I just wrote this blog in my mind during yoga and that is not very mindful. But I have even bigger struggles though. And Mindfulness is my special serum. This blog is about what I love about Mindfulness. I will share 2 Big Benefits of Mindfulness and how they help me deal with 2 personal struggles I will share too.
“Can you remind me: what again is Mindfulness?” “Sure I can” > Mindfulness is the power of being conscious in the here and now and giving attention to what you like to, instead of… thinking about your next article during exercising for example.
I have been reading and thinking about Mindfulness a lot lately. Today I asked myself the question: in what way does Mindfulness add a lot of value to my life? There are two things. They are my 2 favorite benefits of Mindfulness. But I will start with sharing 2 personal struggles.
My first struggle: How I feel a particular hour defines my world
Recently I did a quite stunning discovery about myself. It illustrates the important position I grant to my feelings.
When someone would ask me the innocent question ‘how are you?’ I would take a moment to reflect and observe how I feel that particular moment. When I feel dreadful, it feels as if I am lying when I reply with a short ‘good’.
This is a little conversation I had with myself:
“But hey, that is crazy!”
- “I have plenty of nice food every day
- I am in a loving relationship with JD
- My friends and family are great
- I live in the most beautiful homes with great pet company
- etc. etc. etc.”
“And still it feels like I am lying when I reply this question with ‘good’?!!
Although I might feel not so well that particular moment, things are going good aren’t they?”
This observation and small chat with myself made me realize I give my feelings a very central place in my life. If I don’t feel bright for a few hours, I tend to conclude I am having a terrible day. And of course, that is not true or shouldn’t be true.
#1 Benefit of Mindfulness teaches me I am not my feelings, thoughts or sensations
This applies to everyone; you are not your feelings. Neither should you identify yourself completely with your thoughts or desires. They come and pass by. Above all, they are not absolute truths and they don’t define who you are.
Mindfulness training helps you to take a step back from your thoughts and emotions. The aim is to observe your emotions and your thoughts, and not to do anything with them. Don’t judge, don’t try to make them go away. Just observe and see them passing by. They are not you. In contrast, you are the observer. While practicing Mindfulness you actively practice to adapt the role of observer.
By taking on the role of observer, I experience the change of perspective straight away. As a consequence, my emotions straight away become less prominent. There is more overview, room and freedom. What bothered me before, is not so relevant anymore.
This is my #1 benefit of the 2 benefits of Mindfulness I am sharing with you. It is a life changer to me.
So, do you like to know how I am? I will tell you I am good! (although a bit cranky today ;))
My second struggle in life: I feel the obligation to be active and useful all the time
My friends and I often ask each other: “what are you going to do this weekend”? When I am texting my mum we often tell each other what we have been doing or what we are going to do. When I was a young child I was often asked whether I had done my homework or whether I had tidied up my room. Checking several boxes on my to do list make me feel extremely satisfied.
Doing Doing Doing.
It is all about the activities. Being active is the essence. That is what we mostly get taught in our modern Western World.
We need to be productive and be useful, all the time. At work and in our free time. We are proud of everything we get done in a week and of keeping up both a great career and social life. Being busy is like some kind of status symbol. Ask people how they are doing and most of the time they will answer with: ‘busy’. What is there left when we are not busy?
Does life get boring all of a sudden, or do we get boring?
If I sit for a while and do nothing, a feeling of restlessness can come over me. I am feeling like I am wasting my time and should get going. “Don’t sit there and do nothing, get up and be productive” whispers my inner critic in my ear. It makes it difficult to relax. It makes me feel like a worthless piece of …
#2 Benefit of Mindfulness tells it is OK to not-do
And that is where the Mindfulness philosophy comes in. Mindfulness teaches that just ‘Being’ is very valuable. Mindfulness ensures you that it is OK to just be. I can overcome the restlessness I feel when I don’t do anything. This Mindfulness lesson helps me to feel at peace, although, – or especially when – , I am not doing something. It even has opened a door to a completely new way of being and living my life.
People are very good at ‘Doing’, but there is far less attention for ‘Being’.
“Being?!” “”But what do I do?”
This quote by the well-known Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh about doing versus being illustrates the essence nicely:
“We have a tendency to think in terms of doing and not in terms of being. We think that when we’re not doing anything, we’re wasting our time. But that’s not true. Our time is first of all for us to be. To be what? To be alive, to be peaceful, to be joyful, to be loving. And this is what the world needs the most. We all need to train ourselves in our way of being, and that is the ground for all action. Our quality of being determines our quality of doing.”
So what do you choose: problem solving or being at peace?
In the Doing-Mode we are looking at things with a problem-solving attitude. There are always things that need to be improved, done or fixed.
Mindfulness training helps you to grow your Being-Mode. And the benefits of the Being-Mode are huge:
- ‘Negative emotions are not just another problem to be solved’
- You are connected with the current moment, and not dwelling in the past or busy with the future
- You are able to see things as they are, and there is no need to change
- Instead of avoiding (some) emotions you will be open to all of them, in a neutral way
When you just ‘Are” everything is as it should be. Nothing needs to be changed; everything is good as it is.
I wish everyone a little more of Being, besides Doing.
‘Sit down and just be. It is so peaceful!’ And that is a nice summary of my #2 of the biggest benefits of Mindfulness.
What are the biggest benefits of Mindfulness to you? And what would you like to know about Mindfulness? Please share in the comments.
More about Mindfulness
I wrote another blog about Mindfulness and I am sure more will follow. In the following blog I list more benefits of Mindfulness: Rushing through life? Try Mindfulness!
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Sources for this Blog
- Mindfulness for Dummies by Shamash Alidina
- Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes facebook group
Why people love Mindfulness:
- For anxiety problems
- To stop rushing
- To go back to the basics
- If you like to understand life better
- To experience the power of now
- To stop dwelling in the past
- No more worrying about the future
- To feel at peace
- To feel satisfied
Read this blog about the benefits of Mindfulness if you are wondering:
- What are the benefits of Mindfulness?
- Why should I practice Mindfulness?
- What are reasons to do Mindfulness?
- What are the lessons of Mindfulness training?
- Why is Mindfulness interesting?
- What can Mindfulness do for me?
- What is the essence of Mindfulness?