We know that mindfulness is good for us, but there’s a perception that practicing it is incredibly challenging.
“I’m sure this is great, but it’s just not for me – I can’t do it.”
Fear of failure keeps us from trying new things and from doing our very best, but the truth is, failure is just a word. It does not have to mean forever. We can redefine “failure” to mean “excellent attempt, try again.”
“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” G.K. Chesterton
It will take several attempts to find the mindfulness practice that works for you. Don’t lose faith that it will be worthy of your time. The practice of facing and overcoming its challenges is valuable itself, increasing your resilience to challenges to your other goals.
If you struggle to stick to fitness and diet plans, mindfulness will be a great support for you. It will remind you that change does not have to be all or nothing, and develop your ability to observe changes in your body without judgment.
We are always trying to do everything all at once. Eating is one of those activities that go hand-in-hand with watching TV or working. With your next meal, try single-tasking and just eating, with no screens or distractions. That means sitting down (at a table!), putting food on a plate or bowl, and using utensils not our hands. Make eating feel like and occasion.
Another way to foster this feeling is to eat with others. Plan a few mindfulness meals each month, scheduled at specific times and places. Invite your friends and family. Gather, eat and have face-to-face conversations, practicing active listening. Develop healthy connections with your dinner partners, and slow your pace of eating to align with your body’s personal hunger signals.
Try this: Take a raisin and place it on your tongue. Roll it around. Feel its texture. Gently press the raisin up against the roof of your mouth, without chewing. Keep all of your focus on the raisin. Notice how the texture and flavor changes over time. How do you feel? Chew gently and meaningfully.
If you’ve wanted to try mindfulness, but just can’t get yourself to be still, perhaps you should try moving mindfulness.
Try this: While practicing yoga or stretching, before and after a workout, notice where you feel muscles stretching, where you sense resistance and tightness, and where you feel spaciousness; without judging the sensations. While walking, try taking 10-15 steps, and then pause to focus your attention on one or more sensations that you would normally take for granted. Stand still for a moment, close your eyes, and lean on one leg with your weight. Feel the gravity. Repeat with the other leg.
The breath is the perfect object to focus on, because it’s with you wherever you go – in the waiting room, standing in line, in moments that you would usually take out your phone, and mindlessly scroll. Don’t avoid negative thoughts and stress. Use mindfulness to engage with them and recognize their impermanence.
Try this: This ancient Buddhist practice is suitable for all. Follow the breath at the tip of your nostrils, warm air in, cool air out, counting 1 to 10. When you lose count, bring your focus back to your breath, and start counting again at 1; until you can count to 10 without distraction.
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