3 Steps to Start your Mindfulness Practice
If you are just starting a mindfulness practice or looking to sustain or rebuild one,
there are so many wonderful practices and nowadays so many resources to help you on your journey, but…where to start?
I am sharing my 3-prong approach (in no particular order):
support of a group, education, personal practice (small nuggets, explained below)
1. My first gateway was through group experience (t’ai chi and yoga classes). I learned the physical form from teachers and fellow yogis while having their emotional support and guidance. Today, my group involvement comes in many forms with Kundalini yoga classes, meditation & spiritual discussion groups. I belong to three different groups which meet on a weekly and some on a bi-weekly basis. The experiences and friendships formed in these groups have been so important to me. I suggest finding similar meetups in your area. How? I found two of them through yoga studios and the other through meetup.com. And, my hope is that this blog will create a community to support you.
2. Find a teacher that speaks to you. As I practiced more in a group, I wanted to learn more about the different practices, teachings and philosophies. I have read,
attended retreat and taken online courses with Tara Brach. I also have friends who listen to Tara on her podcasts. Jack Kornfield taught the course with Tara and I found his approach and teachings immensely helpful as well. While I have not read any of her books or podcasts yet, I did meet Sharon Salzman and heard her speak at the Mindful Life conference last year and she is very engaging. I also have read and embraced the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.
“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
These teachers are a few in the vast body of knowledge out there. I simply share my personal experience. If you would like to know more about what inspired me in each of their teachings or if you would like to share some other teachers/mentors, please comment!
3. Personal practice. From personal experience, starting to sit and meditate to begin your journey can be challenging. I suggest the small nugget approach. I have no idea if this is a formal term but I use this with my students with success (according to their feedback).
Small Nuggets approach:
Throughout your day create checkpoints: right after you turn off the alarm, before opening the fridge, turning car on/off, before making a phone call, while sitting at the bus stop or before a meal.
Checkpoints = Stop and Breathe
Start with 3 full belly breaths at each of your personal designated points throughout your day. Think Small ( not a phrase you hear often). Maybe 3 points (1 for morning, afternoon, evening).
Consistency is key. Start small and be consistent with your practice vs. trying to do too much at first.
As you become more mindful and more relaxed, then add more, either checkpoints and/or number of breaths). Be Careful not too have your goal too high. You want to accomplish your goals and reinforce positive thinking. If you start with a lofty goal and cannot achieve it, then frustration will be the result.
Create your 3-prong approach.
Again, Think Small. Maybe 1 prong. Maybe 3?
If going with 3, stick to no more than 1 practice/activity per prong.
Share. Please share your journey, your successes, your challenges, your questions with your new Mindful Buddies J