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On mindfulness

One of the things I'm working on this year is daily meditation.

I suck at it.

But I'm working on it.

One of the types of meditation that I find appealing is mindfulness meditation. My beloved seems to have developed an interest in it as well, in part because one of his tai chi students keeps sending him intriguing links.

If meditation - any form of meditation - is something you know about and/or can recommend resources on, please do so in the comments. Meanwhile, I'll be trying to be more like the dog in this comic that my sweetheart sent me:



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( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
beckylevine
Jan. 8th, 2013 02:20 am (UTC)
I bet I suck at it more than you suck at it. :)

The only way I've really been able to be at all "mindful" is in my yoga classes. Which is why I love them. I have an awesome studio, and I have basically taken enough classes to find the teachers that do yoga at the slow pace I need. (The level of strength & flexibility, too, but that's another subject.) I need the slow pace, because it takes me a while to get INTO each pose, and if I try and go faster, not only do I not make it into the post, but I get no time to BE there. When I am in and settled, then I can sink into my breathing and my mindfulness.

I think, at this point, the yoga helps, because there is SOMETHING going on. My body is working, even a little bit, and my mind is targeted at that body. The teachers talk about sending your mind to the tight place or the sore place and breathing into it. This, for me, is the closest I get to true mindfulness. It's especially great in Yin and Restorative classes, in which the poses are very supported and soft and held for longer periods of time.

Someday, I'll make it to mindfulness without yoga. For now, I'm just treasuring the feeling when I get there in class.

And, BTW, Kelly--SO nice to have you back blogging and to be back myself--so thanks again for the prod.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 8th, 2013 05:32 pm (UTC)
Becky, I know just what you mean about being mindful during exercise. I am okay at it when I do yoga, and pretty good at it while doing tai chi, which requires enough concentration on the sequence of moves (what's next? how is it done right?) to occupy enough of the brain to blot out the rest of the world and focus only on what I'm doing. Most classes I manage it just fine, although occasionally something happens (someone walks in late, or someone starts talking, etc.) that pulls me out of the zone. Still, it's great for that.

I read an interesting article at Prevention Magazine.com about three ways to incorporate mindfulness into eating, walking, and going to bed, and am happy to report that the bed thing (at least) worked well for me.

And I'm very glad that you are back to blogging!!
beckylevine
Jan. 8th, 2013 09:13 pm (UTC)
I SO need it for bedtime. Off to read.
ex_kmessner
Jan. 8th, 2013 02:29 am (UTC)
We're fans of Wild Divine software (and hardware, too...there's actually a biofeedback system that you can hook up to your computer to practice calming meditation). There's also an app from Meditation Oasis called (don't laugh) iSleep Easy that has a great collection of sleep meditations, focusing on mindfulness.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 8th, 2013 05:32 pm (UTC)
I'll have to look into the techy stuff you've recommended - thanks, Kate!
lizjonesbooks
Jan. 8th, 2013 02:44 am (UTC)
I do most of my meditation on the elliptical. It's surprisingly soothing, and it keeps my pulse rate out of the stratosphere.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 8th, 2013 05:33 pm (UTC)
Sounds excellent. Most of my mindfulness meditation accompanies my tai chi practice, but I'm trying to expand past that.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 8th, 2013 02:46 am (UTC)
I found the book QUIET MIND, edited by Susan Piver, a wonderful place to start. It includes short, introductory essays on six types of meditation (Shamatha, Viassana, Zazen, Metta, Tonglen, and Healing Meditation) and comes with a CD of guided meditations.

Susan also has a lot of resources at her website, susanpiver.com

And I've found Jack Kornfield's Meditation for Beginners, which also comes with a short, guided meditations, a great resource, too.

The most beautiful thing about meditation, for me, is that you CAN'T suck at it. You can't. You can be a beginner, and be practicing, but you can't suck. Because the instruction is always to be gentle with yourself, encouraging with yourself, and, when you drift, simply begin again.

Good luck, Kelly!

Loree
kellyrfineman
Jan. 8th, 2013 05:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks again, Loree, for these recommendations. I'll be making a trip to the book store soon!
beckylevine
Jan. 8th, 2013 09:16 pm (UTC)
Debbi's list of books reminded me of one on my shelf that I need to get back to. It's got a bit of a specific focus, but--heck--maybe it's the same focus we all need. It's called THE MINDFUL WAY THROUGH ANXIETY, by Susan M. Orsillo and Lizabeth Roemer. Well-written, as far as I've gotten. Anyone else notice how we put the books down as soon as everything's going swimmingly? :)
kellyrfineman
Jan. 9th, 2013 04:42 pm (UTC)
So true!
blaiderunner
Jan. 9th, 2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
Seconding Susan Piver's introductory materials. I first encountered her instruction on Shamatha meditation through her book, "How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life." It came with a CD, too. Great stuff.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 9th, 2013 10:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the recommendation!
jessica_shea
Jan. 8th, 2013 03:44 am (UTC)
This is something I'd like to work on more, too. Please report back if you find something helpful! So far, like Becky, I'm most successful at mindfulness in yoga - but it's been ages since I've taken a class.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 8th, 2013 05:34 pm (UTC)
Like you and Becky, I'm most successful at mindfulness while exercising, although it's tai chi that works best for me. Still, I'm hoping to expand past that. Will keep you posted!
slatts
Jan. 8th, 2013 12:01 pm (UTC)
Mind FULL... yup, I'm not the dog.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 8th, 2013 05:34 pm (UTC)
Oh dear!
d_michiko_f
Jan. 8th, 2013 01:01 pm (UTC)
First off - no judging! No saying you suck at it. ;) It's called a "practice" for a reason. Hugs! Some days are easier than others. Some days I spend the entire meditation time thinking "am i done yet???" ;) Some days I have to bring my mind back a hundred times in 5 minutes.

