mindfulness starts here

September 29th, 2013

deep+waterWhen I first began my practice, I was already lying inert at the bottom of the deep end. Life’s triple decker of despair—heartbreak, grief and depression—had sent me plummeting into the murky realms. On the way down, I tried to rouse myself with the usual prescriptions, but nothing could reach. So when I bumped into a Zen teacher who reminded me how to breathe, it saved my life. Breath gave me the buoyancy to rise to the surface where I could float, and later, find the strength to swim. Breath always does that.

Not everyone comes to practice in the same sloppy way. Not everyone is as far gone as I was, in dire need of resuscitation. Some folks are holding onto the side of the pool, knuckles whitening, but still alert and awake enough to realize, “Perhaps I should give some serious thought to taking some swimming lessons.”

There’s a new book out that is like a set of swimming lessons.

Lynette Monteiro and Frank Musten have kindly packaged an eight-week mindful course into a single volume, Mindfulness Starts Here: An Eight Week Guide to Skillful Living. It includes the practices, explanations, encouragement and accountability you would find if you participated in a mindfulness course like the kind they lead at the Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic. And here’s what I really like: it also includes the people. The authors pair their artful instructions with real-life commentary from the students in their classes—students who might as well be you, facing the fear, doubt, resistance and even overconfidence we carry with us into the water. This is what I like best about this eminently likeable work: the human voices and stories reminding us that this practice isn’t academic or intellectual. It isn’t a course of self-improvement or just a tool for a toolkit. Mindfulness is not a seasoning, a flavor or a fad. It is life—your life—and it starts here. It starts wherever you are.

I’m still in the deep end, you know. We’re all in the deep end. But this much I know: I’m breathing.

Leave a comment on this post and I’ll draw a winner for a free, brand-new copy of Mindfulness Starts Here next Sunday, Oct. 6.

And in case you think you still don’t have the time, place, or teacher to begin your practice, look right here. There is water, water, everywhere.

The Plunge One-Day Retreat in Boise Sat., Oct. 5
Yoga & Meditation Retreat, Washington DC, Sat. & Sun., Oct. 19-20
Beginner’s Mind One-Day Retreat, LA, Sun., Nov. 10

If money is what’s stopping you from starting at these or any of my programs anywhere in the country, please contact me privately for help. Even a little help can help enough. Money never gets in the way of the Dharma, and that’s how you can tell what’s true.

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  1. Love the description of this book and your story about the deep end…I hang out there periodically for sure.

    Comment by Angie — October 1, 2013 @ 7:23 am

  2. Thanks for the opportunity! A mindfulness practice is something I want to pass down to my children one day.

    Comment by Kelly — October 1, 2013 @ 9:02 am

  3. Breathing sounds really good.

    Comment by Jodie — October 1, 2013 @ 9:58 am

  4. Simple enough. But who is breathing?

    Comment by Neeraja — October 1, 2013 @ 11:15 am

  5. As a homeschooling mom to a 7-yr old, 5-yr old and 9-month old, I am feeling that I very much need this right now. Thank you – and will read regardless!

    PS – I dearly loved Momma Zen and Hand Wash Cold.

    Comment by Jeannine — October 1, 2013 @ 11:19 am

  6. I was sinking to the bottom of the pool too. It’s funny how when you float, the water’s still there, you’re just not fighting it anymore.

    Comment by Aruna — October 1, 2013 @ 10:23 pm

  7. yes, please! always good to be here. thanks for the chance for the book, and thank you for sharing yourself.

    Comment by lindsay — October 2, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

  8. When I teach water aerobics I frequently remind my students (all older folks – like me) to breath. I need to remember to do this when I’m on dry land!
    After many years of study I still have ‘don’t know’ mind, but without a local sangha it is hard. Your blog helps so much.
    I would love to have this book to help me stay on the path.

    Comment by Jude Smith — October 3, 2013 @ 4:09 am

  9. A very dear friend has passed your name on to me and I am already benefitting from your wise guidance. Sr. Janeen Julian

    Comment by Janeen Carrell — October 3, 2013 @ 9:58 am

  10. I have been hesitant to try any sort of program due to the time commitment (I am happily dedicated to my two young children at home), but this sounds like the perfect opportunity to get my feet wet. Thanks for the heads up and keep the inspirational material coming!

    Comment by Jen — October 3, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

  11. enjoy your writing very much. thank you for the encouragement.

    Comment by shelly frank — October 13, 2013 @ 7:30 pm

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