A guest post by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
When people practice mindfulness they say things like, it makes me calm, it softens my body, it helps me be more aware of choice or I seem to be more clear about what matters. The question I love to follow with is, “what would the days, weeks and months ahead be like if there is more of this in your life?”
All the talk lately about mindfulness got me thinking: do I really know what this is and how to practice it? If I wondered about how to be mindful, I imagine others did, too. So, I took my questions to an expert, Cara Bradley, author, yoga and meditation teacher, and founder of Verge Yoga in Philadelphia, PA.
We are always looking to find the magic bullet—the thing that will fix everything for all time. What would be the fun in that? Where is the mastery and challenge in life when we just want to do something once and be done with it? We are always wanting to check things off the list. It’s part of being human. So how do we drop into commitments, and doing something better for ourselves? We must commit, but then recommit by making our new habits bulletproof.
“Patience is not learned in safety.” -Pema Chodron
Spring tests my patience. Every single year. Especially here in Colorado, as the weather whips back and forth between snow and sun, and as calm mornings give way to blustery afternoons, my patience is tried every spring. I become anxious for warmer, more stable weather.
Every spring, I am reminded once again that I am not in control. Patience is the only way through.
We humans, though, don’t learn patience the easy way. We don’t learn patience when things are going our way. Rather, we learn patience when we are tested, and when we finally have to accept that we can’t control the world.
If you could attend a workshop with Gandhi, the Dalai Lama or Martin Luther King, Jr., you’d sign up just as fast as you could, wouldn’t you? I felt just as excited when I heard that Thich Nhat Hanh — a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, master meditation teacher and renowned advocate for peace — was offering a day of mindfulness near my home. The day-long program was put on by the Omega Institute at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, meaning all this Brooklynite mom had to do was arrange for childcare and get on the subway. Done.