In my early 20s, I meditated for 40 minutes each day - 20 in the morning and 20 in the evening.
Then I went through a period of time when being still with my thoughts was agony. Struggling with a mix of depression and anxiety, I had to sit with an onslaught of self-attack. For a while I thought I was 'supposed' to just tough it out, and keep trying to let the painful thoughts pass by.
But eventually, my meditation practice did not seem to be helping, but rather making things worse. I took care of myself in other ways - therapy, medication, exercise - and I started feeling much better.
It's been 15 years since I meditated regularly, but I never gave up on mindfulness.
To me, mindfulness means being aware of what my mind is doing, noticing my thoughts and feeling. By noticing, I strengthen the ME that is not my mind, but the core ME that notices and chooses and creates my life.
As a full-time business owner and mom of two young boys, I have dedicated myself to finding the minimum necessary mindfulness practice that supports me in living a life I love.
A few years ago, I started reading a lot of Pema Chödrön (as one does...) and came across a simple daily practice that made me think, "I could TOTALLY do that!"
The practice is called, simply,
"One in the Beginning, and One in the End."
One in the Beginning: In the morning, you reflect on a single, simple, positive intention or aspiration for the day.
Not a 'goal' per se, like 'unload the dishwasher,' but a quality you want to experience today, or what you want today to be about.
I choose things that I can bring into my reality at any time, during any activity. Some of my favorites are:
Supple. Slow. Enough. Grounded.
One in the End: At the end of the day, if and when I remember, I reflect on what happened with my intention.
And here's the important piece, it doesn't matter if I 'failed' to bring forth my intention the entire day. Because, if that happens, then I learn something about myself. I learn that there's something about this day that was very distracting or difficult to unhook from. If I was able to recall and manifest my intention, I can learn from that, too. I learn what makes that easier, I learn how I support myself and how I sabotage myself.
What I love most about this practice is that it is creative.
I am not simply clearing my mind, but I am actively choosing what I want to create. I love the energy and beauty in that. It gets to be mine, whatever I want it to be, not a prescribed mantra or aspiration. It's a day of my life that is my own creation.
I know that if I meditated it would probably be easier for me to recall my intention, to notice when I need it most, and to remember to reflect on it at night.
But for now, it is working for me. Most days I set my morning intention and reflect on it at night. Sometimes I write it down, but mostly I just think it.
I am grateful for this practice. It helps me pay attention. It helps me activate the part of me that gets to choose where I put my attention and energy.
It is simple. It is easy. I highly recommend it.
So, if you're feeling like Mindfulness is something you want to check out, but are not ready to meditate, try this simple practice.
One in the Beginning and One in the End. Let me know how it goes.
With love and optimism,
p.s. - I created a 28-day journaling program based around this practice of setting an intention in the morning and reflecting on it at night. If you'd like to learn more, you can read about it here. Our next round starts Sept 14th.