Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | February 3, 2013

A Mindfulness Coach

מפתחI think we all need a mindfulness coach in our lives.

For when we get stuck.

And seek advice on how to be.  On how to cope or behave in a difficult situation.

I know I need one.

And, I imagine this is the conversation that would be had….

Coach: Tell me the situation.

Me: ……………

Coach: And, what are you hanging on to in that situation?

Me:…………….

Coach: Can you recognize what you are missing because are you hanging on to that thing?

Me: No, I can’t see anything else.  I’m right in this situation.

Coach: Yes, but what are you being blinded by (the greater picture) because you are hanging on?  What do you miss seeing?  What’s the greater picture?  I’ll even push you and ask, Where can you find love in the situation?

Me: I see it.

Coach: So, can you let go of hanging on to whatever it is you are hanging on to?  Can you realize the benefit of letting go?  Can you appreciate that letting go will not only ease your suffering, but will be more beneficial than staying in the “right”?

Me: Yes.  I can.

Coach: Wonderful.  So, go practice.  And, when that thing (or another) arises again, call me.

Me:  Thank you.

Coach: You’re welcome.

Me: I love you.

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | February 3, 2013

How To Teach Mindfulness

live_love_teach_bag-p149481776085866480b23sx_400I just discovered something interesting about teaching mindfulness.

You don’t really need to teach it for people to learn it.

You could just model it.

You could just practice for your own sake and be confident that the world will be a better place because of it.

You could keep your mouth quiet, even when you are tempted to enlighten others.

As I was trying to guide a friend of mine to be a more mindful person this week, I realized that instead of helping her, I ended up hurting her.  She felt judged and could not hear the message I was trying to relay to her.

I had an opportunity to practice mindfulness, but I lost it.

The opportunity was not in the conversation that was had, but the conversation that was not had.

It was the opportunity for me to practice being mindful around her.

So, if you are a teacher of mindfulness, seeking to be one, or just want to make the world a better place with your efforts in being more mindful – May I make a suggestion?

Don’t teach unless you’re a faithful practitioner.

And then and only then, consider “spreading the light”.

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | December 24, 2012

NOTICING

Noticing-Mads-Boedker A good friend recently commented on one of my blog posts inquiring about the process of “letting go”.

What does that actually mean?  How does one do this?  How do you teach a child to “let go”?

I reread my post on detach.  My suggestion at the time was: when you notice yourself “stuck” or attached”, you should “choose to place your attention back on your object of attention” (e.g. the breath).

Yet, as I continue to develop my own practice, I feel the need to qualify my words.

By suggesting to “place your attention back”, I am, in a way, suggesting that the practice is about redirecting the mind.  Yet, that’s not what the practice is about at all.

Rather, this part of the practice is about noticing.

In a way it’s about accepting and totally being with whatever it is you are experiencing at that moment, whether it is something positive, exciting, negative, depressing, or none of the above.

It’s just about noticing it and taking precious moments to be with it.

When you take the time to just be with whatever is, you will soon see that it dissolves.  In time.  Effortlessly.

Why?  Because nothing lasts.  (Remember, impermanence?)

The “detaching” or “letting go” comes naturally, as you begin to just watch whatever it is that arises.

That, essentially, is the practice.

Now, go practice!

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | December 23, 2012

IMPERMANENCE

impermanenceNothing lasts forever.

And yet, we hold on to things as if they do.

We hold on to the good, desiring for it to stay.

We hold on to the bad, believing there could be nothing worse.

We forget about impermanence.

The practice of mindfulness is not linear.  It is not about starting at point “A” and arriving to point “B”.  It is NOT about achieving peace or happiness or satisfaction, even though they may arise as you “wake up”.

It is just about BEING.

Being when you are happy and on a high.

Being when you are depressed and on a low.

It’s just about riding the wave and not holding on to anything.

Because, why should you?  It won’t last anyway.

So, when I return to mindfulness after a little hiatus or come to a revelation about satisfaction and I am “flying high” with excitement about “waking up” again, please do me a favor, will you?  Remind me about impermanence.

 

 

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | December 18, 2012

SLIPPING

slipping-and-fallingIt’s amazing to me how quickly I slip back.

How I go back to my automatic way of living – rushing – multi-tasking – believing that the more I can accomplish in one day, the more emails I can respond to, the more work I can complete, the more, the more, the more….. the more fulfilled I will feel.

I am reminded time and time again…. it’s not true.

Thank you, Eckart Tolle, for reminding me this time…

Do you need more knowledge? Is more information going to save the world, or faster computers, more scientific or intellectual analysis? Is it not wisdom that humanity needs most at this time?

But what is wisdom and where is it to be found? Wisdom comes with the ability to be still. Just look and just listen. No more is needed. Being still, looking, and listening activates the non-conceptual intelligence within you. Let stillness direct your words and actions.”

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | December 11, 2012

SATISFACTION

satisfactionguaranteedWhen I take the time to “sit” each day, my day seems to flow better; I am more balanced; I have more patience for my husband and children;  I am a happier person.

Since my last blog post, I committed to returning to “sit” each day for at least 20 minutes, in silence, with no distractions.

For six days, I sat everyday at 8:00 AM for approximately half an hour.

Then, Friday came.

I teach yoga out of the house on Fridays at 8:30 AM and I did not have time for my regular sit.  I needed time to prepare the house for the class.  And, my stomach was rumbling and I knew I needed something to eat.

But, what about my sit?  I feared that if I missed it, my day would go awry.  Even worse, I felt like I was on a roll with this “sitting”, and if I didn’t sit one day, all of my efforts would have been for nothing.

But, I reminded myself that this practice is not about the rigidity of sitting, but about infusing this practice into everything we do.  In other words, whether I sit or not each day is not the final question, but whether or not I am committed to being fully present on a daily basis in as much of life as I possibly can.

