Years ago, I bought a book on a whim. Little did I know that it would completely transform my life and lead me on the path I tread today.
That book was The Miracle of Mindfulness, and it was the first book that truly taught me about the power of mindfulness meditation practice.
The book is technically a letter written by author Thich Nhat Hanh to a friend in Vietnam at the time, so it’s not organized particularly well nor does it clearly explain everything it mentions. But it’s a beautifully profound book written by someone I consider a dear teacher. It was more than enough.
At the time, I could barely get my head out of the future long enough to get my work done and handle all my other responsibilities. I was stressed out about my bills, worrying about the future and how I was going to support my future son (who was to be born just months from then), and constantly reflected on the disappointment I felt towards myself for having still not accomplished anything of real value in my life.
It’s hard, perhaps impossible, to completely put into words what mindfulness did for me. When I think of how mindfulness changed my life all I want to do is silently scream from a mountain top, where no one will hear me but the rocks and clouds.
When I think of how profound discovering, and practicing, mindfulness has been for me I feel a sense of heaviness in reflecting on so many difficult memories, now with a sense of peace, relief, and sincere joy.
Whether it’s here in this post or somewhere in the future, I hope the power of mindfulness finds you as well.
5 Powerful Ways Mindfulness Meditation Will Change Your Life
1. It will help you identify patterns
I talk often about how mindfulness helps us overcome internal challenges. One way this is clearly demonstrated is in its ability to help us identify patterns.
What do I mean by identifying patterns? Mindfulness, more than anything else, gives us clarity. When we begin to gain clarity, we start to be able to identify bad patterns of behavior such as avoidance when faced with stress and difficult situations, bias or attitude in the face of a certain person or persons, and a bad habit when handling a specific strong emotion such as fear or anger.
When we work to identify these patterns and then handle them skillfully, our whole world can change. Suddenly we see clearly all the various ways we suffer and, in many cases, the simple (but not necessarily easy) solutions to overcoming these bad patterns of behavior.
2. It will show you clearly the source of the problem (and give you a way to overcome, or better work with, it)
More than just identifying patterns, with practice mindfulness can show you clearly where the source of the problem exists altogether.
If you notice you mentally judge a specific person every time you walk up to them, with practice you may realize that you have a bottled-down sense of envy and jealousy towards them because you feel inadequate having still not achieved any of your own goals and dreams. And that’s just one of countless examples.
But you’re not just left alone at this point to figure out how to overcome it. Many internal challenges can be overcome by your compassionate and loving presence alone, needing nothing more than for you to stop and breathe mindfully until the challenge can dissipate having now risen to the surface of your consciousness.
3. It will give you a way to bring yourself back to “center” 24/7
Mindfulness isn’t restricted to the meditation cushion, although that is the foundation of mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness is a tool you can use anywhere and anytime you feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, fearful, or angry.
For me, sometimes this was going back to my breath. Other times, this was walking mindfully or simply stopping and being mindful of the feeling or emotion. In every case, this was about going back to myself and nourishing my well-being simply and compassionately with my presence.
4. It will show you the truth of the present moment
My mindfulness practice showed me that the past and present are nothing more than ideas in our mind.
Sure, the past happened and it may be important, but it doesn’t literally exist anywhere but in memories and in concept.
And the future, while important to plan for, in actual practice is nothing more than estimations, assumptions, and imagination.
When we live tied to the realms of past and future as much as the present, our lives suffer. Understanding this changed how I live.
I grew up a dreamer, not so much a dreamer as in dreaming of my goals and aspirations but a literal day-dreamer, my mind always wandering off and thinking about something other than what I was doing.
I lived most of my early life half here and half in my head, always feeling like I was half-asleep but never really knowing why. For this single reason, mindfulness would have changed my life. But it just so happened that mindfulness would have a much more significant impact on me as time went on.
5. It will show you the path to true happiness
Most of us chase happiness thinking if we make a lot of money, find our dream partner, or attain great power we’ll be set for life. The insights I received from my mindfulness practice not only simplified life and showed me that everyone is searching for happiness, just in countless different ways, but that true happiness is inner peace.
In a state of inner peace, we still feel but are unmoved by life’s difficult challenges and maintain a clear and ever-present calmness throughout life.
And when we’re not facing challenges, we’re able to clearly identify moments of peace and joy and appreciate all that’s around us, even something as simple as the beauty of the blue sky.
You don’t know it from the outside, but when you begin to practice you realize that these simple moments are absolutely and totally fulfilling. They’re the single most profound moments of your life when you feel utterly at peace with everything around you.
Of course, realizing true inner peace is easier said than done, but gaining clarity about the path and seeing clearly how we get there is a huge step in the right direction. And mindfulness helps us do that.