Action Plan

All journeys begin by taking the first step. But in which direction? What’s the plan? Where do you go from here? Here are my suggestions.

1. Do your research

But not too much. There are many, many books about Mindfulness and many hundreds of scientific research studies demonstrating the effectiveness of Mindfulness. Reading or knowing about all that research won’t do one iota to actually make a difference. How much do you really need to know anyway? Consider just this one study where it was proven that people’s neurochemistry (brain functioning) and immunity improved as a result of practicing Mindfulness Meditation in an 8 week MBSR program. Aren’t the results of this one study alone enough to go forward? After all, your brain is like a central command headquarters. It is central to EVERY aspect of your functioning – your physical health, whether and how you heal, your moods, whether and how you generate stress, it controls the chemical processes in your body – from digestion to endorphins. If your brain were to improve, it stands to reason that everything would benefit as a result. I’ve known people that forever go on reading, talking, asking questions, and never actually doing Mindfulness. Like physical exercise, the benefits of mindfulness will only come about by doing it. Actually, the same is true about understanding Mindfulness. Real understanding only comes about by experiencing it. It’s like a colourblind person trying to understand what colour is. No amount of reading will ever come close to the moment when they can open their eyes and actually see colour for themselves.


2. Find a teacher that’s right for you

These days, there are quite a few Mindfulness Meditation teachers around. Many of them are undoubtedly quite good. Check them out. Talk to them. Find out who they are and what their experience is. I believe a good teacher is one that is able to teach from their own direct and deep experience of Mindfulness as opposed to primarily from an intellectual understanding of the practice. A good teacher is someone who has, and continues to walk the talk. In addition and as a result of every teacher having had their own unique experience of Mindfulness, they also have their own unique own style and language in teaching Mindfulness. For example, my own primary teacher (Shinzen Young), has a strong scientific/mathematical interest and background. I really connected with him, probably because of my own engineering background. For others, teachers that use more poetic language might be more appealing. Find a teacher that you can relate to – one that speaks your language – one that you feel comfortable with.


3. Kick the tires

Few people are willing to commit to an 8 week program without knowing a little more – without getting a taste of Mindfulness. After all, for most people, an 8 week program is a serious commitment. I give introductory talks and introductory sessions for this purpose. I feel it’s important that people get all their questions answered, that they get the chance to voice any concerns, and that they get to experience a Mindfulness Meditation firsthand. Of course, in the process, they also get to decide whether I’m the right teacher for them. There is little to no risk in this step.  If you’re interested in checking me out – pick up the phone or send an email and get on with it! You have nothing to lose.


4. Decide and commit

You’ve done your research, you’ve chosen a teacher, your questions have been answered. So what’s holding you back now? Nothing will happen until you take this last step – make the decision and a strong commitment to do something. Deciding to do a program is not enough. A strong commitment is also necessary because it is highly likely that within a few weeks, you will begin to have doubts. Doubts like: you’re too busy right now and you should wait until later to start; or, this is the wrong kind of meditation; or, you’re too young, you should wait until you’re older; or, you’re too old, you should have done it when you were younger. Endless excuses for not going through with it. Be reassured, it’s normal if this happens – in fact, it’s almost expected. A strong commitment is needed to stick with it, if and when the doubts come up. The benefits from practicing MINDFULNESS take some time before you start to feel them. Once again, it’s like going to the gym to work out. You wouldn’t expect to see benefits right away. In fact, if you’re out of shape, the first few times going to the gym will probably make you feel worse.  A MINDFULNESS-BASED STRESS REDUCTION (MBSR) program is typically eight weeks long. There’s good reason for that. The benefits start to become apparent towards the end of the program. I usually hear reports of positive change starting to happen around the fifth or sixth week. Make a commitment to do the full 8 weeks.