Several years ago, I took a mindfulness meditation class and the concept of “Begin Again” became an integral part of my daily life. In meditation, when your mind starts to wander and you recognize the distraction, the phrase Begin Again is often used to bring your attention back to your breath. This act of “awareness and return” IS the practice of meditation. It gave me permission to mess up repeatedly without beating myself up (a useful tool for recovering perfectionists!).
The Begin Again concept is simple, and, like most profound things, immensely difficult to master. The idea isn’t new — of course we begin again after we fail. Yet, somehow in this context, in the safe place of meditation, those two simple words allowed me to exhale more deeply, let go of some of the daily stress, and settle into my body offering myself permission to get distracted over and over. I knew all I had to do to “fix” the situation was bring my attention back to my breath — to pause and begin again. This repeated process helped me recognize that my definition of failure was too rigid. I needed to offer myself more grace, more love, and much more forgiveness.
The practice opened my eyes to other areas where I needed more clarity on what I was doing or thinking so I could choose to move forward in new ways. Was I spending time doing things I really cared about? Was I allowing myself to wish and dream? Or was I simply going through the motions because it was easy and comfortable? I especially needed to re-evaluate how I was dealing (or not dealing) with past traumas. It turns out that burying emotions inside for decades isn’t the best way to reach optimal health! So, I chose to Begin Again with a new kind of work. Deep inner work that would have me beginning again and again, in ways I never imagined.
Over time, I realized that I wanted to serve more, in meaningful and tangible ways. I wanted to share my knowledge and experience of how the body can heal itself, and how small consistent actions can lead to life-changing results. I believe that personal health is a journey, not a point in time or destination to be reached. Health must be tended to, and cherished, every day. When we make less-than-healthy choices or life dumps a health challenge in our lap, may we all remember to Begin Again with grace, love and self-compassion.