Like anything, really. Maybe not perfect, but definitely better.
Everything from playing tennis or golf to working in excel, practice and focused effort causes improved skill.
Meditation and Mindfulness is the same!
If I had a nickle every time someone told me they “weren’t good at it”, or they “could never quiet their mind and think of Nothing” when it comes to meditation, I would have a massive pile of nickles by now.
For me, being a self diagnosed hyper-high-energy type, I thought the same thing 5 years ago when I first tried to meditate.
I had to start with short guided meditations. I had my sister, Bani Aello, coach me to realize that it was okay that my mind wandered a hundred times at first. And ya, I eventually became very forgiving of myself as I would just pull my mind back from wandering thoughts when I first started practicing stillness.
I did get better at this! I can say humbly, that I’m pretty darn great at stillness and single-thought mindfulness now. The time set aside for this practice was not for nothin! I can focus on a flower and appreciate the petals, leaves and colour for quite a while before becoming distracted. I was determined to keep practicing to improve, and yes, I did.
In the mean time, my chronic headaches gradually disappeared. My negative inner monologue became less negative. I even began automatically rhyming off a gratitude list when I was in the car, instead of getting frustrated with the traffic. It’s changed my whole outlook on life.
Researchers now know the benefits of practicing positive focused awareness and a single thought in the mind. This ‘brain break’ improves mental, emotional and even physical health in all kinds of ways. (more on the proven benefits to come)
The main obstacle most people have is the confidence that they can actually ‘do it’.
So, I recommend you just start.
Begin with a guided meditation, or just listening to your breath. Even for just a minute.
You’ll feel relaxed the more you feel good about relaxing. (don’t get me started on quantum physics)
Being outside in nature almost always helps. (don’t get me started on Forest Bathing)
Next time we’ll talk more about the benefits of practicing focused awareness and single thought mindfulness, but for now, baby steps.
One breath at a time…
Inhale, 2, 3, 4
Exhale 2, 3, 4
Let me know how it goes for you,
Photo credit: Aidan Stoddard