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Angela Melzer / Meditation / January 19, 2018
You see mindfulness everywhere, the newspapers, 60 Minutes, and medical schools.  And yes, even a law school or two has prescribed to the idea that mindfulness is the best way to cultivate good lawyers.  The company, Google, has a mindfulness professional titled: “Sr. Manager, Well Being and High Performance Learning”. Oprah Winfrey jumped on the mindfulness bandwagon and has done some spectacular 21 day mindfulness challenges with Deepak Chopra. And the list goes on and on……
So what is mindfulness and what are the components that aren’t so sexy about practicing it?  I’m a licensed clinical social worker who has a background in occupational therapy. I practice mindfulness based counseling and coaching, and have been meditating daily since 2007.  Yes, that means I’m a new meditator.  It’s kind of like living in a ski town (which I do – Steamboat Springs, Colorado).  Nobody is a local unless you homesteaded the land and birthed your first child in a chuck wagon.
The definition of mindfulness is to kindly participate in your present moment with acceptance.  This is different from being present.  You can be present and still judge the situation, the people in it or your own actions or thoughts.  THIS IS NOT MINDFULNESS.    You must be present to be mindful, but you don’t need to be mindful to be present.  This is hard work and requires you to be aware of your thoughts.
There is a difference between mindfulness and meditation.  We use meditation in a formal practice to become more aware of our thoughts, beliefs and actions.  Mindfulness is a result of the work we do in our meditation.  We usually can’t have one without the other.
You will hear people say, “I can’t meditate, my brain is too busy”- that’s right! Meditating can and will be hard because most of us do have busy brains.  The unsexy part about meditation is that the brain is really busy and it can feel impossible when you start, and you will have an occasional busy brain for the rest of your meditating life.  It’s okay that it’s hard; every time you meditate you are in the process of changing your brain and calming down your sympathetic nervous system.
Meditation doesn’t have to look like happy young yoga people sitting on rocks by the ocean in black pants and a colorful tight tank top.  For some of my clients, it’s idling in their cars in front of the house before coming inside to the chaos.  For other clients, it’s lying down in bed because of back pain or other illnesses.  And yet again, it can be sitting and feeling like a war in our heads because of a busy day.  Let meditation be something that works for you.
Let yourself relax around some of the misconceptions and try it on for a while.  Mindfulness is not always sexy but it is a game changer, a life-long commitment and worth every bit of struggle and effort. Through mindfulness we gain peace, contentment and kindness in our lives and in the lives of those we love.

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