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 … :>))

Previous Posts

Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion
My dharma friend and mindfulness colleague, Elisha Goldstein has a fascinating new book out. It describes the ways that we can harness our own healing power to create natural antidepressants. These five include mindfulness, of course, self-compassion, living in accordance with purpose, play, and a s

posted 12:42:14pm Jan. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Find Your GPS for Success
GPS has become part of our lives. We find it in our cars, our phones, and even in watches (I got one as a gift over the holidays). In any moment, we can know where we are and also communicate that information to others. GPS can be helpful for getting to a destination and lends itself as a metaphor f

posted 11:02:53am Jan. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Getting Past the Tyranny of Should: A Timely Message for the Holiday Season
There are many things we "should" be doing around the holidays. We should be happy, merry, and jolly. We should be with family. We should be the consummate hosts. In the course of the day, we might impose expectations, rules, and agendas on ourselves tirelessly. This is the tyranny of should.

posted 10:36:45am Dec. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Finding the Fall Line: The Technique of Practice
As I was meditating this morning, I came up with a new practice metaphor. There were times when I was clearly in the flow of my body, very attuned the myriad body sensations and there were other moments where I was somewhere else or trying to manage some aspect of the moment, almost as if I was tryi

posted 10:13:53am Dec. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Prime Time, All the Time
An add for television streaming service Hulu states, "Every minute of every day should be considered prime time." This clever quip has a double meaning. On the one hand, it reflects the tyrannical notion that every experience that we have should be exciting, entertaining, and novel. On the other han

posted 9:31:08am Dec. 08, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.