Hi Team,

What better way is there to break the ice on the vexed topic of mindfulness than to use a quote from one of my favourite childhood characters Pooh Bear?

"What day is it? asked Pooh
 It's today. Squeaked Piglet
 My favourite day! Said PoohAA Milne

The whole concept of mindfulness is really very simple, but it is actually quite difficult to practice consistently and effectively. My understanding of mindfulness is that it is all about being in the moment and not thinking about the past or the future, but purely focusing all your attention on the present moment and your direct surroundings. This takes a considerable amount of self-control and a lot of consistent practice to become useful and effective. But like anything worthwhile in life, if you put in the work and commit yourself to practicing mindfulness regularly, it can potentially solve a lot of life's struggles and pitfalls.

"Meditation is like a good restaurant. Once you have been there, you want to come back because it was so good. Once you have tried it and you've realized there is something there, you want to return to it again and again." Don Johnson (No not the one from Miami Vice!)

The hardest part of meditation is actually doing it. I have found that there are always so many other things that take priority and end up getting in the way of my intended meditation. Over time I have realized that there are certain conditions that just don't work for me. For example, I have found that I cannot meditate on weekends or holidays. It only works for me if it is part of my workday routine. I also have to be out of the office and away from external distractions. So, I usually park my car somewhere quiet (often in parking areas near a park in Caulfield), I put my phone on silent mode and spend about 30 minutes each day practicing meditation. I generally use an app, such as "Headspace" and prefer to do "guided meditation". I'll admit that some days are better than others and some days I really struggle to do it properly. But what I have learnt after doing meditation for a few years, is that there is no such thing as "bad meditation" and that consistency is what really matters. Some weeks I will only get one or two meditation sessions done, and it is these infrequent sessions that I find the most difficult and unrewarding.

"The biggest generator of long term results is doing things when you don't feel like doing them." Unknown

My understanding is that everyone that tries to practice meditation on a regular basis faces the same daily challenges, which are; self-doubt (am I doing this right?), motivation, restlessness + distractions, falling asleep, impatience and irritation and trying too hard or not trying hard enough. It is this constant personal struggle with your own mind that makes meditation and mindfulness so important and worthwhile. It often takes many years of consistent practice or even a lifetime to achieve a meaningful level of clarity and calmness through meditation, but it's really all about the journey not the destination.
As I alluded last week, it is very difficult to describe what it is like to meditate and what the benefits are from doing it. But Don Johnson sums it up for me pretty well as follows.

"I approach meditation like I'm going on an adventure. I have no idea what will happen. I just show up and be ready to receive whatever comes." Don Johnson

Thanks for reading,
Stay safe and meditate.

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