Mindfulness Practice


I’ve been trying to practice mindfulness more regularly. This practice was made easier, because a drop-in meditation studio opened near my house. You can swing in silk hammocks, feeling weightless, while the instructor guides the practice in a soothing voice.

The first time I went, I fell asleep in the hammock for the entire hour. I woke up to the soothing sound of singing bowls. I felt a little guilty. I had asked my husband to watch the girls so that I could go to this class and basically snuck away to take a nap.

The second time I was more focused (in other words, awake) and tried to follow the instructions the guide was offering.  “…As thoughts go through your mind, watch them go by like clouds…” It was fascinating as I began to attend to how quickly my mind jumped from one thought to the other.

I decided it was a good idea for me to practice this and became a member of the studio, signing a commitment for six months. I went fairly regularly for about two weeks. Then I began to slip from the routine.  We took a big family vacation, I had been extra busy at work, the girls had been sick, we had begun to remodel our guest bathroom. There was no time to swing in hammocks.

I started to get calls from the studio, “Hello, we haven’t seen you in a while. Please come in, so you can get the most out of your mindfulness practice.”  “Hello, it’s been three weeks since you last attended a class. Regular practice is the best way to build these skills. Please make an appointment.” “Hello, could you please call us so we can discuss when you will be able to come in next?” “Hello, would you like us to book an appointment for you?”

I felt myself becoming annoyed. I would see their number come up on my phone and frown, firmly pushing the “decline” button. A few minutes later a message would show on my phone that I had a new voicemail. Stop it, stop harassing me, I would hiss under my breath.

I felt torn. Part of me did want to go swing on those hammocks again; another part of me was so annoyed with them that I wanted to send a curt email saying, “Cancel my membership.”

I was working from a coffee shop when yet another phone call came in. Raising my hand to click the red “decline” button, I suddenly paused and realized that this was the opportunity to practice mindfulness. I saw the call come through, visualized that stern little voicemail message printed on a cloud going by. I noticed it, let it pass through my mind and gently brought my attention back to the work I was doing on my laptop. Oh, you clever clever studio, I thought. Well played. The hammocks are just a cover for the real mindfulness training service this membership is providing.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.