I started doing yoga years ago, and even though I enjoyed it, I almost gave up. Why? Because everyone kept on telling me that the more I did the more flexible I would become. Still, I did yoga class after yoga class and I still didn’t feel myself getting that much more flexible. And then, one day, I had a teacher who said that some people, like runners (me), just weren’t that flexible and we just had to do the best we could do. Ok, that wasn’t exactly what she said, but whatever it was made be feel that I wasn’t doing something “wrong” that was keep me from being a human pretzel. It was just how my body was made.
Mindful meditation is a bit like that for me, as well. I figured that it was just something I would never be able to do because thoughts were always popping into my head. But the thing is — that’s okay. Noticing that they are there is part of being mindful. So instead if giving up and saying, this isn’t for me, you need to acknowledge these thoughts and return to focusing on your breathing.
In practicing mindful meditation, I’ve found that it’s best to start small. A recent article in Time (That Art of Being Mindful) suggested sitting cross-legged and focusing on your breathing for 10 minutes a day and building from there. To tell you the truth, 10 minutes is still a bit long for me at this point.
If you’re like me, and find it hard to sit still for 10 minutes, I think the key is to just start. Even if it is 3 minutes a day, that is more than you were doing before. Then build from there. I haven’t made it to 10 uninterrupted minutes a day, but I do find myself taking time to focus on my breathing,
The article also gave 3 mindful tips. The first is to wear a watch, the idea being you won’t look at your phone so much and be distracted by what you see, or can do, there. I always wear a watch and that is one of the reasons I do.
The second one is no phones in bed. I would take that further and say in the bedroom — unless you’re on call or something like that and have to always have your phone nearby. The idea behind this is that you should be fully awake before you look at any devices.
The third, which I know works, is to get into nature. It’s kind of hard to do that and not find yourself observing your surroundings, unless you’re texting or talking on your phone, that is.