The end of the summer is all around and I find myself shaking my head and repeating the statement to friends and neighbours, "I can't believe the summer is over, it whizzed by so fast" . I can't help but wonder, is this is what we do at the end of each summer? Perhaps, this year, it might be wise to pay attention to this whizzing by of time, use it as a sample of how quickly the sands of time slip through our fingers and out of our reach. We should consider how this sample of time represents how finite our life is and how we more then ever need to be present for each moment. How we need to be there for our families, and friends and make the changes to our lives that need to made starting right now, not when everything is ready or just so. The summer is almost over and in my case I had not seen my family enough. My children had not seen their cousins. I made a few changes to my schedule so that we could go and see my sisters and my father. The gathering of little cousins was heartwarming.
The oldest of the cousin collective was only 7 years and so they straight away started to play and laugh, chatter and stuck into toys. They had no pre-set judgements, no complicated history between them, they were absorbed in their play and when they fell, they acknowledged it and moved on quickly. The adult siblings in the parallel room did their best to listen to each other and pay attention to each other's needs and find the compassion to give each other the benefit of the doubt despite the complicated histories, pre-set judgements and ideals.
Visiting your old home where you grew up can very often be a trigger for difficult feelings. A short spell in the company of one of your parents or your siblings can sometimes be the catalyst to a downward spiral of negative thoughts about yourself and your life. Mindfulness and meditation has been the parachute for me for this pattern. I notice what is going on in my mind. I float down through the usual thoughts and feelings and I know that they not me. I check in with myself. I breathe mindfully for 3 minutes and I am home.
After the visit, grateful for my family, I drive home 170 miles to meditation stool! Remembering that I can be a committed and dedicated person and not to listen to the self doubt! reminding myself that I am developing a trait of being mindful and acknowledging that I am taking care of myself so that I can be better for others, I sit down and happily let go.
Here are 5 great tips from Lucid Living about how to keep up your practice.
One of the most challenging bits about meditation is to actually establish a regular practice. Here are our five tips that will hopefully inspire you to start or to pick up your practice.
1. Find the right motivation & intention
Although you might not feel up for it every day, it is important to look at the ‘glass as half full’ as opposed to ‘half empty’. It can be helpful to remind yourself of why you are sitting, how it will benefit you, and enrich your life. Watch out for approaching your daily routine automatically, and take a moment to renew your intention to do something for your health and well-being. Remember that just like with most new things sometimes, before it get’s easy, things have to become more difficult. Keeping this in mind will help you to stay open and find forgiveness when everything appears to go pear-shaped.
2. Find the right attitude & attention
Mindfulness practice is not a competition or performance. There is no such thing as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ sitting but each practice will allow you to learn more about yourself, and to gain insight into how your very mind works. This in itself is a win, even though there might be days where it just feels, well, much less pleasant. It is important to keep in mind that what you are trying to do is not rigidly sticking to a task, such as observing your breath, but to become fluid in guiding your wandering attention back to the object of observation. Each moment holds a new opportunity for a new discovery.
3. Find the right time & timing
Sometimes five minutes with the right intention and right attention are much more useful than forty minutes half-hearted practice. Although this might not be news to you, there is still the nagging, competitive mind lurking in the back, condescendingly dismissing minimum times. Lose it, and start with what you can actually really sustain. This way you will have a much more rewarding experience rather than feeling you have “failed” over and over. Therefore, it is double important that you take one moment at the end of each session to really appreciate and acknowledge yourself for having taken the time to stick to your commitment to do something for your health and well-being.
4. Find the right spot & posture
Wherever you decide to practice, make sure that you are feeling safe, grounded and find a wakeful posture so that you provide for yourself the best possible conditions. Go ahead and get yourself your favourite cushion, chair, mat, blanket or block. Over the years there might be some days where you find yourself in a less than ideal environment, then the second best spot will do just fine. Whilst it is clearly vital that you find a place and posture that work for you, it is equally important not to put too much importance on either choice. What you are looking for is an open-hearted, curious approach to being with whatever the moment presents.
5. Find the right routine & stick to it!
Short and sweet, and probably most challenging: Whether you sit once a day or more often, perhaps just a few minutes or longer periods of time, find a minimum commitment which you can sustain every day for the rest of your life. Imagine yourself practicing on your birthday, New Years Eve, the day you do your taxes, your friend’s wedding, the day you buy the new car, your daughter’s graduation, the day you lose your job, your grandson’s birth… Stick to it. No excuses.
So, how about starting right now? You could close your computer, and start by taking a few mindful breaths…
Wherever you go, go with all your heart. ― Confucius