If you think “I just can’t be mindful” – this article is for you.
Ok so you’re not a meditation person, and can’t think of anything worse than trying to sit still focusing on your “feelings”. Seems stupid to try to have some kind of big experience when there’s so much going on and besides, it’s just boring. And all this talk about “accepting the moment”. Hey, things are bad in the world and my rent doesn’t get paid by “accepting” that I owe it. Stuff has to get done! Change needs to happen.
At the same time, there’s a lot of talk about mindfulness, blah blah blah and it would be good to be happier and enjoy life more. But it seems like everything you’ve tried just doesn’t work or isn’t “for you”. And you don’t want to ditch the moral outrage you have about the injustices in the world in order to find peace. What good is peace if you just bury your head in the sand?
I get it. I really do.
It’s a weird situation. When you start to watch your thoughts, frequently there is a voice that goes something like “dang it – there’s a thought!” or “What am I supposed to be doing”. Frequently this takes the form of self-criticism “I’m no good at this” or “I’m not doing it right”. When this happens and someone reports they have had this kind of experience, my response is “that’s fabulous! You already have enough mindfulness to see the kind of thoughts you’re having and report on them”. And it’s true. I say the same thing to people who start a class by saying “I’m not very mindful”. I’ll say “You may have more than realize! You have enough to know that you could benefit from it and are motivated enough to get to a class, so that’s saying a lot about not only your self-awareness, but you intend to do something to improve yourself”. This is often unexpected, and it’s fun for me to observe the different ways people respond to that. (An article for later – being mindful when someone says something nice to you).
There’s not a lot of magic in life (well actually there is, but that’s another post), but this is a nice trick you can use anytime. Simply ask yourself “am I mindful now?” – answer is always yes. If you weren’t mindful when you asked, you have to become mindful in order to answer the question.
Many people find it challenging to sit still. Others find the thought of willing yourself into disciplined practice of daily meditation an overwhelming experience, just too big to fit into an already busy life. Plus there’s so much information on what to do, and how to do it that it’s hard to know where to begin.
So here’s how.