Probably a decade ago, when I was sure I had depression, but not what to do about it, I read Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It’s one of the best known books about mindfulness meditation, and I had read elsewhere that meditation can help.
This was also the book that set me down the path of yoga. It’s become a cliché for people without mental illness to suggest yoga and meditation to people with. But as with most clichés, there is truth at the centre. My practice helped me feel better. I still need medication, but I did feel better.
It’s been two years since I completed my yoga teacher training. After going through that kind of intense experience with other people, I’ve found it difficult to recreate on my own. Going to classes isn’t affordable right now. The motivation to sit at home is a struggle, even with all the equipment.
But I always have my breath. My sadhana practice probably doesn’t look like much on the outside, but the most important word in “mindfulness meditation” is the first one.
Today, I finished reading Full Catastrophe Living, Kabat-Zinn’s 1990 book that came out of his mindfulness clinic at the University of Massachusetts Hospital. I took my time with this book, starting it at the end of last year, then picking it up again this month. If you’re brand new to the practice, it’s perfect.
But for me, this book felt like a 350 page reminder of my lapse. As I read closer to the end, my motivation grew, and when I put it down, I picked up my phone and deleted Slack, YouTube, and my browsing history in Safari. I almost deleted Mail, and I still might.
It’s been two weeks at my parents’s house, a place where I feel safe and comfortable, but also the place where I was living during the worst of my depression. Sometimes, being here feels oppressive. I feel myself sinking.
My favourite thing about mindfulness practice is that you can’t fail. Sit any way you like, and bring your attention to your breath. If you notice your attention wandering, bring it back. If it’s been a long time since you last practiced, you only have to bring your attention to your breath. It’s always there for you.