How can something be so simple and yet so challenging? As Sharon Salzberg states, “mindfulness is not difficult”, right? Or is it? I guess with all things so profound and deep we will discover the presence of a dialectic where it will contain (both/and) both simple and complex, easy and difficult, all at the same time. People often give up before really giving mindfulness a shot because there are so many preconceived notions and narrow views about mindfulness, meditation, and even yoga, often filled with images of monks sitting in a lotus posture or a perfectly sculpted body in tree pose. For most people the practices will be challenging from the start because the mind and the body are often moving at a pace that will generate discomfort, unease, or irritability as you attempt to focus attention and slow down.
I like to think of mindfulness as a muscle, and as a human being we all come equipped with the capacity to exercise, tone, and build our muscles. For the weak and less conditioned body, it will be difficult to repetitively lift a 45-pound weight, just as it will be difficult for a beginner in mindfulness practices to sit for a 45-minute meditation. What changes over time? If one lifts the weights regularly, they build up muscle strength and the stamina to increase the weight and duration. If one practices mindfulness daily, they too will build up mind strength to stay focused and present for longer durations. Again, as Sharon points out we need to “remember to do it”. The practices are simple and yet hard to discipline the body and mind to engage in the regular practices long enough to become a habit….it is only then that we can remember to be mindful just as we remember to wake up, to sleep, to eat, to brush our teeth, or to use the restroom. The state of mindfulness will become just like that of a satisfied belly, a good night sleep, or the comfort from a love one’s embrace. As your practice develops and you come to truly know and embody the state of mindfulness, there will eventually be a pang, or a sense in the mind and body when you get lost or caught up that will call you back to cushion, chair, mat, or walking practice. The return can be like coming home from an arduous, freezing mountain climb to find a warm fire and hot meal or for my fellow Floridians, like coming home from a brutally hot summer workday to a cool pool and an ice-cold lemonade. Ahhhhh…..home at last!
For me having the accountability and a support of a community, our Sacred Treehouse Sangha, motivates and inspires me to continue even during difficult periods of my life. For beginners, the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR, is a great way to get exposed to various practices with the support of a community for a long enough duration to cultivate a daily habit that allows you to feel the pang or sense in some way a calling back to mindfulness when you get caught up in the past or future (8 weeks to be exact). We all have those pangs or callings and sometimes we get fooled into feeding them cookies, or booze, or online shopping. Yet none of those things can satisfy us like the returning back home to mindfulness. When one learns to rest in awareness then one has found the path to where mind, body, and soul can be at peace, even amidst the challenges of life.
Don’t just believe me, try it for yourself and I mean really try it out, meaning make a full 8-week commitment and join us in 2021 to build a mindfulness practice and daily habit. Dr. Nikki Davis and I will be co-teaching a virtual LIVE class on Zoom and we look forward to having you join our community and gain the support you need to build a mindfulness practice that is right for you. If you are an MBSR graduate, look for our advanced offerings of Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) or take your practice off the cushion and into your life with “Live with Lizzie” in The Yoga of Living Course. Check it out HERE….after all- the point of daily practice is to wake up and bring mindfulness to living fully in presence. Stay tuned for a growing Sacred Treehouse community and more opportunities, both virtually and in person as 2021 unfolds.
May your holiday and new year celebration be safe,
May you be healthy and strong in mind and body,
May you be truly happy and content,
May you be peaceful and calm,
May you be filled with lovingkindness and compassion, and
May you live with ease.
With Love and gratitude,
Dr. Patty and The Sacred Treehouse Faculty
Patty Thomas Shutt, is the founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a Licensed Psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.