When we come to sit for a meditation practice, we begin by stating our motivation.  And we do this, in part, because it helps the mind.  When we practice, we give the mind a place to rest, an anchor.  And this place of rest, is the body breathing.

We do this for a few reasons:

  • We are breathing already and nothing new needs to be learned.
  • It is soothing to the nervous system
  • It connects the body and mind.

Together, these give the mind a resting place.  Yet we know that when we sit to practice, that the mind will wander.  The narrative network will startup.  That is what minds do, it is natural.  To strengthen our ability to bring our mind back again and again to the breath, and to strengthen our ability to hold the mind in one place, it can be helpful to have a clear motivation.

Why am I doing this?  Why is this important to me?

  • I want to be a better friend / partner / parent / colleague
  • I feel better when I start my day with a practice
  • I want to feel steady / stillness etc
  • I want to express kindness to myself or others

When we have clarity of why this is important to me, then it is easier to prioritise your mindfulness practice and make it a habit.

When we sit to practice, we also have a battle between the conscious mind and the unconscious mind.

We can consciously place our attention on our breath and focus on there.  But we know as well that there will be things on the periphery of our awareness that pull on our attention.  And these can be things internally and externally.

Ask yourself, what internal things pull my attention during my practice, away from the breath? What distracts me?

This is different for each of us.  You might have a sore back and think you’ve to do something about it, next thing, your focus is not on your breath, but on your back.  Distractions might be typical patterns of thoughts, to-do lists.  And the more you sit, the more, you’ll see your patterns of thought.  A thought arises and the mind goes there.

So it is helpful to train the mind’s ability to not be so reactive to the world around us by having some clarity.  Thus, you are teaching the mind how to prioritise and how to respond.

We are training the unconscious mind that right now, as we practice, we rest here, on the breath.  The more that we do this, the more it becomes embedded.

Mindfulness is a practice of having a clear intention – what is the priority IN THIS moment?  And this is strengthened by the motivation – Why am I doing this?  This motivation is always individual to you,

Then we have repetition.  This is noticing when the mind has been drawn away and we bring it back to the breath.  Imagine we’re in the mind gym, and we’re strengthening the mind’s capacity and clear priority of why we are doing this.

Having a clear sense of our motivation gives us a sense of purpose and meaning.

Why am I doing this?  Why is this important to me?

And, ultimately, how we show up for our practice will spill into how we show up in the real world, the place away from the meditation cushion.

 

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