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Mindful : December 2017
All of us who have started practicing meditation usually begin for one (or both) of two reasons: we’re in pain or experiencing difficulty, or we want to perform better. The poster-child image of the meditator we see so often—trim and tanned, well coiffed and made up, sitting in perfect posture with a self-satisfied grin on their face—would give you the idea that meditation is like a cookie mold that makes everyone come out the same. That could not be further from the truth. Part of the beauty of meditation is that it puts you in touch with what’s going on in your mind, and that starts to help you to be yourself. Starting to discover that it’s OK to be who you are, and actually finding a little bit of relief from the harsh critic in your head, is usually what keeps us going in the beginning. After you’ve started meditating, you are still walking that slackline of life—nothing takes that away—but you might have a slightly more confident smile on your face and a bigger laugh when you inevitably fall off. the start GET GOOD INSTRUCTION There are many types of meditation and many ways of teaching meditation. Getting sound instruction in the beginning will help you develop good habits. Take care: You’re choosing a healthcare provider for your mind. If you use an app or other digital tool, make sure the teacher behind it has demonstrated experience. Find out what he or she says about why they meditate and see if it resonates with you. If you meet them in person, see if they take an interest in who you are, not just what they have to say to you. A good meditation teacher is a very caring person. LOOK AT THE LANDSCAPE Mindfulness is not religious per se. You can practice it in a nonreligious contex t, a con- text with a little bit of religion, or in a religious contex t. As you look at the different types of teachers and places to learn from, over time you can find one, or a mix of several, that suits who you are and where you are in your life. Mindfulness includes finding space in your mind to make your own informed choices. “What is the path of meditation? Your present- moment experience. What is your curriculum? Your life, as it is. Not somebody else’s life, not your ideal life—your life.” WILL KABAT-ZINN 46 mindful December 2017 meditation