Have been contacted by some known to me and, pleasurably, by others not known to me following the last post on mindfulness. The irony of providing a list of resources to be used on devices which, notoriously, distract us, did strike me, – even more so when after completing the post I read about a new book “Silence in the Age of Noise” by Erling Kagge. In this book, Kagge writes about our obsession with mobiles, tablets etc which tend to drive us towards being constantly “busy” and always “accessible”. This symbiotic relationship with our devices means that we are becoming less a resource for one another and more a resource for organizations which:
…map us all out, with our voluntary assistance, to use or sell the information…
Kagge stress the importance of “switching off” through silence. He writes that this practice might be called ” meditation, yoga, mindfulness, or merely commonsense. A young yoga teacher recently described being “joyful” when on the yoga mat and, on the subject of regular practice, added ..”Then, why wouldn’t you?..” Commonsense in her view. Why is it so hard to stop and pause? To roll out the mat? Why is it such hard work to relax?
Kagge highlights the need to find silence without the use of apps, online sites etc but I am unsure whether he explores how difficult this is for most of us. He states that “Silence can be anywhere, any time…it’s just in front of your nose….” However, the impression is that he has tried many techniques. He describes his use of self-hypnosis to “disconnect”. His may have been a long road towards “rediscovering …the things that bring us joy…
Jon Kabat-Zinn writes that practising mindfulness is “..simple but not easy” . This is due, in part, to our expectation that when we begin to learn something we tend to expect an outcome and if that doesn’t happen quickly, we might wonder whether we are “doing it right..” (Wherever You Go, There You Are p.15 ). Meditation, he says is different. He describes it as “…not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you are already…” (ibid p14). He refers to a New Yorker cartoon:
“This is it”.. can be a lonely place for some and at sometimes more than others. Unrolling a yoga mat and not knowing where to start can be a huge deterrent to starting. All reasonable feelings. That’s why apps , online sites, cds etc may help to kick-start a useful habit. The easiest place to start is, I think, the 3 minute breathing space audio led by Professor Mark Williams of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. Jon Kabat -Zinn suggests pausing whilst reading his book “Staying with one full inbreathe as it comes in and one full outbreathe as it goes out, keeping your mind open and free for just this moment, just this breathe..”
in our yoga practice together we try to “let go” of the aspiration to “do” the full pose. Instead we try to sense how we feel moment by moment as we investigate movement. Again, perhaps more difficult when we are not in a class setting. Our preparation includes finding the feet, resting through the bones and then exploring our breathe. Hopefully there is no expectation at this point; at the beginning of our practice together. Jon Kabat-Zinn uses the word “practice” in a meditative sense and notes that it “doesn’t happen magically by itself. It takes energy..” Kabat-Zinn writes about how much energy it takes to begin to silence our minds – “..thoughts and impulses that run through the mind like a coursing river, if not a waterfall. We get caught up in the torrent..” Professor Mark Williams suggests that we “check the weather inside..” (3 minute Breathing Space).
As individuals we will respond to different approaches, techniques and practices. I outlined our approach to settling the body Relax and learn: the psoas 2 a few weeks ago and I have a list of apps and resources for your consideration I have not received any requests for the list thus assume that you are all content. If not, please shout – or, perhaps whisper – and I will forward.
Ending with Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of “practice”:
…learning how to get out of this current , sit by it’s bank and listen to it, learn from it and then use it’s energies to guide us rather than to tyrannize us…” Wherever You Go There You Are” p 9
I still think that we need all the help that we can get.