This weekend marked the beginning of a year-long journey to deepen my mindfulness practice. The practice of learning to be more present for each moment of life.
I’m undertaking this training with the Mindfulness Association in Glasgow. This initial weekend together we were guided by our two highly skilled teachers to explore intentions and motivations for the practice, techniques to draw on and supports to help settle the mind. Yet the greatest learning of all was the importance of holding the practice with compassion and kindness.
It turns out that when we learn to stop and see, we might not always like what we see. We might simply experience a very distracted mind. One that jumps from thought to thought. Barely able to find stillness for even one full breath. We might glimpse our own judgmental mind. Our guilt or shame.
Unless we meet what we see in our practice with a gentleness and compassion, it will only lead to further judgement and self-criticism. We shame ourselves for “being rubbish at meditating” or “being a bad person”. Not helpful at all.
Instead when we can bring kindness and understanding towards ourselves and what we see. We begin to treat ourselves as we would treat someone we love. We nourish ourselves and our practice can deepen. Each time our attention wanders, we notice it and quite simply bring our attention back to the practice. No judgement. No analysis. No story about what’s happened. Just a gentleness. A kindness. An act of self-love.
And just like the physical practice of yoga on the mat. We practice doing this over and over and over again on the meditation cushion. As many times as the mind wanders (and boy does it wander!!). And as we practice kindness towards ourselves. We learn to be kinder to others. We learn to bring more compassion to all areas of our lives. Win, win, win.