I’m sharing a self indulgent post this week, around 1 year and 9 months after I started this blog about happiness and mindfulness. Last weekend marked new territory for me as I began my journey in studying for an MSc in Studies In Mindfulness. Having practised mindfulness for 10 years now, mainly through self learning, a few courses and the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction [MBSR] course, I was excited to start this next chapter. I wished to formalise and expand my knowledge in a field that I have long felt is central to my life. As such, I’m sharing my observations with my wonderful readers (yes you!) about some areas that particularly held my attention this weekend.
There’s always room to learn
I have always felt with mindfulness that you simply cannot stop learning. Every practise teaches you something different; fresh seeds from which (if held with awareness) will help you to grow and flourish as you explore and reflect upon a practise. Mindfulness isn’t about how long you’ve practised, rather than whether you’ve had a quality session in the sense of being able to focus and have an open, non-judgmental awareness of the present moment.
Your learnings are intensified by sharing your experiences
This is something I mentioned previously when I attended the 8 week MBSR course. One thing that is missing from only having a solo practice are other people to discuss your fresh experiences with. From my personal standpoint, this was helpful because a) you realise how many people are facing similar situations to you, and b) you realise how many people aren’t experiencing things in the same way. As mindfulness and meditation is so personal, it’s inevitable that each person’s practice (even if the focal point is set to be the same) is wholly different. It’s an important reminder to respect others’ individual experiences. Equally, it’s sometimes reassuring to discover similarities between yourself and others, and noticing the universality of certain thoughts or feelings.
Mindfulness is a win-win
In my opinion, mindfulness is one of the most selfless selfish (or selfish selfless) things you can devote yourself to. By that, I mean that in studying mindfulness, not only do you directly benefit yourself but everyone else around you. As you grow wise to your habits, behaviours, thoughts, feelings and actions, you are offered a greater amount of opportunities to choose how you live your life. For many, this will be a direction towards a more peaceful, less stressful way of being. This inevitably will have a knock on effect on those around you.
Challenge yourself in a healthy way
Reflecting upon your practice can be a great opportunity to challenge your predispositions. How do they serve you? Are you acting habitually as a result of your thoughts or actively choosing the way you wish to live your life? In my own experience, mindfulness trains the mind to find space where we often habitually cannot find it, e.g. when we’re stressed. It allows us to find short windows of time in which we can choose our actions instead of behaving reactively.
Enjoy the journey
It’s so easy to get caught up in an end goal or a destination. But as my blog’s tagline says, ‘Happiness is a journey, not a destination’. It’s the same with mindfulness. It’s a journey, an experience, not a destination. Some journeys just so happen to also be your passion and dreams. In my case, I have felt energised with a warm and fulfilling energy by having an opportunity to study and personally develop.