I'm no expert, far from, but I've been reading about and practicing mindful meditation for a little over a year now. And recently have gotten into Svaroopa yoga (which is a style of meditation, not exercise), and love it.

Some of my favorite books I've read on mindfulness and meditation:
A Gradual Awakening by Stephen Levine
Beyond Happiness by Ezra Bayda
Peace is in Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
LOVING-KINDNESS: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg
Happiness is an Inside Job by Sylvia Boorstein

Enjoy your journey!
kellyrfineman
Jan. 8th, 2013 05:35 pm (UTC)
"It's called a 'practice' for a reason." Well thank heavens for that!

Thank you for all the recommendations. I've added them to my list!
d_michiko_f
Jan. 8th, 2013 05:51 pm (UTC)
I blogged about the books on my post today on LJ. :) Thanks for the inspiration!
kellyrfineman
Jan. 9th, 2013 04:43 pm (UTC)
Ooh - looking forward to reading it!
beckylevine
Jan. 8th, 2013 09:15 pm (UTC)
Debbi, I'm copying your list and looking them up!
d_michiko_f
Jan. 10th, 2013 11:23 am (UTC)
I hope to find an eastern bookstore or resource somewhere out here so I can get back to browsing for books. It's hard to do online!
(Anonymous)
Jan. 8th, 2013 06:30 pm (UTC)
tanita says...
Oh, suckiness. I suck at meditation, badly. I can't even do yoga.

Recently I tried doing floatation therapy - basically you lie in a light-free box of epsom-salted water, and float. It's so buoyant, you literally rest with no tactile sensations anywhere, there's no feeling of anything - you're suppoed to be able to return to the womb. It's supposed to be like flying. I read this great piece in the Utne Reader on it, and I thought, "I think I want to do that."

Apparently I was born with a pleat between my brows and a scowl. I can't DO IT. I float all right - physic still works - but for the rest... I actually lost contact with part of my body ONCE - but I usually have an itch or a thought, or I think it's too dark or too this or that, and thinkthinkthink... and the meditative everything shatters. Yes, it's practice, just like everything else, and it's a process. But, I loathe that I suck. I'm going to the Prevention piece you talked about to check it out... and I guess I'll keep trying.

Apparently this is a topic a lot of us are grappling with!

kellyrfineman
Jan. 9th, 2013 04:45 pm (UTC)
Re: tanita says...
I am somewhat surprised how many of us are working on this, in a variety of ways. And how many of us are not doing so well at it - although Debbi has a point: we aren't supposed to judge ourselves. Just keep on keeping on.
writerjenn
Jan. 9th, 2013 12:42 am (UTC)
There's a book I got from the library once that remains the best, simplest, and clearest thing I ever read on meditation--it also led me to direct action. I've tried to remember exactly what it was, and I think I've found it on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Encouraging-Words-Robert-Aitken/dp/067941701X/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1357691589&sr=1-15

This is also one of my favorites:

http://www.amazon.com/Only-Dont-Know-Selected-Teaching/dp/1570624321/ref=pd_sim_b_2

The writings of Thich Nhat Hanh are also pretty good. I subscribe to The Mindfulness Bell and have some back issues if you want them:
http://mindfulnessbell.org/
kellyrfineman
Jan. 9th, 2013 04:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jenn! I will add your suggestions (here and in the next comment) to my burgeoning list!
writerjenn
Jan. 9th, 2013 12:48 am (UTC)
Oh, found that book I was looking for! It's by the same guy who wrote ENCOURAGING WORDS, but it's very basic and practical. It's an excellent starting point:

http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Path-Zen-Robert-Aitken/dp/0865470804/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357692297&sr=8-1&keywords=aitken+Taking+the+Path
readingtothecore.wordpress.com
Jan. 10th, 2013 03:51 am (UTC)
Mindfulness
Love the comic! I too am not the dog. Thanks for sharing.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 10th, 2013 02:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Mindfulness
It is harder than one thinks to be the dog!
poolhallace
Jan. 10th, 2013 10:10 pm (UTC)
My mind simply refuses to slow down. I'll start out trying to meditate and all will be going well when suddenly I start thinking, Hmmm....whats that clicking noise? Did I take the clothes out of the dryer? I wonder if I have eggs. Maybe we'll have pancakes for dinner. I'm the worst at this stuff!! Better luck to you!!
kellyrfineman
Jan. 11th, 2013 01:31 am (UTC)
Your post has reminded me of What is that mysterious ticking noise?. Because that's how my mind works.

Perhaps this post from Prevention Magazine will help you get started. I've tried two of them (walking and bedtime) and they seem to work fairly well!
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )

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