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Mindful : December 2016
When am I ever going to find the time to do this? I haven’t the slightest idea. Only you know the structure of your life, but along with noticing that you don’t have an extra 30 minutes a day lying around where you wonder how you might possibly fill it, I’d like to encourage you to take a moment to contemplate a different question that might lead you some- place helpful. Why are you asking the question? Specif- ically, what is it about mindfulness practice that is compelling enough for you to consider trying to squeeze it into a day that is presum- ably as packed as the proverbial clown car at the circus? And might even include a few random actual clowns, depending upon where you hang out! What is it about mindfulness practice that has moved, touched, or shifted something in you, that you are inclined to try to practice it regu- larly? Can you connect with that instant, that feeling, that lightbulb moment that hooked you? If you’ve never meditated and you ask about when you will find the time, then this won’t nec- essarily work for you. But if you’ve practiced and found yourself wanting to practice more, then you have connected with that deep part of your- self that needs the practice and that will truly help you find the time to practice. Give that little spark of wisdom and ease a time and a place to smolder and ignite, even 5-10 minutes a day if that’s all you can find, and see where it leads. I think you’ll find the time, and maybe you’ll be able to boot out a couple of those clowns to make room for a formal practice. Am I Doing This Right? Here’s the latest installment in our ongoing series of helpful answers to common meditator questions. Steve Hickman is founder and director of the University of California at San Diego Center for Mindfulness. He is a clinical psychologist and associate professor in the Psychiatry and Family & Preventive Medicine departments. How can I meditate when I am extremely worried about something and can’t take my mind off that? Sit down, settle your body, notice your breath, catch yourself when your mind wanders and invite it back, and repeat as needed, for 30-45 minutes per day. Pretty creative huh? That’s because I meditate. On the one hand, that might seem like an overly simplistic response to an impor tant question. And I have to admit that it is, but I am trying to make a point. The practice is the practice is the practice. At its core, mind- fulness practice is simple, but the challenge is that it isn’t always easy. In situations where we are particularly captivated by worrisome topics or situations, our mind’s tendency is to go to the content of our worries, to try and solve the problem, Illustrations by Gwenda Kaczor fix the situation, or simply become immersed in anxiety and fear. Our minds like to serve up a big heaping bowl of delicious, enticing, anxiety- provoking fruit, and we can’t resist snatching an apple of anxiety or pear of panic, when our real task is to simply be the bowl. See if the next time worry arises, you can instead notice worr y. Perhaps tuning in to sensations in the body that accompany worry, notice how worr y actually feels, and let the thoughts that come with worry rush past you as if you are sitting beneath a water fall that is pelting you with thoughts and you’ve just chosen to take one step back and watch the thoughts fall. You might even practice a bit of self-compassion and soothe yourself with a gentle touch of the hand to your hear t, not to get rid of the worry but just to acknowledge that worry is present and you are suffering in that moment. 42 mindful December 2016 PRACTICES | the mindful faq