There is so much mindfulness meditation can teach us: how to be in touch with our thoughts and feelings; how our thoughts and feelings impact our bodies and actions; strategies to find greater focus and decrease anxiety and stress. Yet one of the areas I've found to be the most beneficial has been the journey of learning along the way.
This has not been a simple "open the book and study" experience; rather, I have had to face many habits and emotions that have been a part of "me" over the years. Some of the behaviors have served me well; others, not so much. But keeping in mind what is most important for me, what I consider to be most important, continues to make the effort, awareness, and difficulty worth the effort.
What steps can you take to further your mindfulness and awareness as an individual?
- Realize that not everyone is on the same journey, nor will they understand how important the learning is to you. This does not need to stop you or the process; merely control the amount of information you choose to share with those around you.
- Mindfulness teaches that it is important to keep a "beginner's mind." This attitude of seeing things as if they had never been seen before is essential, but you must be ready to view things about yourself, and consider new points of view that, in the past, you could have chosen to avoid.
- There are a multitude of books, websites, and professionals willing and able to assist you on your journey, and not all of them have anything associated with mindfulness in the title. I would say my greatest source of knowledge has been through a leadership program called Power of Self, and I would also say that I was only ready for the program because of the mindfulness learning I had previously experienced.
- While many resources are available to provide information, it is important that you are willing to sift through the massive sources in order to find just the right ones for you. This being a very personal choice precludes me from naming organizations or individuals wit few exceptions, yet those individuals who have been involved with the secular mindfulness experience were a wonderful place to start for me. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and anyone he supported were important resources for me, as were school programs like Mindful Schools that endorsed teachers having their own personal practices. After all, how can you teach mindfulness if you don't practice it yourself; as a former teacher and principal I know this practice to be much different than a math or grammar class.
Mindfulness meditation was and is a path for me that provided what I needed, and what I continue to need, even if I didn't, and sometimes don't, realize where or what the need was or is. It is an experience where I have learned strategies that enable me to find a place of calm and less stress. In addition to these very important mindfulness strategies, it has also led me to consider and explore new possibilities. Often I find myself trying things beyond my comfort zone and, as with any new activity, know I will trip and fall. Yet, with my newly learned mindful strategies, I feel sure I will pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.