Beginning a Mindfulness Practice

Part of what’s so essential here is understanding that this isn’t just about teaching this to others if you’re a clinician.It’s important that we do thispractice ourselves.This is how we become teachers,is that we’ve… we have our own personal practice. Like with every new behavior change, um, repetition is really helpful. And in the beginning,
it might feel that when you start
mindfulness practice, it’s like just another chore
that you have to fit into
your already very full day. We often compare it
with exercise, so you know exercise is good for you,
and you know you have to do it in order to really reap
the benefits of exercise. And you know that it doesn’t
always feel good, so sometimesyou don’t want to do it,
sometimes while you do it,
you ask yourself why you’re
spending all this time on this,
but you keep doing it because
you know it really helps you.With mindfulness practice,
it’s very similar.
So we do it, and we often say,
you don’t have to like it;
you just have to do it.And that, again, it goes
away from this idea that whenever you meditate,
you feel relaxed, and it’s wonderful,
or you’re in a blissful state. You’re not.
Very often, it’s really… it’s tedious and your mind
is all over the place, or you might feel actually
quite stressed in that moment. And that is fine. It will still change the way
you feel in life in general, and it will still change
how you respond in situations. There’s a lot of judgments
that happen here. So bring a sense of compassionate curiosity to this experience. What’s going to come up? What’s going to be revealed
in this moment here? What is really helpful to support
your mindfulness practice is to find a time during the day
that works for you. For a lot of people, it helps to do it
at the beginning of the day. Some people do it,
they drive to work and then just sit in the car
before they walk in. To do it for five or ten minutes
can be helpful. It can be during lunch break. It can be at the end of the day
if you’re not too tired. So, in the beginning, it might
need some experimentation to find out
what really works for you. And then just keep on
doing that, and make it something
that you do every day. So if you combine it with
something that you already do, it can be helpful. It can also be very helpful
to actually do it in the same place
every day, because we have something
that we call “muscle memory” or “body memory,”
so your body will remember. So you get into your chair
at the same time of the day and your body will say, like,
“Ooh, we’re meditating now,” and that will be helpful. So part of what
we’re doing with this practice–
the same posture, the same time,
the same place– it doesn’t always
have to be that way, but we’re doing something
called “stimulus control.” So we’re linking a posture
to a practice over and over, and over time, just like the dog
salivating with the bell, we can sometime feel
a great sense of relief from the disengagement
from the ruminative mind. So, nowadays, we’re very lucky because there are a lot
of resources out there where you can learn mindfulness. The best thing, we think, is to find a groupwith a teacherthat is in your area,because we find that peoplereally learn the bestin a grouplearning from each other.But if you don’t have that,there are also a lotof online resources now.You can even do online classes,sometimes even now with videolike with Google Hangoutor Skype.You can learn from books.There are a lot of freeresources also on audiowhere you can downloadguided meditations.It’s really wonderful now.And we also haveprovided you a list of resources
that you can check out. We can aim our attention well.
It’s hard to sustain it, but we work on this with our
practice moment by moment. Captioned by
Media Access Group at WGBH

Jerry Heath

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