MBSR: Mindfulness Weeks #2 & 3

So, I live in a bubble. Actually, we all live in a bubble.

mbsrWe usually don’t like to THINK that we live in a bubble. It’s much nicer to our ego to assume that we are worldly and aware. Except that what we know from science, and what we know from practice, is that our reality is shaped by our experiences. You cannot know that which you have not experienced. Hence, innately, you have a limited perspective. It’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. It’s no one’s fault. Its just the way it is. #YoureOnlyHuman #GiveYourselfABreak

This is part of what mindfulness teaches us. It is also what the act and process of learning teaches us. (Thank – you Dad, the career educator who jammed all kinds of statistics about learning (10-year-old-Calley-eye-roll), and processes (double yen-year-old-Calley-eye-roll) into my young brain. I finally appreciate all that research information, and have accepted my own human-imperfect-state enough to say out loud, “YES, I LIVE IN A BUBBLE, AND MOST DAYS I’M NOT EVEN AWARE OF IT.” Until I am. Until we are. This is also why classes and groups are a great way to learn new things. Because while you are learning one thing, taking in information by understanding things as they relate to you, someone else is learning something entirely different, based on their experiences and way they take in information. You’re both in the same class, but your experience of the class is going to be different.

So here is what I learned about my buuble this week, by observing my experiences against the others in my MBSR class. And it was a good reminder of something I try to be very conscious of in my teaching, and to explore in my own mind, body, and breath: Practice is something that takes… well, PRACTICE. As someone who’s been practicing sports and dance and music since I was 5, and practicing yoga since I was 19, I have come to love my practices. Sometimes I do the imperfect human thing and have a little trouble making time every day for my current practices (yoga, meditation, singing, writing), but almost every time I practice, I love it.

But not everyone feels that way.

You mean, not everyone is just all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to get down to practicing!?

snow-white (,said Snow White…)

No… No.

Often, beginning a new practice is uncomfortable. Often it feels odd, and unsettling, and we loose a sense of “I know what I’m doing.” We all want to know what we’re doing. But that’s what learning and practice are about. They are about un-doing what you “know,” and exploring what you think you “understand.” And I remember that when I, myself, have been going through tough times, the actual process of a practice might not be entirely pleasant. We’re faced with fears, which we rarely like to admit. We’re faced with insecurities and negative beliefs about ourselves, and – gasp – weaknesses. We’re faced with the scars of our unpleasant life experiences. And we’re faced with stuff we didn’t even know we were dealing with, or hiding, or trying to get away from, or thought we had dealt with. So this whole practice thing takes a lot of work, and humility, and courage to go through – not around, or between, or skip onto the “fast track” stones, but THROUGH – all that stuff buried in your psyche.

But once you DO go through it… once you allow yourself to sit with it, and look at it, and just accept that its here. It’s in your lap. It’s covering you in something stanky… once you can just be there with it, and then get pulled away… and come back to it for a little more time… and then get pulled away… and come back, and get pulled away, and so on and so forth… there is something at the end that feels really really good. Like you figured something out. Like you worked hard. 

And so, after 3 weeks of my MBSR class with Terry Pearson at The Marsh, I am reminded that I have learned to enjoy the process of practice like an old good friend who will sit with you when you scrape your knee. Because they are a good friend, they’re sure-as-shit gonna pour something on that scrape that’ll hurt for a second, or maybe a minute. But its temporary, and then they’re gonna say, “hey, you can cry (scream / sweat / bleed / fart / etc.). It’s ok, you’re dealing with something, I’m here for you.” I have come to enjoy the benefit of that process, and focus on that benefit over the discomfort that the process sometimes brings.

But not everyone is there. And hey – I don’t know their experiences – maybe its way more painful for them than it is for me, I don’t know. I can’t know. And some days its not roses for me either. But I recognize that with so many years of practice under my belt, my mind is perfectly happy to be in a place of “practice.” Things do get easier with time, and I literally have thousands of hours of time in practice to my experience. But setting the foundation for a practice takes ….well, I bet you can finish my sentence…


Which is why I freaking LOVE this video that simplifies and de-bunks common thought about meditation (from the perspective of those who have not developed a practice.):


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