Finishing a mindfulness course is usually just an ending of a beginning. This is an important transition in which you pass from being supported by the guidance of a tutor to following your own internal motivation or/and needs. From my own experience and having seen this many times with participants when finishing the course, this is not an easy transition. The question is how to stay in contact with mindfulness in the midst of our busy lives?
Keep in mind that our mindfulness capacity is like a muscle. When we train it, it develops and when we don’t the muscle gets smaller. So, mindfulness practice cannot be used as a quick fix only when things go wrong but it has more of a preventative nature. It is a capacity we need to nurture on a daily basis so that it is already there when we find ourselves in difficult times. Thus, keeping the mindfulness practice close is essential.
How to do this? How to stay motivated and do the practice even when there are too many other everyday demands? What you can do first is to think about the things that were giving you support and/or were helpful throughout your course and go back to that whenever you need to motivate yourself. You could try making a kind of a sustainability plan for including mindfulness in your daily life. This kind of daily habit can be a potent transformational tool.
Looking back to some difficult times when I was lacking the energy and motivation to do anything, what made an important difference for me was changing my perspective from seeing only the things that I am currently not able to do or I don’t feel like doing to looking for things that I actually can do. For instance, if I feel too tired or I don’t have time to do a longer mindfulness practice, maybe I can do a shorter one, or maybe I can just observe my breath for a few moments, or perhaps my mind running. Anything is better than nothing. Even taking just a few short moments a day to familiarize oneself with the present moment.
The important thing is that we don’t wait for the perfect conditions to practice or to be mindful. There actually isn’t such a thing. We cannot be waiting for these so-called perfect moments to arrive, but we just have to create them ourselves. Moving our focus from the excuses that separate us from the practice and realizing that especially in the moments when we can’t stay still is actually when we need it the most.
Whatever practice or whichever daily activity you bring mindful attention to, you can also have in mind five simple steps that encompass the principles of mindfulness process:
- If it’s possible, do just one thing at a time.
- Pay attention to what you are doing.
- If your mind starts to wander, intentionally bring it back.
- Repeat the 3rd step a couple of billion times.
- Be curious and explore the contents of the thoughts where your mind is wandering.
Remember that the best part of mindfulness is that whenever you forget about it, you can always go back and start again.