I was in our local college this morning and it was the first day of term for the new students. They get a week on their own to orientate themselves before the other students come back. There was a palpable buzz in the air, an energy that comes from the excitement of something fresh and new. A lot of us get that 'back to school' feeling when summer ends and autumn winds and colours fill our senses. It feels like a fresh start, time to do something different, to learn something new.
The difficulty often arises when we have settled in with our new interest, whether it's starting a new course at college, learning a new skill or taking up a hobby. When it becomes familiar and part of our routine, it can start to feel dull and mundane. When I first started practicing mindfulness it was exciting and different. There was the thrill of doing something new for the first time. I scoured the internet for the best mindfulness apps and websites, bought a mat, a singing bowl and a meditation stool. After a while, as I integrated my practice into my daily life, it started to feel normal, run of the mill, nothing special. I wondered how long it would be before I would feel the benefits of daily practice.
It took me a while to realise that the benefits were there already. The fact that I had been able to build practice into my daily routine to the point where it felt normal and natural to sit and meditate every morning was testament to the subtle power of mindfulness. I was getting so much benefit from it that I was doing it every day with barely a second thought. Now I'm at the point where I get a feeling that something isn't quite right if I don't meditate for a few days. It's a bit like the feeling you get when you are used to exercising regularly and you miss a few days. Meditation is an exercise for the mind and not doing it feels wrong to me now, like something is missing.
So if you are thinking of starting your own practice, taking up a hobby, learning a new skill or going back to school, stick with it and I'm sure the benefits will show themselves when you least expect it.
Don't forget to come and see us at The Big Cwtch festival this Saturday and get your free guided meditation session :)
Jo is a director of Mindful Future and an accredited Breathworks Mindfulness Teacher. Breathworks is one of the leading Mindfulness organisations in the UK