I wrote this a year ago, today. Clearly I was sending a message to a future self - a self that really needs this right now. It's funny how that happens.
To start, I don't think what I am going to say replaces the mindfulness practice that takes place whenwhen you are sitting and paying attention to your breath and what is. There’s a certain quality to that approach that separates the self from body, thought, aches, pains and other distractions, that I am not sure the mindfulness-in-action approach does. Having that awareness is invaluable, and I am quite sure I have not finished discovering how much so. There is something there that I need again, that I have not really had since I gave it up(the formal practice), so I am trying to figure out what I need to do to get back into it. In my attempts I have been able to access both a comfortable and an uncomfortable familiarity, and I have begun to realize that I am going to need to make a lifestyle change. I am not sure what it will involve, but I sense that it will be considerable and is best done gradually. So, one step at a time….but I digress.
I understand the frustration of feeling unfocussed, of my mind racing, of riding the wave of a thought, ending up somewhere else and saying, “Shit. I did it again.” I know what it feels like to be at the beginning (again) and to question the value, to wonder if it is worth the effort, pain and frustration, but I can recognize that they are just thoughts. I have a knowledge that runs deeper than that, experience of how it goes and how much is not real. It’s almost impossible to remember when I am tired, my knees hurt, I have defeated myself by slouching, but I know that there is no failure in trying and that the success is actually in the realization of “Shit, I did it again.” It is really not about how many times I get lost in thought; what is important is how many times I return to the point of focus. More is better. It’s skill development, which can’t happen if I don’t make mistakes. It can be frustrating, but it’s easier when I shift my attention to what’s important - whatever I have selected as my point of focus, instead of dwelling on the mistakes. “Oh, there it is again” works much better than “Shit!….” Sometimes I do okay, and sometimes it’s just another stupid thing to be mindful of.