21 Jun A Mindfulness Practice by Anna McClelland, LMFT
When I started my meditation practice, I thought it was going to help me “relax’. Like sitting 20 minutes a day for a week was going to be a reasonable substitute for that yearly tropical vacation. (yay! Save some money and become enlightened). I don’t think so! Here’s a secret- Mindfulness practice is NOT relaxing- especially not at first.
No one tells you how hard it is to “sit” and observe yourself. It takes a lot of discipline to incorporate the habit and practice, but, if you do, it will change your life. Don’t get me wrong, it won’t change your life in a “hammock on the beach” kind of a way, but, if you do it long enough, you will learn to avoid getting caught up in all the thoughts and feelings that create so much of your suffering. You will become more psychologically flexible and you will see the positive effect it has on your mood and your relationships. Mindfulness practice grounds you in the present and increases your sense of well-being by training you to tolerate and appreciate ALL your feelings.
Cultivating a mindfulness practice when in recovery is essential. The more tools a person in recovery has to manage feelings and gain some perspective and insight into their thoughts the better. I encourage all my client’s to meditate and practice mindfulness.
If you are having trouble keeping a consistent mindfulness practice, here are a few tips:
- Find community. Find a group to meditate with at least 1x a week (Against the Stream, Insight LA).
- Go big- Get inspired by getting some accessories (incense, a bell, a Zafar and Zabuton (meditation cushion and matt) etc..).
- Find a spot in your house that is quiet and make it “your official mindfulness spot”.
- Sit in the morning or evening and keep on a consistent schedule.
- Practice informal mindfulness (anytime you are not doing a designated meditation). We have busy days so practice mindfulness driving or mindfulness eating or mindfulness walking.
- Read some books on Mindfulness (Jon Kabat Zin, Thich Nhat Hanh, Charlotte Joko Beck to name a few authors).
- Listen to some dharma talks (Dharma Seed. Insight LA website – audio section)- they are inspiring.
I know it’s hard at first, but stick with it and I promise you won’t regret it!