After going through an 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) last year when I was pregnant I have struggled of late to integrate formal mindfulness practice into my routine. I can come up with all sorts of excuses of being a new mum, iron wife, pursing multiple projects etc., BUT instead I will take ownership for its demise. I haven't made it a priority and started to feel the tired, less attentive effects like when I don't find time for physical activity.
So being an action oriented, thoughts into action kind of gal I thought what am I going to do about it? On a recent walk I created space for this insight to emerge, I'm going to set myself a mindfulness schedule like I have for physical activity when training for a triathlon race.
Why? Having the accountability of a training program helps keep me motivated and focused. I also like keeping things varied with different lengths of activity, indoor/outdoor settings etc. Here's an example of a week's program I have pulled together to start with. To me, this to be looks achievable whilst being mum, ironwife, managing some mumpreneur projects and wanting to build up my physical training again:
- Monday - 15 minute mountain pose (to start the week strongly)
- Tuesday - 60 minutes of Yoga (mindful movement)
- Wednesday - 15 minute body scan
- Thursday - 30 standing movement practice
- Friday - Rest day
- Saturday - 60 minute sense and savour walk
- Sunday - 30 minute body scan
*Mindfulness practices taken from the MBSR Openground training material
Throughout a weekly schedule, daily informal mindful moments like incidental exercise definitely will help too. For people who participate in events like a day of mindfulness or even the 10 day Vipassana you could design a program to build towards the event.
I hear a lot of people struggle after going through a mindfulness program like MBSR. From anecdotes, I think a lot of that is to do with the course structure and accountability having gone. So, why not try and set yourself a weekly schedule mixing up the different activities to keep it varied and even do some sessions with a buddy/small group?
Think about it, a lot of us have training programs for our bodies but what about our brains?
This may seem foreign for people who haven't trained in mindfulness practice. If you're curious or even skeptical and don't know where to start, a couple of suggestions:
- Meditation for Skeptics App: Dan Harris, a correspondent for ABC News in the US has recently released an app '10% Happier: Meditation for Skeptics' which is a great entry for beginners (and skeptics, which he was one of!). This includes a two week introductory program. I was privileged to hear Dan speak at Wisdom 2.0 Business in New York last year. He likens what's happening now with the explosion of mindfulness (one of the most googled words of 2014) to the exercise revolution of the 60's and 70's. I believe in 5-10 years from now having a mindfulness training program as well as a physical training program will be commonplace in the western world. Funny it's taken so long for us to catch up with something that has been around for thousands of years with its Buddhist roots
- Mindfulness Summit: Another exciting initiative is the free mindfulness summit, a not for profit event for the 31 days of October. Join me in registering to learn from over 30 of the world's leading experts on meditation and mindfulness including the legendary Jon-Kabat Zinn. I think the planned series of online interviews, practice sessions and presentations pioneered by Melli O'Brien of MrsMindfulness.com is a fantastic example of innovation and collective wisdom in action. To me this summit is a testament to the nature of mindfulness practice, people are willing to share and help others rather than hold on to and control material.
Through experience I believe a healthy mind, body connection is the ultimate step towards happiness. To finish I'll leave you with a thought: If you're physically very fit, are you consistently mentally in a good place to be present, accepting and non-judgemental to enjoy the benefits of a fit body? If not what will you do about it?