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Mindful : December 2017
When you start something—learning to play an instrument, a sport, a game like chess—it’s usually a little hard at the outset, but if you decide to stick with it, it gets a little better. A few positive experiences motivate you, and quite possibly they uplift you. As with any new undertaking, you may enter a honeymoon phase: The early stages can be sweet like honey, but they will fade like the waning moon. Everything changes. If you decide to keep going, inev- itably you’ll face the challenges that come with settling down, as in any relationship. If beginning meditation puts you in touch with your mind and helps you start to get to know yourself better, keeping going is about spend- ing serious time with yourself. You may encounter boredom, emotional upheavals, long-term problems you don’t solve—like the pain of a dysfunc- tional family member, or the fact that money is tight—all the stuff of life. You’re still walking on that slackline, but you might smile about it more. the middle BOREDOM IS FINE It’s OK to just let one moment unfold into the next without something special happen- ing. In fact, boredom in med- itation can be a signal that you’re letting go of the craving for constant enter tainment. It contains an element of relief. FIND FRIENDS AND COMMUNITY When you can share space and time with others who are merging meditation with life in the same way, it helps to relieve the burden of medi- tation being a big personal struggle. If your area has many groups, try them out and see what resonates with you. Maybe something’s happening at your workplace. That’s more common these days, as is finding community online. You can also make friends with people you’ve attended meditation trainings with. Strong bonds can be formed there. ENJOY SILENCE We can often get the benefit of teachers by listening to guided instruction. At a cer- tain point, it’s helpful to also have plenty of time for silence. It’s what the guided medita- tion is guiding you toward: having some time when you don’t rely on any extra stimulation. If you’ve already been meditating in silence, try to see if longer sessions, or a retreat, works for you. You might be surprised. “Mindfulness is self-correcting. As we go off course, it will guide us, as will our fellow meditators and friends. The ability to appreci- ate the quiet and listen to how you’re being guided gets clearer and clearer the more you practice. The practice itself serves you the life lessons you need.” TARA HEALEY 48 mindful December 2017 meditation