For the last year, I have been getting into mindfulness, which uses various techniques to cultivate a non-judgemental awareness of the current moment. With mindfulness and meditation, one's practice can wax and wane over the course of a year (as it can with many things), and I'm no exception; up until about a month ago I was practising meditation quite rarely, although I was trying to have a mindful attitude when stressors arose.
But a few weeks ago I was brought back into the swing of mindfulness. A seasoned instructor in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) gave me a lend of the book "A Year of Living Mindfully" by Anna Black-funnily enough, this happened about one year after I finished her MBSR course. It has spurred me to get back on the horse for year 2 of my practice.
One thing that has stood out so far in this book: an attitude the author suggests one should cultivate as a practitioner of mindfulness is non-striving. Although I'm not particularly prone to stress as such, non-striving is one attitude that does push against my personality. I am someone who strives to do well/get on with it/get the most out of life. Although I don't think it's realistic for me to get rid of my aspirations in any lasting sense, like anyone I can let them go when I don't need to be actively working towards them. Easier said than done-a certain restlessness hangs over ambition.
I think I am starting to become more mindful at certain times when I am not actively meditating, for example when exercising. I think this is my second favourite time to be mindful (after times when I am confronted with a stressor), as it is an activity that for me does not feel like moving towards a particular end (even though it is, of course, aimed towards better health). Its repetitive, cyclical nature differs from the more progressive (and sometimes frustrating) nature of research work.
Speaking of work, we're hoping to trial-run some recordings of mindfulness activities over the coming week. The overall aim is to put together a mindfulness podcast with the previously mentioned MBSR instructor. Should be fun!
Mindfulness and the mind
Mindfulness update: 6 months on