Your Mind is a Monkey: Why Meditation is a Practice

One of the things I enjoy most about running ‘Introduction to Mindfulness’ workshops is the way people engage with the subject. I get asked lots of fantastic questions and when we meditate together we soon get to the heart of the matter. People soon open up about how busy their minds are and how overwhelmingly negative. I offer information from neuroscience and evolutionary biology that explains why this is the way it is and how it is not our fault.

Your mind is a monkey and if it has been running wild for some time then you can know that it might take a little training. And that is why a Meditation Practice is called a Practice. Because it takes practice, and because we never stop practicing. And so on those days when we come to practice and our minds are busy then, instead of seeing that as a failure, we could see it as a great training day!

When we first come to Meditation we really hoped to gain some respite from our minds, from the endless thinking and so it is natural to not to want to have to sit with difficulty or spend our practices noticing we have been thinking, labelling it thinking and returning to the breath. Sometimes though that is just how it is. It will change just as surely as the weather continues to change but in that moment, that is how it is and so, time and time again, Mindfulness asks the question “can I be with my experience just as it is?”

My advice is to trust the process. At the beginning it can feel like hard work but as with all things that are worth doing it will be worth the practice. Inspired by Jon Kabat Zinn's quote - "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to Surf' I often liken my Mindfulness Practice to my experience of learning to surf. It's hard at the beginning. You train on the beach and come to understand what you have to do, but in the water it is so much harder. You follow instructions as best you can but over and over again you fall into the water, sometimes getting hit by the board and certainly swallowing a lot of salt water. You keep going, watching the experienced surfers making it look easy while you continue to swallow salt water. But sooner or later you manage to clamber up onto the board and it starts to make sense. But there is still much work to be done and so you continue to work. And so it is with my Mindfulness practice. I keep practicing. Some days I am standing on the board, other days I am clinging to it! But I keep practicing and the results are so worthwhile.

If you want to dip your toe in the water then why not try a little Meditation for yourself. You could come to one of my Mindfulness Meditation Classes (first and third Friday’s of every month in Derby 7.30-8.45 pm) or you could try using an App. The three apps I currently recommend are Headspace, Oxford MBCT app and Finding Peace in a Frantic World app.

Or come to an Introduction to Mindfulness Workshop and we can unpick it together. I will be running them in Derby in January and February (dates tbc) but in the meantime you can book on to the one I am running in Burton on January 11th at the lovely Calm Yoga Studio.

But if is full immersion you are looking for then how about an 8-week Mindfulness Course? They consist of eight x two hour weekly teaching sessions following a structured programme, with a home practice component that will give you lots of opportunity to practice. This course is, in my experience, and the experience of many of my clients, a life-changer!

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