Apologies in advance for this quick self-promotional update, brought to you by…. Practical Mindfulness (cue stereotypic announcer voice….”if you’ve got a mind, try….”)  The book seems to be doing some good, registering in ways I’d hoped for.  I’m gratified by the feedback I’ve gotten about PM making meditation more practical and accessible, and about the informal, irreverent tone taking some of the forbidding orthodoxy out of getting a practice going and sustainable.

Gluttons for more blogging?  One other bit of promotional news:  I’m teaming up with the mass market Psychology Today magazine for a blog on their online site.  It’s called “Your Mindfulness Toolkit.”  If you’ve been to the PT site, you may be aware that they host many such sites across the spectrum of human behavior, including a number of blogs on mindful practices – mindful parenting, mindful eating, mindful clogging, mindful Esperanto (Mindless Esperanto being a growing problem. Also, a great name for an indie band.)   

To make my own blogging effort (bleffort?) more useful and relevant, I intend to lean more toward a “teaching the teachers” vibe, helping professionals in medicine, psychotherapy, and education employ meditation for their own benefit but especially to gain facility in conveying the basics to patients and students.  Some posts there will recycle build off ideas developed on this site.  I would expect that the “pull back the curtain” quality on how to employ these skills and tools will also help “civilian” meditators.  After all, each of us have an opportunity to educate others whether formally in work settings, or informally by modeling calm attention and adaptation in or relationships, parenting, and public interactions.  You can find that blog here. 

For this week’s PM blog, it’s back to basic tactical work in getting a meditation practice going.  A few weeks back, I went on about a “starter routine” to help set some optimal conditions:  Here – We- Go (HWG).  These are a familiar trio of reminders to attend to three common complications of starting practice: beginning without being settled in place, feeling lonely and disconnected, and working without some basic intention. 

Bookends tend to come in pairs, lest there be a domino effect, in theory, at the other end of the collection.  In this case, bookending a three-wheeze starting routine is a finishing trio of belly breaths: 

There- We – Are. TWA. 

These help “land the plane” (heh) with a mindful noting of the end of a session. Especially in the solitary practicing that most of us do, it can be easy to spring up off the cushion or out of the chair as the timer goes off, leaving whatever just happened in the dust.  Instead, consider a brief deliberation to reiterate that landscape of mind, a final symbolic nod to a shared goal of peace and adaptation; and a final, brief screen of one’s state, especially attending to anything novel or memorable in the exercise just done to contemplate, write down, think about later. So…

Big breath one: There.  Pull up from the observation of the breath and note your surroundings. There you are.

Big breath two:  We.  As we finish the sitting, note those silent partners, practicing out there somewhere.  We is quick reminder that we all belong to that team, we all aspire to feel calmer, more connected, more aware.

Last breath: (there we….) Are.  Before you pop up off the chair or cushion, Take a last little check of how you are – body, heart, head, a brief snapshot courtesy of capacity of awareness; and what resonates from the practice now finished.  Then off to whatever you got next.

There you are; I hope that helps.

Take care, and keep up the staying safe bit for yourselves and others.