“The faster we go, the more we are able to hide from ourselves and others. Jai!”
~ Judith Hanson Lasater
It’s so easy to make a meditation or breathing practice one more thing on our to-do list that we’re hard on ourselves for not doing. I definitely fall off the wagon regularly when life’s demands pull at me and can even mostly forget about my meditation practice until its absence makes itself know by negatively impacting my mood and balanced quality of mind. I need to return over and over to the practice.
Whether we’re wishing to start or resume a short practice getting started (or resuming) both are best done with an attitude of gentleness and appreciation for ourselves for taking the time to practice. Gratitude for the traditions we’re diving into tend to quickly follow.
Orit Sen-Gupta, one of my primary yoga teachers, described a realization that she had early in her life when asked by a Christian monk in Galilee who practiced yoga what her own daily practice was (Beginner’s Practice Manual; Vijnana Yoga Practice Manual, Amazon.com). Because she didn’t have a daily practice yet, she said that she felt intuitively that she was lacking something special and important in her life. Although she loved yoga and practiced often she had not “been initiated into the secrets of a steady daily practice” and that “the so-called freedom each day to choose what to do, [and] the absence of clear guidelines that give direction and a framework, was more of a burden than a joy.” That changed when she met Dona Holleman, my other esteemed teacher, with whom she studied and practiced following a defined daily practice, which she herself had learned from BKS Iyengar in the 1960’s. She states “I still feel gratitude for the simplicity and clarity of the daily of a defined daily practice”. The benefits of practice are profound. We don’t even need a long sitting practice to bring benefits, just consistent practice. Doing a short mindfulness practice for even 5 or 10 minutes a day can help us cultivate an attitude of living more consciously and make good choices that are in harmony with our deep inner wisdom.
People find it helpful to set an intention to do the practice, to find a convenient place to practice and carve out a convenient time or times to meditate which fit their own schedules or lifestyle, the way they might decide when to have a shower, or brush their teeth in the morning or take a coffee or tea break with a friend in the middle of your work day. Taking the time to practice is performing an act of kindness to yourself every time that you do it. With these actions you’re telling yourself that you’re worth it. Each time you practice you grow the benefits and they compound until your love cup is full.