“Mindfulness” = The moment to moment awareness of experience just the way it is.
I don't know about you, but I could practice being more mindful today. And... every day, every moment, every breath. Recent posts have centered on holding difficult conversations amid the stress of turbulent times, and I thought I'd bring it down a notch and talk about the antidote to stress, which also happens to be a way to calm emotional triggers, find balance, and regain power under pressure--mindfulness meditation.
Practicing Mindfulness in Turbulent Times
Liz Korabek-Emerson--mindfulness teacher, transformational workshop leader and creative coach--describes mindfulness as "the moment to moment awareness of experience just the way it is." I attended a mindfulness training with Liz recently, and was reminded of how the mind is always looking for thoughts to focus on. In Liz's session, my mind settled and returned to the present each time I came back to the breath. I had to come back many times, because my thoughts (ever wandering) drew me away. And... that's the practice.
My mentor Thomas Crum writes about the difference between Being and Doing. I'm a "do-er" -- I like to organize and get stuff done. I'm usually thinking about what's next on my list before I've even finished the task at hand. Consequently, I need to practice bringing myself back to the present--a lot!
Although I meditate daily and teach centering in my trainings, I'm still amazed at the way my mind is constantly busy--Did I remember to buy those tickets? How should I reply to that email? Will Mom manage okay while I'm away? I wish I'd kept my mouth shut yesterday! And equally amazed at how bringing my wandering mind back is a constant practice.
I asked Liz if I could reprint an article from her blog that speaks to that worry, "Am I doing it right?" -- which I think we all have when the mind wanders. She graciously said yes.
Enjoy this simple summons to a kinder, happier and more connected you, and if you are looking for a centered and powerful mindfulness meditation teacher, go find Liz.
The Measure of Success
The measure of success of our practice is...
Not the number of sessions, or how good we are at it, or how long we sit (although we still have to show up and do it)
But in how kind we are, to ourselves and then others, how connected we feel to our life and the people around us, how happy we are – not in that “I got everything I wanted for Xmas” happy but in the kind of happiness that enables us to be resilient, to bounce back and continue to be in the natural flow of life – meeting difficulties without adding to our burdens, recognizing our common humanity and wholeheartedly embracing joy as it tumbles unexpectedly into our days. In short, happy to be with things just the way they are; including ourselves, other people and life situations.
Sharon Saltzberg, a long time practitioner and teacher has written that “we don’t watch our breath just to become good breath-watchers”. And I think this is true. We watch our breath because it is the basic practice, the vehicle through which we cultivate a mind that is focused, open and flexible. But we practice because the world could use more kindness, strength and clarity.