in. You are sweating and working hard, worrying about all the dangers that may be lurking around the next bend. Until you learn to settle in to your new surroundings, confront the uncertainties with acceptance and even lean in to the scary unknown with an attitude of openness, curiosity and courage, you’ll likely turn around and run, or just stop in sheer panic or exhaustion.
So I invite you to leave your expectations at the door. Be open to this journey unfolding in whatever way is organic to you and your life experience. Drop the attachment to feeling happier, crappier, or just plain confused. Start the practice with a clear intention to befriend yourself and your experience in this moment. With repetition and willingness, you will discover the hidden gems, the inner spaciousness that exists beneath all the doing and thinking and reacting. Just.Be.Open. Trust will evolve and you will go deeper into the unexplored, magical jungle with an adventurous heart.
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