Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters


Art of the Gentle Return

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

Ari.jpgThe other day, my former UVM student Ari led the meditation at the Exquisite Mind Psychotherapy and Meditation Studio in Burlington, Vermont. He gave us a lovely little reminder of how to practice. He invited a view of practice as the “gentle return” and quoted Pema Chodron as saying this return should be regarded as “No Big Deal.”

That is, return to now from wherever without recrimination, condemnation, or even disappointment. Just pick up the breath and body wherever it is and continue. “No big deal.” And this, of course, is a choice. We can make a big deal of it or not.

Gentleness can prevail whether we have to come back once or a thousand times. After all, what else do you have to do? You’re already on the cushion, so why not come back with gentleness?

Of course, “no big deal” applies to off the cushion as well. When you find yourself caught up in some story that’s making you feel bad, just come back to something happening now like your breath and body sensations.

Thanks Ari and go gentle!



  • Ellie

    Ari’s leadership at Thursday’s session was just what I needed to settle my mind. He has a peaceful demeanor, and I absorbed his gentleness. My tendency is to be hard on myself when I can’t find focus, but his reminder that it’s “no big deal” took the pressure off. An effective meditation. Many thanks.

  • Colleen

    Beautiful, simple, empowering idea. As you insightfully say Doctor Kozak,”and this, of course, is a choice”:>)

  • Ari Fishkin

    Im so glad you all found the ideas helpful and encouraging! It’s an honor to share thoughts and sangha space with everyone who comes to meditate. Many thanks for the positive feedback!
    – Ari

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment My Name

    A good, sound, non-sensical and easily and realistically achievable approach. And, as with many good things, a lot easier said than done. An irresistible challenge! No fuss, just do it. What I particularly find engaging is the thought that by ‘just doing it’, you eliminate in one go the tendency to seek attention, which is the trap I usually fall into. ‘Just do it – no big deal’ means, for me, just going ahead and not minding what anyone else might think or how anyone else might see me (while I’m doing it), and not having to tap myself on the shoulder with ‘Well done!’ Which makes a lot of sense, of course, since we didn’t come into this world just for the sole purpose of impressing anyone, even ourselves. Living now is living now, that’s all it is. Great insight! Thanks!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment My Name

    Sorry for the above … I meant SENSIBLE and not nonsensical … :>))

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