It may have been some time since you've been to a sitting group or even since you practiced any mindfulness, or you may have developed a regular mindfulness practice and have realised how helpful that can be in responding, in increasingly more helpful ways, to the stuff that comes up in our daily lives.
You will undoubtedly remember how easy it is for the mind to wander off during a practice to something more interesting or exciting or painful. Well it's the same when we think about sitting down to practise mindfulness. There is always something which our mind views as more exciting, colourful or important to attend to.
Pausing and sitting with the breath or body for a few minutes, in the midst of our busy lives, just doesn't have the same pull. And yet it may be precisely the thing which may ultimately allow us to live our lives with a bit more understanding, freedom and happiness.
The fact that you are still reading this may suggest that somewhere deep down, as you recollect what you learnt during your 8 week course or tune in to how your body feels right now, the truth of that statement.
We need no training for our minds to be drawn off to things that seem more important to be doing- we've evolved to be on the lookout for trouble, but it often just adds to that very same trouble we are trying to get away from.
We do, however, need to train the mind if we want to have a little bit more say in how we respond to what comes up in our lives.
And that's what Mindfulness is- a training programme to develop more helpful habits of mind.
This week I will be looking in bit more detail at the quote from Viktor Frankl- "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our power to choose our response. And in our response, lies our growth and our freedom."
When we practice mindfulness we slow down the busyness of our minds which allows us the possibility to see the patterns of our minds and maybe to find that space where we can move from reacting automatically to responding appropriately, which is what all of this is really about. We will explore the evolutionary processes that have led us to react in this way.....it's not our fault. But that doesn't mean we are powerless. We can do something about it.
If you're practice has wandered off for a while, unless you stop and look, it may be difficult to notice the negative thoughts associated with that...maybe " I should have practiced more" or " I couldn't possibly go back after all this time" or " They're all so much better at it than me".
The natural tendency of these negative reactions is to withdraw or freeze...remember that fight/flight/ freeze response to stressful stimuli?
Or you could decide to be a little kinder to yourself, to recognise that this isn't easy, that just like our minds wandering off, our practice can wander off to. And then choose to do something different. Like coming along for a refresher mindfulness session. We all need a little reminder of what's important from time to time.
We always have the possibility to start again. In this moment. To consider what might be a more helpful response than those old habits that we may have practiced time and time again.
So if you'd like to remind yourself about mindfulness, or to further your understanding of how finding this space can lead to you relating more helpfully to yourself and those around you, you'd be most welcome.
Hope to see you at West View on Thursday 6.30-8.30.