There was once a mindfulness institute that placed an advertisement in a daily newspaper and in various social media sites. The short ad read as follows:
One-day Enlightenment. Guaranteed. Call: 0800-Mindful
A woman saw this ad and got very excited. She had been dealing with daily stressors, a new job, and even health issues. She called to get the address and the very next morning she went to the institute and found one of the instructors.
“I saw your ad. What do you mean by enlightenment?” she asked.
“Clarity of mind,” said the instructor. “Also, a sense of peace and inner calm, even in the midst of life’s difficulties. All you have to do,” he explained, “is to follow your breath completely, noticing the in-breath, the pause, and the out-breath—without any distractions for the next seven hours to realise your goal.”
The woman glanced at her wristwatch, smiled and said, “Fabulous, I’ll have my enlightenment by dinnertime! Sign me up.” She was given a cushion to sit on, and so she began. The first in-breath was fantastic, and she was present with it the entire time. Right then, however, a siren blared outside. The woman’s sense of hearing grabbed onto the siren and brought it inside her mind, where it started to spin a story: That’s loud. Don’t they know we’re trying to get our enlightenment in here?
Just then she realized she had forgotten about her breath. And so she started again, noticing the complete in-breath and then being present with the pause. She was just starting her out-breath when a fly buzzed by. She opened her eyes and her sense of sight went and grabbed the fly and brought it inside her mind. Again, the mind spun an elaborate story: I wonder if we’re going to have lunch, because having flies isn’t a good idea. Maybe someone left the window open. Who should I talk to? Finally, she remembered about her breath, and so she started again . . . and again. As the story goes, she was still there ten years later trying to get her seven consecutive hours of breath awareness!
That’s why mindfulness is more accurately called re-mindfulness. It’s totally okay to remind yourself to come back to being aware of the mind and body and environment time and time again. Remember, there’s no being perfect with mindfulness. You don’t have to stop your thoughts, either. Just noticing them is good enough. In fact, when it comes to learning mindfulness good enough is always good enough. Because mindfulness is re-mindfulness, there’s never any failure with it. And it’s why mindfulness is a way of inviting and practicing kindness toward yourself.
Reflections: If you have critical or distracted thoughts during your mindfulness practice, just notice them, smile inwardly, knowing that by noticing thoughts you are actually doing the practice! Then, just think of the words “good enough” to release the thoughts and return to your practice.
Yoga Wellness Clinic
(Adapted from: Mindfulness Toolbox)
“I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need.
I feel your feelings. My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you.
Let us work together for unity and love.” - Mahatma Gandhi