One of the things I love the most about mindfulness practice is this duality between the idea that we need to train our minds and build skills and get somewhere, and the conflicting idea that we are to accept ourselves as we are, love ourselves, and offer ourselves compassion. That everything we are is OK, that we have enough, and we are enough. There seems to be a tension between these ideas, but it really only lies in the intellectual realm. When you actually practice mindfulness, you’ll find you can walk this line quite skillfully.
A 10-Minute Practice to Fully Experience the Present
- Start by finding a comfortable position. I like to think of myself as embodying my intention for the practice in the way I hold my body: I intend to do nothing, but with a sense of presence, awareness, and relaxation.
- Take a breath or two to let go of whatever came before this practice, and whatever may come after. You may close your eyes, or keep them open, finding a spot to focus your gaze.
- When you’re ready, let go of any kind of intention to change anything about what you’re experiencing in this moment. Drop the resistance and let it happen. If you find yourself naturally gravitating to another practice you do—paying attention to the breath, or sounds, or saying an affirmation—let that be a part of your natural state in this moment.
- You may also notice yourself feeling uncomfortable. Maybe you’re tired, drowsy, or getting bored already. Maybe you’re caught up in racing thoughts about all the challenges we’re facing. Whatever it is you’re noticing, in this practice, there’s no need to fight any of it. Just let it happen, in a radical act of self-acceptance.
- Maybe you notice some external experience, like your neighbours are banging on the wall, or your roommate or spouse is speaking loudly in the other room. Embrace that as part of the meditation, and accept it as part of your experience in this moment. This is exactly what it’s like to be you in this moment. All we’re doing here is dropping the fight and accepting completely, just to see what happens. Bring a sense of curiosity. What happens when you fully do nothing, and let things be as they are?
- Often when we’re trying to take a break, that idea of taking a break can be pretty effortful. We can find ourselves trying really hard to relax, to stop thinking, to enjoy something. But is that really a break?
- In this practice, we are not trying to do anything. Maybe you are thinking. What happens when you just let that happen? Maybe you’re not enjoying this meditation, or you find yourself confused. You can let it happen.
- Sometimes our self-care routine—whether it’s exercise, mindfulness, or something else—becomes an entry on our task list that we’re trying to check off in our already overwhelmed lives. That can be a useful framing, but sometimes it can take over and we lose track of being present without striving to change something. Let’s refresh our intention, start again, and spend this time truly just being here, without any attempt to change anything about what we’re experiencing. For this next minute, anything you’re experiencing is OK exactly the way it is.
- Take this last moment to let go of the practice. At your own pace, see if you can carry forward whatever insight you discovered into whatever’s coming next in your day. A sense of balancing on the tightrope between striving to be better, to do better, to help yourself, to help others, to take care of yourself, to get that task done—with the sense of just being ok with the way things are. Especially in challenging situations, this can be a very difficult line to walk. I encourage you to keep this practices to balance out the more goal-directed practices in your routine.
Amanda Hester, Director of Operations and Business Development at Mindful, explores why mindfulness is key to sitting with feelings of shame and blame. Read More