I know a lot of folks struggle with 'mindfulness' or 'meditation'. Perhaps more accurate to say they even struggle with the thought of the practice much more than the practice, if you see the nuance.
Meditation is a tough word, probably carries to much imagery and gravitas. Mindfulness works, I like it, but it provides a subtle paradox - what doesn't in this tradition? We want to be 'mindful', yet the problem is our mind if full - full of monkeys, full of ama (undigested sticky matter - the 'junk food' we watch, listen to, the drama, the shite), full of negative thoughts, full of projection and reflection... At least, that's what I experience.
When I came to the practice, it took me the requisite time to figure it all out. To get body awareness, learn left and right, be able to pay attention, to learn to listen, and to build bone density and basic upper body strength. After I got to the baseline, I was able to work deeper into the practice.
I moved into the more vigorous practices - Flow, Vinyasa, Ashtanga. It was in those practices that I found a way to apply the vigor, and the necessity of staying focused on transitions as a way to burn away the monkey mind, to find a bit of clarity, emptiness and solace. I noticed this to be true in my practice, and later to be true as a teacher. There is a student who presents to the vigorous practice because it takes that to wear away or to burn off the over-riding mind. Therein, those students find their quietude.
You teach from your practice - so I teach that. That's at the foundation of my perspective and it's what defines the tribe I serve. I've got to keep looking at how that might evolve, how that might grow, how that might continue to mature in it's service, both in my practice and in my teaching.
I've also recently really enjoyed teaching MBSR - Mindfulness, in atypical settings and non-yoga environments. More specifically, to folks who don't normally do yoga, or traditional meditative practices, or may not even be active. It's amazing, humbling and encouraging to watch the almost immediate changes this basic practice of mindfulness can bring - calmness, softened features, slower and more deliberate speech, presence, amity, and so much more. It's been a privilege to take these techniques and share them.
To the point of this post - for some of us, we're so full in the mind, so cluttered, so frenetic, that we need a deliberate practice, a threshold, perhaps even the gross sensation of vigor combined with focus, to burn away those thoughts, projections, reflections and assumptions. Then, to our surprise, there is a clarity afforded. Once the mind has been 'emptied', then we can be 'mind-ful'.
What helps me is ritual - routine, discipline. Doing Surya Namaskar is ideal. There is an inherent grace and rhythm to the kriya, and it easily becomes muscle memory. Therein, we have two choices... check out, or dive in. When our body knows what to do, we can often just drift away - mind emptied. Ever arrived at work in your car, really not remembering any of the traffic lights or cross-traffic turns?? Hmmm.
But, if we take that same muscle memory, and the subtle disconnect that it affords, then we can truly train the freed attention to become the observer; not participant, not driver. And in that observation, become completely mindful - in true Mindfulness.
Meditation, Mindfulness, Yoga - here's where they meet - 'undivided, uninterrupted, single-pointed focus that is sustained'. Make sense as an operational definition?? How does it work for you? Where do you find single-pointed mindfulness?
Give thanks and praise.