Who is feeling mindful today? Some days are better than others, right? Occasionally, I get wrapped up in an emotion or a situation and even though I know I am not being mindful in that moment, it is so difficult to snap myself out of it.
Just such an occasion that happened yesterday comes to mind. We are dog sitting the rest of this week for an adorable pup named Tessa (I am loving every minute in doggie heaven!). Preparing for our arrival yesterday, I packed up a bag of our essentials and schlepped it about 45 minutes across Stockholm to take a yoga class in Ostermalm before walking over to the apartment where we are staying. I settled in, took Tessa out for a walk, and went to get my iPad out of my bag so that I could work on my playlist for my yoga class, and write a blog post. My iPad was essential to these activities and it was not in my bag. I remembered that I took it out at the last minute to type up an email and left it sitting on the kitchen table - all the way in Farsta Strand. If this was a mindfulness test, I failed. I was upset at myself that I had been so lost in my own head when leaving Farsta that I forgot to repack my iPad and then just could not get over how annoyed I was by the fact that my afternoon wasn't going as seamlessly as I had hoped. I got carried away in my emotions and the scenario put me in a bad mood the whole 90 minute trip out to Farsta and back again. I knew that I needed to let it go and that I should separate my feelings of annoyance and upset from myself but I just couldn't do it. Finally, after returning and playing with Tessa for a little I was okay and back in a positive mindset. That small incident though just got me all tangled up!
So, my point in telling this story is that this meditation and mindfulness business is not a 'one and done' type of thing. It is a constant, daily, steady practice to which we must stay dedicated. A core principal in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras speaks about Abhyasa and continuos practice:
Abhyasa means having an attitude of persistent effort to attain and maintain a state of stable tranquility (1.13). To become well established, this needs to be done for a long time, without a break (1.14). From this stance the deeper practice continues to unfold, going ever deeper towards the direct experience of the eternal core of our being.
There are no quick fixes, cure-alls, or short-cuts in the pursuit of mental tranquility. To look at this through another lens, think about how hard we work when we go to the gym everyday to lose fat and build up muscle. Even if we attain our physical goals, it is so difficult to maintain them. A few weeks off, a vacation where we drink and eat whatever we want, and we almost have to start all over again the next time we step on the treadmill. In order for us to continue on our spiritual journey we must make time for it every single day. Just 10 minutes a day, everyday, is far better than one hour one time a week. Over time, we will begin to see the positive changes in our mental states, our relationships and in the world around us. Don't give up! And remember that small victories lead to big victories.
So, for this week maintain the seated meditation practice and being mindful of your thoughts and actions throughout the day. If we slip up, it is okay as long as we have that constant, steady, practice to return back to day after day.