This feature by Randy Wolbert is the first part in a two-part series about the practice of mindfulness. At a time when New Year’s resolutions are a top focus, this part 1 discusses the value of incorporating mindful practicing into your life.
Looking for a New Year’s Resolution? I have just the thing. Make a commitment during the year to formally practice mindful meditation every day. You can do this and I will tell you how.
Just go ahead and search scientific publications for the benefits of mindfulness practice and you will be astounded by the number of articles on how mindful meditation has this absolute cornucopia of positive benefits. Many of these benefits fit into the broad categories that Marsha Linehan defined as the goals of mindful practice: decreasing suffering, increasing happiness, increasing control of your mind, and experiencing reality as it is. (Linehan, 2015; Mindfulness Handout #1).
Of course the real goal of mindfulness practice is mindfulness practice. As described by Thích Nhất Hạnh, “There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.” Sure, you can practice for all the benefits but why not practice just to practice?
You may be thinking, “I don’t have time for this every day.” Years ago I was an on again off again meditator. My target was 45 minutes each day. Many things in life can get in the way of 45 minutes of practice per day. Pat Hawk, my first Zen teacher said to practice for five minutes every day. It turns out that in the practice of mindfulness, frequency is more important than duration. I think each of us can find that five minutes each day to practice mindful meditation.
Marsha, my second Zen teacher, regularly would tell me to make classical conditioning work for us. Tie the practice of daily mindfulness to something that you do each and every day. If you make coffee in the morning, start your coffee and while it is brewing, sit mindfully. When you are done sitting, your coffee will be ready.
According to Robert Aitken, “It is time to put yourself back in tune, to be ready for experiences that make life fulfilling. Take up the advice for beginners. Put your zazen pad somewhere between your bathroom and your kitchen. Sit down there in the morning after you use the bathroom and before you cook breakfast. You are sitting with everyone in the world. If you can sit only briefly, you will at least have settled your day.”
Click here for part 2, in which Randy will talk about HOW to incorporate mindfulness practice and a technique that may help you get started.
Randy Wolbert, LMSW, CAADC, CCS is a DBT trainer with Behavioral Tech. Randy has been practicing DBT since 1995 and was a contractual trainer with BTECH since 1998 and transitioned to a full time trainer/consultant in 2015. Read his full biography here.