• Jeff Brenneman

Out of Practice

I have a confession to make. Now, because I’m me, I also took care to do something to show that I’m changing before I’m making this confession.


I have really fallen down in my meditation practice. My mindfulness practice has fallen way down as well. And, I have to admit, I notice a difference. I don’t want there to be a difference. I want to be fine, to be handling things just as well, to be on top of my game and a model of how to be. Yes, I want to be perfect.


There are a number of you, too, who want or feel like you need to be perfect. It is not a possibility, and what’s more, it’s not even really desirable. My wife has said to me many times over the years when this issue pops up for me, “No one expects you to be perfect, and no one would like you if you were.” So, my job, really, is to get my mind and body okay with not being perfect. With making mistakes and admitting those. With owning the behaviors, the consequences, and making small changes to improve.


After my silent mindfulness retreat, I was meditating every day for 20 mins. I did that for a week and a half, I think. Then there were multiple days of 10 mins. Then sporadically 10 mins. Then some 5 mins, a 10 min occasionally. Then there were days and weeks I did not meditate at all. Just before sitting down to write this, I did a 10 minute meditation.


I sat and focused on my breathing, let my eyes go about half closed, let my vision go blurry and paid attention to sitting in the chair. Over the past several weeks, there have been many things that have happened that have brought meditation to my mind. Multiple people mentioning it, I think I heard a sermon that mentioned meditation, etc. Every time, I had the thought ‘I need to do that again,’ and then did not practice. Well, I was listening to something this morning and they started talking about meditation and I finally got to the point where I guess I was sick of hearing about it and feeling ‘bad’ that I had not been practicing.


So, I had the thought I should do a post, and that I really had to do the meditation first. I think just admitting without doing the meditation felt a little too vulnerable. As a DBT therapist, I’m used to ‘getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.’ Except, I still don’t really like it.


So, professionally I do lots of things that make me a little uncomfortable, and when I am away from work that task gets harder. I don’t like being uncomfortable, and maybe you can agree with that. Emotional discomfort, physical discomfort, feeling disconnected from others, etc, I don’t like it. I know, theoretically, that mindfulness meditation helps with all of that, that we must walk through the discomfort in order to experience comfort. I’ve practiced that in my life over and over and over again. And I still have this thing inside me that subconsciously says to just put it off a bit, maybe it will go away, or ‘I just can’t do that right now.’


What I’ve noticed about mindful meditation is that, over time, it seems to make me more okay with experiencing temporary discomfort and really helps me feel more grounded, peaceful, and able to handle everything in my life. I’m able to experience the moment more, so there’s more of the feelings I like. I can be present with the people I’m with and I tire less easily from interactions (more of an introvert here, so being with people takes a different kind of energy.)


And it’s still easy to get away from my formal mindfulness practice, even though I know (both the head knowledge and the experience knowledge) that it is very beneficial. So, I meditated for 10 mins this morning. I’m committing to do 10 mins a day and I know it will be difficult. Here’s what I’m also committing to doing: Being gentle with myself when I inevitably mess up and don’t do the meditation.


Hope this helped someone out there. If not, pretty sure it helped me to write it, so there’s that.


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