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The Benefits of Mindfulness

by Jo Wilkie

If I could give you any gift in the world, it would be the gift of mindfulness.

Trying to avoid thoughts and feelings is a useless endeavor that most of us spend a LOT of our life energy on. It is impossible to live a gratifying, happy life that is in line with our deepest desires when we are focused so intently on pushing away perceived negative thoughts and feelings.

This past year, as I was teaching mindfulness to a Yoga class, after we had sat in meditation for a half an hour, someone asked the question, “So is the point to have no thoughts??” For me, and for most people I know, this is simply NOT POSSIBLE. What IS possible is stepping back from our thoughts and emotions and simply watching them, seeing thoughts and feelings as a part of our experience without making our whole life about avoiding them or wallowing in them.

So, what’s the point of mindfulness if it doesn’t make ”it” (insert your own) go away?? Mindfulness is not a way to stop you from feeling or thinking. However, it does provide a way to live without extra struggle, fundamentally changing your relationship with painful thoughts and feelings in such a way that they’re no longer a problem.

By incorporating a practice of “doing nothing” for 10 – 15 minutes per day, we learn a valuable lesson. Noticing our thoughts come and go, like clouds across a blue sky, the obvious question is, “Who is watching my thoughts?” Well, YOU are – the deepest, wisest, most perfect part of you. That core of wisdom that has every answer you will ever need to live exactly the life you are meant to live. By learning to step back from the thinking mind, we are given the gift of ourselves.

By accessing this part of ourselves, we make choices that move us towards our highest purpose and true happiness. What could be more important than that?

The benefits far exceed the investment of your time – to read more, Psychology Today has an excellent article on the science behind the benefits of meditation.

If you don’t have a practice now, but would like to get started, has a great (free) introductory series of talks on meditation. If that doesn’t appeal to you, just do nothing. Seriously. Sit down, with you and yourself for 10 – 15 minutes every day. Bring your attention to the rising and the falling of the breath and, as thoughts come up, just watch them – maybe even label them, “thinking”, and go back to the breath. Over and over, for 10 minutes, return to the breath. When you find that you have become lost in your thoughts (you will), kindly return to the breath.

For those of you who do you have a daily practice of doing nothing (aka: mindfulness), how has it impacted the way you live your life? Tell me in the comments.

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