It is important to understand this before we learn mindfulness. There is a difference between learning something new and practicing.
Many of us hold great curiosity and our mind is excited about new insights and knowledge, but it is difficult to persist in behavioural change. Instead of seeing the nature of our habits and mind, we conclude something is not useful or we label ourselves as failures when we fail to persist in the practice necessary for mastery.
The first step to change is to cultivate a sense of ease and compassion towards our supposed limitations and flaws (just part of human nature). Let go of the many standards, beliefs and expectations of what mindfulness is or isn’t. Allow ourselves to truly embody a beginner’s mind, after all…
We are just students to this school called life.
Muscles of our mind
As a human being that hopes to live with ease, we need to exercise the muscles of our mind. These are muscles that we neglect or maybe never taught to be aware of.
Present Moment Focus
Embodiment & Being
(vs Living in the Head)
(vs Judgement or
Letting Be & Allowing
(vs Perpetual Striving or
Kindness & Self-Compassion
(vs Harsh Blaming of
Mindfulness practice is one of those few practices that allows one to see clearly and to retrain our mind muscles with kindness and compassion. Truly treating ourselves as an esteemed guest and student moment to moment. You may notice a persistent and recurrent pattern in how you feel or behave, e.g. procrastination or fears. These beliefs and habits are likely well-built muscles, reinforced and trained over time by our repetitive behaviors and emotions.
There are simple steps and ways to guide ourselves to build new muscles to balance our existing ones. Note that I use the word balance, and not remove or overcome. All our existing muscles have contributed directly to our survival and are important. The work is then for us to train the skill of being versatile and shifting between different muscles as required by how we wish to live, based on our true values.
Many times, these old habitual muscles make us feel like we can’t live the way we want, e.g. be more calm, more allowing, or stay focused.
To Live how we want to Live takes Practice.
If I have been right-handed all my life, the only way to use my left hand to write is through practice. And it is the same with all tendencies and habits we have in our mind. While our left hand is made up of many individual muscles that, the practice to write begins with just picking up the pen to write.
Hence, the simplicity of mindfulness practice is that, if done with an embodied and trained mindfulness teacher, a single practice will encompass the ‘training’ of most, if not all the muscles illustrated in the image. The challenge is that the practices needs to be repeated, many many times. The skills of mindful living can be etched right into the brain as vibrant and strong resource, widening our perspective of choices and resources to live free and at ease.
When we feel free and at ease, there is space for all kinds of possibilities.
Comment below: What is the biggest obstacle you have when learning something new? Is there anything you can do differently to help you learn more readily?