So, I sat with my oatmeal.  I took my overflowing bowl to the couch and sat cross-legged with a blanket covering me.  I smelled the food.  I put a spoonful to my mouth.  I felt the temperature of the oatmeal.  I noticed the taste.  I felt the texture.  I noticed my chewing and swallowing.  I felt the food go down my throat.  All of this, with my eyes closed – and what felt like in slow motion.  I took another bite and ate in the same manner.  And after those two bites, I noticed how satisfied I was.  My stomach was satisfied.  My mind was satisfied.  I didn’t need anymore.

I put the bowl down for later.

I felt happy.

How simple.  How powerful.  How effortless.  How incredibly basic.

As this practice of mindfulness is taking on a new level for me, I am beginning to realize that the more we can be fully present in life, the more satisfaction we will derive from it.  And, the more satisfied we are, the happier we will be.

And, it’s all from within.

Nothing needed from the external world.

Just a willingness and commitment to practice being.

In as many moments as we can.

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | December 7, 2012

Mindfulness according to Linda

Amritsar day 1 - dec 3 Linda Gollub (above) is a fellow kibbutz member, friend, and my meditation teacher.  She offers a wealth of experience and wisdom to me and all who come in her presence.

Last week, Linda relayed to me her beautiful and simple response when someone asked to explain mindfulness and differentiate it with meditation.  She said,

“We all have thoughts and beliefs that are fixed.  With awareness, we can begin to see them as not fixed.  If I have this thought, then I can also have a different thought.  When we realize this, we are freed from just thinking habitually. This is being mindful.

Meditation is just practicing this.”

So simple.

Thank you, Linda.

Off to practice!

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | December 1, 2012

RETURNING

returning_home Returning.

It’s just part of the practice.

You can read about mindfulness.  You can blog about mindfulness.  You can try to convince others about the value of mindfulness.  You can be a part of a weekly mindfulness group.  You can even write a children’s book about mindfulness.

But, unless you are willing to practice – Regularly –  (And, by that I mean setting aside time, EVERYDAY)  – then you won’t really reap the benefits of the practice and whatever traits you are trying to cultivate, won’t surface in your life automatically.

Mindfulness is not a natural, human activity.

It’s a practice.

You can’t just talk about it.

And, even though I realize this, I also acknowledge that I tend to choose not to practice (probably because I convince myself I really don’t need to).  I convince myself that I “get it”, and as long as I get it, there’s no real reason to take 5, 10, 20 or 30 minutes out of any of my already overloaded days to just “sit”.

I acknowledge that I choose this.

So, I’m writing now to let you know that I am returning to my regular practice.

And with that, I’m returning to blogging about it.

Thanking you compassionately for your patience and understanding with my hiatus.

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | August 7, 2012

The Complete Model of Mindfulness – Part I

Model of Mindfulness Part I The image of my model of mindfulness illustrates simply and clearly the cyclical pattern that occurs when practicing mindfulness.

One places his attention on an object (breath, for example), becomes distracted (by a thought, sound, sensation, etc.) inevitably attaches to the corresponding thoughts that arose from the distraction, consciously chooses to detach from those thoughts, and returns again to attend to the object (the breath).

The model is represented by a funnel shape, illustrating that the more you are on this path of mindfulness, the more you “WAKE UP” into awareness.

As you practice, you realize you are in the same place you have always been (not necessarily deeper) and you realize your attention had been passing on thoughts, feelings, and sensations.  These are still around, but now in the background.

We can choose to pay attention to them; or simply leave them alone.

Then, we can rest in the peace of awareness and love (no matter how difficult the situation).

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | July 24, 2012

DETACH

According to my mindfulness model, a mindfulness meditation practice begins with placing your (bare) attention on an object. Inevitably a distraction will arise and you will react (attach) to it.

At this juncture (When you become aware that you are attached), you need to make a choice.

You will either choose to

1) Continue to stay attached to the thought(s) or

2) Detach from the thought(s)

You may wonder, why would someone continue to stay attached to their thoughts instead of returning to his object of attention (if this, afterall, is one of the purposes of the meditation)?  Lots of possible reasons like being unmotivated to practice, lacking discipline or belief in the practice and other hindrances which I will write about in future posts.

But, the focus of this post is understanding the concept of detach so let’s explore this idea now.

THE FOURTH STEP: DETACH

When one chooses to detach, he observes his attachments (as a witness would in an objective manner) non-judgmentally.

In other words, to detach, a person will consciously choose to place his attention back on his object (breath) non-judgmentally instead of staying “stuck”  or “attached” to other thoughts.

Detaching comes not in a passive resignation sort of way (i.e. acceptance), nor does it come in a negative way (i.e. denying, suppressing, or replacing thoughts).  It is simply noticing the nature of thoughts as thoughts and acknowledging their existence in a non-judgmental, compassionate way.

Considered the hallmark of the practice, detaching changes the relationship to the thought rather than changing the thought itself.

Additionally, detaching in a non-judgmental way differentiates the practice of mindfulness from any other practice of attention.  Detaching includes the added value of attitude (non-judgement) which distinguishes mindfulness from other practices.

So, the next time you practice (or perhaps try it now) allow yourself to sit for a few moments attending to the breath.  Once you notice the mind is no longer on the breath anymore, acknowledge where it is (in a non-judgmental way, as if you were a witness to your own thoughts) and return to your breath.

You may even consider saying (even out loud) to yourself, “There’s a thought” or “Here’s another thought”.  You may also find it helpful to acknowledge what kind of thought it is “That’s judgment” or  “That’s anger”.

And then come back to your breath.

It’s a simple concept.

But, believe me, it’s not easy and it takes a lot of practice.

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