I am often asked “What is the right way to practice mindfulness?”.
Truth be told, I have asked myself the same question many times. I don’t want to waste my time going down the wrong road. Which is more efficient, which is guaranteed to work faster?
Over the last 10 years, there has been an explosion in mindfulness courses, apps and techniques. The choice is amazing and while I celebrate this way of studying and training the mind, it can be overwhelming. Sometimes, too much choice can immobilise us and cause us to do nothing at all.
In my teen years, life was so simple. If you had the right pair of jeans (Staggers), you were cool. If you didn’t have them, not cool. There were only 2 shops that catered for teenagers in Sydney. The IN shop and John and Merivale. If you bought their 8-panel floral ground-length skirt, you were cool. If you didn’t, you weren’t. Now, I can't even buy a pair of jeans. I don't know the correct style, colour, degree of wash, denim weight, length, rips or no rips, waisted, hipped, EEEEKKKKKKKK!
The endless choice makes me doubt myself over and over. There is NO pleasure in shopping. I always feel just slightly off. I never seem to get things quite right. And don’t start me on home design, entertaining, travelling, eating or exercise. The next best thing is always on the horizon and here I am, moping about at the bottom of a hill, completely clueless. I blame social media, commercials, the supermarket isle. Basically, I blame TOO MUCH CHOICE and how that undermines my confidence.
And then we come to mindfulness. You may have been introduced to mindfulness through the “pure” teachings of Goenka Vispassna, the more secular teachings of an MBSR course, the inclusivity of the Thich Nat Hahn practices, the gentleness and love practices of Insight or Loving Kindness practices. Perhaps transcendental meditation. You may have chosen to use an app (Insight Timer, Calm, Smiling Minds...), or gone to a retreat, listened to a podcast or read a book... But how did you choose that? Why?
With selectivity, a problem arises with the need to defend your choice if challenged. If you have moved through the exciting evangelical state (having found the answer to all human suffering) to the often less than exciting states of meditation, you may begin to have doubts that you're on the right path.
The Buddha claimed there are at least 84,000 ways to awaken/show up to your life. So, obviously, there are a few more choices on the horizon.
The stress is enough to make you want to meditate! Oh yeah, that's where we started.
My current mentor shared with me recently that it's all just opinions and views and in choosing your way, you must follow the curve of your heart.
Jack Kornfield wrote in his beautiful book Path with Heart: If your path has heart, follow it. If it doesn’t, don’t.
Happy meditating, and follow your heart,