IF YOU FEEL DRAWN TO MINDFULNESS PRACTICE
Kevin Berrill, LCSW
Try to meditate consistently
As you may know from learning a sport, a musical instrument, or a foreign language, the more you practice, the stronger and more skilled you become. To the extent you can, try to meditate regularly--daily, if possible. But if regular practice isn't possible, meditate where and when you can.
Choose an amount of time right for you
If you are a beginner, try ten minutes once or twice a day. Increase the length of time you practice gradually. Settle on a time frame that you can realistically commit to on a daily basis.
Choose a place to meditate where you are less likely to be disturbed
You can meditate anywhere, but it's easier to do in a place where you will have a modicum of peace and quiet. If your life permits, choose a time when you are unlikely to be interrupted.
Practice mindfulness in all areas of your life
Remember that mindfulness is a way of like; it's not just meditating. We can bring compassionate presence to anything, including washing the dishes, driving, writing, going to the bathroom, petting the cat, eating, texting, or participating in a meeting.
Be kind and patient with yourself
Notice how you engage with mindfulness practice. If there a quality of striving and self-improvement? Is it one more thing on your "To-Do" list? Sometimes meditators are critical of themselves for not being "better" at the practice or for not meditating often enough. If you become aware that your practice has a driven quality, or is drudgery, or that you are avoiding, it can be helpful to mindfully explore those feelings. See if you can reframe this practice as an opportunity to be intimate with life rather than a project or something to feel guilty about.
In addition to the practice of mindfulness, there are numerous other gateways for waking up and living compassionately. If you are looking for other practices to ground and sustain you, I recommend you explore metta, or lovingkindness, meditation which has its purpose opening the heart towards oneself and others. There are also body practices such as Tai Chi, yoga, and exercise, as well as spending time in nature. Many people also find tremendous benefit from participating in a faith community or some sort of activity that serves others and promotes social justice. Find "a path with a heart" and explore where it leads you.
Kevin Berrill, LCSW, guides clients in Midweek Mindfulness every Wednesday at noon. Midweek Mindfulness is one of the most popular programs offered at Ann's Place. Kevin's approach to healing and growth is to help clients identify strengths, reflect on what matters most in life, find practical solutions to problems, relax through imagery and breath and cultivate mindful awareness and compassion.