Quitting The Quick-Fix: Mindfulness As A Lifelong Practice
This year marks my 10-year mindfulness anniversary, since I first went on an 8-week ‘Mindfulness for Stress’ course. And I think I’m learning more now than I ever have.
When I embarked on the course, dedicating a whole 2 months to something felt like quite a big undertaking. We live in such a quick-fix culture, and with so many approaches that promise instant stress relief, I guess I thought that an 8-week mindfulness course must get me sorted by the end of it, right?
Well, thankfully I had access to great teachers who helped me realise that to really get the benefits, I’d need to approach mindfulness as an ongoing practice, not a quick fix.
As a mindfulness teacher now myself, I realise that we don’t believe that anyone who comes to a class needs ‘fixing’ anyway. It’s about becoming more human (not less so), and finding ways to live this human life with greater ease.
In my case, I’d tried so many quick fixes for anxiety during my 20s, but mindfulness is the only thing that’s stuck, and continues to ‘work’. It’s a total gamechanger.
And it doesn’t just ‘work’, it continues to develop, as I deepen my meditation practice. Even after 10 years, I’m still learning so much. About myself. About life. It’s helped me enormously so far, and yet in some ways I feel like I’m only just getting started, and I’m eager to keep exploring.
The first big shift for me was finding freedom from anxiety. Currently, my practice is helping me to open to a more joyful life. Looking at all the positive changes in me over the last decade, who knows how the practice might change me even more deeply, given another 10 years?
So I think it’s important that mindfulness doesn’t become something that we tick off and forget about. While an 8-week course is a great starting point, it’s definitely not an end point: mindfulness is a life-long practice. Remembering this can be really helpful once the course stops, because life doesn’t stop.
While there’s no defined end point to reach in our practice, there is a constant development. We don’t talk about ‘getting better’ at mindfulness, but rather ‘going deeper’ in our practice… getting to know ourselves more intimately, so that we can find increasingly greater ease and freedom, even when life is difficult.
This ongoing development is why I teach classes throughout the year, to support a growing community of people who continue to explore together and make new discoveries.
Some of these insights are that mindfulness isn’t about controlling our feelings, fixing ourselves, or getting rid of so-called negative emotions. Instead, it’s about becoming more comfortable with the full range of our human experience. This is a gradual – but transformative – process. It’s profoundly freeing. But reversing the patterns we’ve built up over decades can’t happen instantly.
So, if you have the courage to keep exploring, to commit to going deeper in your practice, then you’ll discover this freedom for yourself. If you ask me, it’s totally worth it!
If you liked this piece, you might also be interested in this one that emerged as a kind of ‘part 2’ – Committing To Self-Kindness