“Finding a comfortable position. Sitting in a dignified balanced manner. Bringing the awareness into the body. Noticing your breath.“your mindfulness teacher
Some days I get this type of opening guidance and then immediately, bam! The mind and I are miles away scraping over the past or diving into the future. I am not observing, witnessing or noticing any part of my breath or my body or any sound whatsoever. I am detached from the present pretty all the way though until the bell sounds at the end. There was no mindfulness to speak of during any of that time. So was there a point to all that? Was a step made in the right direction, any truth more clearly understood? Or was it all a bloody waste of time?
I have had many experiences like this over the years; at the end I would find myself standing up at the least annoyed with myself and sometimes questioning my own ability to be practice meditation at all. Yet no one really seems to say much about such sessions. Its all sitting on a beach in front of the sunset, tanned and thin in the mindfulness memes. Whereas for me its more a case of on a cushion on my bedroom floor, in front of the hung out washing, overweight and in a dressing gown.
I think there are two better ways to view this, both of which entail bringing a broader view to the practice. Firstly, just a simple looking for silver linings to give yourself a boost: it isn’t all just rubbish after all. Secondly, is holding the intention to sit again tomorrow, to aim to reconnect next time. From this determination grows a practice that becomes part of the daily routine and out of a continuation of intention naturally grows a broader, wiser view of what mindfulness might be or already is. In terms of knowledge this breaks down into 4 areas.
- There is always the next meditation session. This is what happened today and it is over now. It cannot be changed. But you can be mindful of how you feel after it, noticing the emotions and thoughts and maybe physical sensations that you are experiencing now.
- When the bell rang at the end, you were aware of that moment, even if of no other and so there was mindfulness there.
- Among a whole series of sitting practices, today’s one can be seen as one distraction, one disconnect and only one before coming back to the breath in the next practice.
- More importantly, meditation and mindfulness are about seeing what is really is; the stuff we try to hide from all our friends and family and of course from ourselves. So if we are sitting honestly we will notice the ugly and the bad as least as much as the good.