How You Can Benefit from Mindfulness
“Peace of mind is not the absence of conflict from life, but the ability to cope with it.” ~Unknown
Are you curious about mindfulness? Wondering whether it’s worth your time or will meet your expectations?
I’ve been working with a coach three days a week for the past six months to learn about mindfulness and discovered how experiencing thoughts, feelings and sensations has actually influenced my well-being.
Most people do not live in the moment, and not being fully present means you miss many pleasures in life. When you are mindful, your thoughts are not in the past or the future, they are fully in the present, the here and now. You experience what is happening around you and also inside you. Senses are heightened when you pay attention to them.
Anxiety doesn’t go away because you practice mindfulness, but it does become less of a monster to avoid. Sitting with your emotions, instead of running away from them, gives you the chance to realize over time that you’re stronger than you think and much more courageous. Gradually, you’ll stop worrying about the monster and situations provoking an emotion will become lighter and more manageable.
The rumors are true, you are more than a brain in a body. Through mindfulness, you feel the genuine sensation of observing your thoughts and feelings. You notice that you are the witness of what’s happening rather than what occurs. You remember that there’s more to you than blood, bones and neurons, and start to see changes in yourself as the world turns. Sounds hokey, but it’s true.
Room to change
Wish you could change or modify the way you react to certain situations? When you observe what you’re doing in the moment, you can alter your thoughts and behavior. Mindfulness helps you spot triggers for sadness, frustration, anger, and view them with diminishing fear. And without that almighty fear, unpleasant physical reactions to stress stop. You no longer feel in the grips of fight-or-flight thinking and can begin applying logic and reasoning to most situations.
When you are mindful on a regular basis, you stop judging yourself. You get used to witnessing your thoughts and understanding that they are not you. You can let them go without beating yourself up for having thoughts you dislike. When the critical voice in your head pipes up, you can more easily quiet it with compassion.
It works if you work it
Being mindful sounds simple on the surface, but it takes time, dedication and practice. Life won’t suddenly be a cake walk from one Zen moment to another. You know the saying, the program works if you work the program. The same goes for mindfulness — it works if you work it and you have to work it on the regular, which is very beneficial. You’ll notice improved emotional wellness, personal and work relationships, and feel more at ease navigating the ever-present cracks, bumps and sinkholes on your path.
It is important to understand that mindfulness is not the same as meditation. It’s not about emptying the mind. It’s also not about savoring the moment, which would demand dwelling on the positive. The idea that you might overcome psychological issues using mindfulness is false. Mindfulness simply wants us to pause, reflect and gain distance and perspective. True mindfulness recognizes every instant of your existence.
I’m still very much a student. As with any learning process, some days my progress is excruciatingly slow, and some days I want to kick rocks and forget the whole thing. When my coach chimes in that “these situations are normal, and help with growth,” I’m like, yeah, yeah, yeah. But he’s right. I know he’s right. I’m happier, more grounded and at peace, and it is getting easier.
“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn