What will you discover when you start a mindfulness practice?
The short answer is: sh*tloads.
When I first started meditating I was there for just one thing: cure my anxiety.
What I ended up with was so much more.
- I discovered that mindfulness doesn’t “cure” anxiety. But my practice led me to understand anxiety better, to learn what it actually is and what it’s for. So now, I feel kinda cured.
- I discovered how amazing gratitude makes you feel. And so started being more grateful.
- I discovered that giving a sh*t about others (even animals) makes YOU feel great. So I stopped eating animals and started teaching meditation. And I feel great.
- I discovered that meditating feels better than getting drunk and there’s never a hangover – so I don’t drink that much these days.
- I discovered I can change the internal narrative that tells me I suck at a lot of things. This one’s hard. But I know it can be done.
- I discovered how bad my body feels when I’ve eaten too much crap or just too much in general. So I don’t eat as much crap anymore.
I’m sure there are many more things I could add to this list!
But enough about me. How about you?
How mindfulness works to create change
Mindfulness looks like a sedentary practice. Just sittin’ there blissing-out self-indulgently. But we all know you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Sometimes mindfulness does feel like bliss. Waves of peace and contentment lapping over your entire body; a delicious, warm feeling in the chest; a smile that appears on your face out of nowhere.
Those are the moments that signal, I’m on the right track, keep going!
But the benefits of mindfulness and meditation are much farther reaching than a few moments of bliss.
Mindfulness is the start and continuation of every change worth making in your life.
Hold up. Whaa? Ploise explain.
Mindfulness is awareness. Being aware of what’s happening; seeing things clearly. It’s pretty difficult to change something you’re not aware of.
When you sit down to meditate, lots of things that were there all along are revealed. You’ve opened the blinds to let in the light and oh, wow, is that what’s been calling for my attention but I’ve been too busy to see?
A meditation practice also gives you the space for your intuition to come forward. To understand it and strengthen it so you can start to trust your own internal wisdom and make better decisions.
So many of my own questions and problems have been solved “on the cushion”, outa the blue, when I wasn’t thinking so hard.
Examples of changes that are born out of mindfulness
HEALTH & FITNESS
- Wow. I didn’t realise how tired I was. I need more sleep. I’m going to take more breaks.
- Huh. There’s a pain in my back that I haven’t noticed before. It feels off. I better get it checked out.
- My shoulders and neck are so tight and tense! OK. I’m going to actually do the stretching program that the osteo gave me.
- I’m feeling lethargic and gross. It’s time to stop getting Uber Eats and start eating more fruits and veggies.
- I’m feeling flat and my mouth is really dry. I’m getting a drink of water.
- My clothes are getting tight. Going to start running again.
MENTAL HEALTH & WELLBEING
- I’m worried. Come to think of it, I worry a lot. I’m definitely going to keep meditating. And I’ve heard cognitive behavioural therapy can help so I’m going to ask my GP for a referral.
- I’m completely overwhelmed. It’s all too much. I really need to work on setting boundaries and learning how to say no. I’m going to get help with that.
- Gawd. I can’t even sit here for 2 minutes without wanting to do something. I’m so scattered and distracted! I’m going to ramp up my meditation practice. And do a digital detox.
- I really don’t speak to myself kindly. My inner critic is an a-hole! I’m going to start journaling all the things I like about myself. And start a gratitude practice, too.
- I can’t stand the new woman at work. She’s such a control freak! But I don’t want to leave and I can’t make her change so what good qualities in her can I focus on?
- I haven’t had a decent conversation with my wife in weeks. We’re both so busy and distracted! I’m planning a date night.
- Dad is chronically depressed. He’s never going to change. Stop trying to fix it.
- I’m lonely. I want a partner to share my life with. I’m going to start getting out there!
- I’m done with my business. I’ve lost passion for it. It’s time to wrap it up and do something new.
- I hate asking my brother for money all the time. I can’t stand living from paycheque to paycheque. I’m going to finally get help with my finances.
- I’ve got so much more to offer at work. But I don’t know how to go about it. I’m going to get a mentor.
- I like my job… but I don’t love it. I’m going to start a side hustle where I can have full creative control! And I’m enrolling into that course I’ve always wanted to do.
- I hate public speaking! But I can’t keep running from it my whole life. Time to face the fear.
The slow-burn of change
In Jimi Hunt’s book Inside Out, he offers some wisdom that I totally agree with. Changing your life is a slow-burn. There are lots of aspects of life and everything can always be improved. So, don’t beat yourself up if all the things you’ve become aware of are not instantly transformed. It’s OK to focus on one thing at a time. Remind your inner critic of that. (For what have they ever achieved, anyway?)
Understand that your change, your growth will not happen in one giant fell swoop… it will only happen from the aggregation of marginal gains, 1% at a time.
– Jimi Hunt –
Now, go forth on your journey of mindful discovery. I’d love to hear about all things you find and change along the way!