The Single Sentence I Use to Be More Mindful
I have a bit of a problem: Inside my mind, there is a monkey wearing a silly hat and carrying two enormous cymbals. This monkey enjoys nothing more than to clash the cymbals incessantly. Contrary to the expected sound of ringing metal, these cymbals produce something completely different. These cymbals sound like:
“What am I going to eat later? What does my week at work look like coming up? What should I write about next?”
My mind is constantly bombarding me with thoughts; they can be thoughts about food, work, relationships, activities, or just about anything else. Naturally, I recognized that I could benefit from a meditation practice, so I began attempting to meditate for short periods in the morning immediately after waking up.
I quickly realized that I am absolutely terrible at meditation. When I sit down for one of these sessions, most of the time it feels as if I am setting my mind-monkey loose as usual, except that I am sitting cross-legged with my eyes closed.
This honestly makes the problem even worse: Not only have I failed to restrain my mischievous mind-monkey, but I’ve added a sense of failure to the equation. So now I have my distracted thoughts exacerbated by my frustration.
I think this is a problem that is not unique to me — many folks associate “mindfulness” with the act of literally sitting down and meditating like a Buddhist Monk. Many of these folks, like me, find this direct approach very challenging and frustrating. However, this is not the only route to mindfulness.
How to Meditate (for terrible meditators)
During a podcast where he was promoting his book “Stillness Is The Key”, the author Ryan Holiday talked about how he doesn’t traditionally meditate but incorporates mindfulness or “stillness” into organic moments in his life.
This process is a much better option for people who struggle with the traditional approach to meditation. Throughout your day, stop and take a moment to slow down and immerse yourself in what you’re doing. This can happen when you’re just sitting and enjoying a view, cooking, reading…