March 31, 2011

What to do when mindfulness is not easy

The primary approach of mindfulness is to pay attention to what's happening and to develop a different relationship to our experience so that we're not rejecting it or hating it, but we're also not overwhelmed by it. So mindfulness has an inherent sense of balance. But the reality is that there are times when mindfulness is not that easy. We may be exhausted, or we may not be able to find balance through coming back to the breath, or mental noting, or other techniques we employ, or our mindfulness may be too intermittent. So there are a whole host of approaches to help us come back into balance and once again be mindful. It's fine to explore these methods instead of following a traditional mindfulness practice. Sometimes people think, "Oh, I blew it, I can't do the real thing." But it's not like that at all. Get up and take a walk, go out into nature, do some stretches, or whatever it might be, if it brings you enough calm or perspective to reenter a place where you can relate differently to what arises in your experience.

Excerpted from Sharon Salzberg's Real Happiness. Special book offer available for Tricycle Community Members. Become a Tricycle Community Supporting or Sustaining Member and join Sharon Salzberg for April's Tricycle Retreat!

Image: from the Flickr photostream of fmgbain

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