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Mindful : February 2016
Gather Support Many of us, though, just like our dogs, may find it hard to stay. “Meditation ultimately is a do-it-yourself endeavor in the same sense as exercise,” says Hickman, “ We don’t need anyone or anything to go for a run or do leg lifts. Yet do we always exercise as much as we ought to, or intend to? Of course not,” he says. “Most of us need a bit of scaffolding to help build the practice into our routine, to have g uid- ance from others who have been where we are.” That can range from reading an article to going online, enrolling in an MBSR class, attending a silent retreat, or embracing an entire path of contemplation and reflection. “ You can build as much scaffolding as you need,” he says. Today there is more help available for beginning meditators than ever before—books, magazines, classes, retreats, video chats, virtual communities, and innovative apps and websites that provide online instructions. So how to get started and keep going? Here are a few basics: Consider a Teacher While some people may do fine on their own, most of us benefit from guidance and instruc- tion when learning something new. A trained meditation instructor can provide support and can help with the specific questions that might come up for you. “ When a teacher is available to us, it’s the best possible scenario, someone who has been down the path and is a couple of steps ahead to help us get unstuck,” says Hickman. “It is very worthwhile to have someone you can relate to, and who presents teachings clearly, but also someone who can know your practice. Different people need different guidance.” “I spent years trying out different teach- ers and styles,” says Selassie. “It made all the difference when I personally connected with a teacher.” Her advice is to explore, check out different teachers, until you find one who seems to fit your needs. Difficult emotions or memories or anxiety may come up in meditation that people don’t know how to handle, adds Winston. “More advanced work with a teacher—or even an online course—will allow you move into the nuances of your practice, will keep it alive and interesting and applicable to your life.” In the classroom, teachers can help students share and process feelings that come up and provide a safe, supportive atmosphere. Some teachers provide diana winston HOW TO KEEP GOING Short and sweet advice on how to turn early inspiration into a routine part of life “If you come to mindfulness to relieve suffering, that’s fantastic. But more advanced work with a teacher will allow you to move into the nuances of your practice, will keep it alive and interesting and applicable to your life.” donald mccown “You’re not getting the full deal unless you are involved in a community. One thing meditation offers is a real connection to other humans. We crave that. It’s tough being a human alone.” Can’t seem to find the perfect time? Stop trying! Set the bar lower. We can all find a few minutes to stop and check in with our body. Start there. Give some attention tooneortwoofthe 20,000 breaths you take each day. ASK A TEACHER 42 mindful February 2016 meditation