Learning to Be Mindful
Think about learning to speak Spanish or play piano. Can you imagine?
Or, if this doesn't work, think about being better gardeners, better dog owners, better…
Some of us can be very hard on ourselves when we try to be better. We can have high expectations. And, it might be easy to compare ourselves to fluent Spanish speakers or the local dog whisperer.
As we engage in mindfulness practice, we might notice the same high expectations. We might secretly open our eyes during a mindfulness practice in class and think that everyone is doing it so much better.
Do you remember the ABC's? Didn't they seem impossible at first? 26 letters. Wow! And, yet, all of us know the ABC's by heart. How did this happen? Well, it took a willing mind. A teacher. Practice. Lots of kindness from our teachers, parents, and ourselves. And, then, we began recalling bits and pieces. More practice and kindness until finally we could recite the entire alphabet-all 26 letters!
Mindfulness is no different.
As you practice, remember to be gentle, caring, compassionate, humane, considerate, and sympathetic toward yourself. That's important enough to repeat: Remember to be gentle, caring, compassionate, humane, considerate and sympathetic toward yourself.
Mindfulness is not easy. Watching our minds/bodies/ feelings may be the most difficult job ever. Don't beat yourself up, particularly if you think you "are failing." This is a learning process.
A Few Words of Wisdom
As playwright Samuel Becket said, "Try again, fail again, fail better."
Author Cheryl Wilfong draws on the gardener's wisdom: "The first year they sleep. The second year they creep. The third year they leap."
Good things take time, practice and kindness. And if it all seems dismal, remember teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn's dictum, "If you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong."
Or, take this poem by Rev. Samuel Trumbore:
You'll Get There!
Take comfort grasshopper,
You've tasted enough
to know the meal is delicious.
Your feet are firmly on the path.
When will you get there, you ask?
Just a matter of time.
Whether one, or seven or a hundred or a thousand lives
your time will come.
And what is that in the grand scheme of things?
A blink of the eye in astronomic measurements.
So relax. Watch the next breath.
Live the practice in nibbles
stringing them together.
Keep calmly knowing change.
Keep asking, "What's happening...now?"