In this post, I reflect on several enticements to speed through a mindfulness course.
My ever-evolving relationship with tea has been one of the main paths through which I have deepened my mindfulness practice. I am also expanding my practice in new ways. Notably, I recently began an online mindfulness training program. The materials recommend we aim to complete the course in about three months, although we have flexibility. So far, I’m really enjoying the training program’s mix of information, stories, guided meditations, and journal prompts.
As I started exploring the introductory material, how often it repeatedly reminds participants not to speed through the program caught my attention. There are several reminders to really take time to let the lessons sink in and to build our practice with the tools and prompts provided. I can think of multiple reasons people would be tempted to speed through a mindfulness course, as ironic as that sounds. And, by people, I include myself. I can relate to many enticements to speed through a mindfulness course.
Speed Through to See the Big Picture
We might be really excited and curious. Sooz Hammond from Being Tea offered insight, reflecting on their conversations with many people about the Being Tea Teacher Training. Sooz notes that some people might “want a sense of the whole picture, right up front.” As someone who can sometimes get lost in the details, I see the value of focusing on the big picture.
This point is important to honor and reflect on a bit more, too. Sooz defends this enticement to rush: “Some people might physiologically need to see the whole picture up front.” They continue, referring to part of the Being Tea Teacher Training, by noting that many people are “dealing with trauma, high stress levels, being neurodivergent, or having anxiety.” Thus, “some folks need to know fully what they are agreeing to, and where it’s going, up front. They will not be able to settle in and focus otherwise. And this is safe and ok for their brain and body.” Their philosophy is “it is we who should accommodate them, not the other way around.”
What an important point! Honoring people means accepting there are different ways and speeds that people are comfortable processing information. Indeed, inclusive, respectful, and trauma-informed teaching calls us to make space for this approach. And, to be clear, the mindfulness course I am taking allows for that. We can go at our own pace.
Enticement of the Certificate
There are other factors that might influence people taking a mindfulness course to speed through it. For example, the certificate of completion that the program provides at the end could be our main motivation. It might be that we anticipate taking pride in the accomplishment of completing the course and earning the certificate.
On a more disappointing note, by contrast, it could be that we are more interested in being credentialed than actually absorbing the material. But, even the latter motivation can be complicated. As Sooz also pointed out in our exchange, people could be in spaces where “someone else needs you to hold the certificate in order for you to be taken seriously.” I think many of us can relate to feeling those pressures.
Cult of Productivity Comes Calling
The cult of productivity could also be pushing us to speed through a mindfulness course. My bet is this is the enticement that the mindfulness course is encouraging us to resist. Capitalism permeates our culture. It is constantly giving us explicit and implicit messages that we are machines whose primary value is through work. This pressure can guide us to the false conclusion that working more and faster makes us more valuable. (Friend–you are priceless, no matter how much or how slowly/quickly you work.)
Finding satisfaction checking something off of our to-do list can be rewarding and helpful. I enjoy that. When we feel compelled to create packed lists and focus on completing tasks as quickly as possible, however, we could be walking in step with the cult of productivity. And, unchecked, this forced pace leads to exhaustion and dehumanization as we speed through life to get to the next thing. In other words, cultural pressure can lead to the exact opposite of what the mindfulness course is all about: awareness and kindness.
Mindful of the Enticements to Rush
Taking these lessons to heart–and resisting many of the factors mentioned above–I’m trying to take it slow and steady. I’m honoring the speed of learning that is comfortable and humane for me. The enticements to rush are there, but I am grateful to be in a position to gently ignore them. As always, I am also grateful that I have tea as a daily companion and reminder to slow down and enjoy the process.
Did I miss any enticements to rush through a mindfulness course? Please feel free to share your perspective on that or any other reflections or questions you have in the comments.
Like this kind of post? Check out a guest post by Taniya Gupta of YogaTeaPoetry sharing her reflections on a 21-day “information rest” experiment we did together.