How I learned to accept mindfulness is a ‘practice’ and not a ‘perfect’
By Cristin M., a buddhify user since 2012
Like many people, Cristin began meditating to keep her anxiety in check. But unlike most, she didn’t start by sitting. As a runner, yogi, and cycle commuter, she found active meditation to be a more natural path into practice.
I came into meditation as a means to help with my anxiety. I’ve always struggled with both depression and anxiety — it’s never been what I would classify as severe, but I’ve had periods where things were difficult. I had gone the medication route, but it didn’t feel right so I looked to alternative methods. I found cognitive behavioural therapy, being active (I run, do yoga, pole fitness, and cycle commute), and meditation were good ways to manage and cope.
With the meditation piece, I initially hit a roadblock. I had problems just sitting still and breathing, mostly because anxiety monsters would enter my mind. The little voices would say “You’re not meditating well enough”, “You’re not doing this right”, “Your breathing is wrong,” and things of that sort. This kept me from sitting.
Active meditations quieted those demons straight-away.
Luckily, I discovered walking and travel meditations. Active meditations quieted those demons straight-away. Focusing on my movement, focusing on my tasks, that pulled me straight out. Learning tricks to be mindful and knowing I could walk, stand, and be present kept the anxiety monsters at bay.
In terms of evolution, I can actually do sitting meditations now on my own as well, because of the techniques I have learned over six years of meditating. Growth has come through gentle reminders and forgiving myself if this time around felt imperfect or uncomfortable — accepting my experience will change each time. I also accept that mindfulness is a ‘practice’ and not a ‘perfect’!
Recently I missed my yoga class. I wrote the time down wrong. It happens. Back six years ago, I would’ve been in hysterics because this yoga class is really good. The instructor is incredible and it’s exercise, meditation, and mindfulness — the whole package. Instead of breaking down, I went straight home, dealt with what I could control (making sure my calendar had the right times for next class), and then sat for a bit to breathe.
Growth has come through gentle reminders and forgiving myself if this time around felt imperfect.
Using mindfulness, I acknowledged my sadness and anger, and I also forgave myself for a simple error — it happens. I then spent time with my breath, which was fast, and worked through what was happening in the present moment. I accepted I was ‘practicing’ and not ‘perfect’ and I was able to keep myself in check.
I focus on goals to help with anxiety and I work annually to review how I’m doing. I’ve set a reasonable target to spend 5 minutes ‘meditating’ however I choose — travelling, walking, or right before bed. For everyday stress, like when my mind is flooded with all the things I need to do, making time for practice helps me to let go of the noise and chatter in my head in a kind way.
Meditation also continues to get me through flare-ups and difficult spots. If I’m actively struggling with anxiety or depression, especially when I’ve had an event trigger an attack or need to retreat, mindfulness is part of my coping strategy.
Creating space, exploring the uncomfortable or worry in a gentle way — that’s where I can usually calm whatever my anxiety monsters have come up with at the moment.
I actually have written down the phrase ‘I am the sky’ and keep it posted as a reminder to the Rain meditation. It’s important to remember emotions come and go but I can find a fixed point, especially when things get stormy in my head. Creating space, exploring the uncomfortable or worry in a gentle way — that’s where I can usually calm whatever my anxiety monsters have come up with at the moment.
Cristin M. is based in Oxford, England. She likes to clear her head with ‘This’ or ‘Flex’ from Travelling 1 and ‘Still’ or ‘Step’ from Walking 1.
If you feel you have learnt something important through your meditation practice and you’d like your share your insight or experience, we’d love to hear from you. Let Dana know via email@example.com and she’ll get in touch.