Article written by Samantha Akers, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, Certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher.
In my years of teaching yoga and mindfulness meditation, I hear from students, “I can’t practice mindfulness meditation. My mind is too busy.” This has given me pause to ask myself, why is it that people believe that to be mindful or to meditate, the mind must be immediately or even often, calm? This may be perhaps because we see photos of meditators looking peaceful and calm. But is this really what’s occurring when we first sit down to meditate?
The good news is, not likely! So why do we meditate?
We train in mindfulness and meditation to calm the mind. To become more aware of our physical, emotional and cognitive experiences. But first, we must train in settling the mind. My mind was certainly not calm when I first began to practice.
I often liken mindfulness meditation to running a marathon. I would not decide to run a marathon without training. If I did try this, it would not be successful. I would injure myself and feel that running was just not for me. But would this be accurate? Perhaps if I slowly, through the steps of training, conditioned my body to run short distances, I would grow to enjoy running and might even become skilled enough to try out a marathon.
This likely makes sense to you so why do we have the belief that we should be able to sit right down, experience a calm mind and body, when meditating?
There is a very helpful map we can follow that guides us through the steps of getting to know the body, the heart, the mind and the pleasant or unpleasant states of experiences. Through time and practice, we begin to see the impermanent nature of our experiences and therefore, become less interested in holding onto particular feelings, beliefs… etc. We begin to experience the body, heart and energies of the mind as sensations and not really, so personal.
This is a relief! And with this relief, we realize that the mind is settling. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but we also see that this is ever changing. This is the freedom that is possible through mindfulness meditation training.
Anyone and everyone can become more mindful, aware and awake. (If I can, you can!)
Join me (Samantha Akers) in exploring these steps to developing mindfulness. Breath by breath, moment by moment, one loving and kind step at a time in my Intro to Mindfulness class, you will learn the training steps to developing a mindfulness practice. Article written by Samantha Akers, C-IAYT Yoga Therapist, E-RYT 500, Soma Yoga Institute Faculty , Certified Mindfulness Teacher and founder of https://www.sitbelove.org/.
More information about Intro to Mindfulness with Sam can be found here.