Mindfulness has changed my life.

That’s a bold claim but when I look at what has changed since I’ve become more mindful, the evidence is clear. Mindfulness has changed the way I do the following things:

The way I eat. The way I exercise. The way I mother. The way I treat myself. The way I allow myself to be treated. The way I work. The work I do. The way I manage my emotions.

Mindfulness is about being aware of what is happening in my mind. What am I thinking? How are those thoughts making me feel? What do I do when I feel that way? Becoming aware of what my mind was doing propelled me into emotional adulthood. I took responsibility for what was happening in my life. I am infinitely less judgmental, less reactive, and less defensive. I am a grown up, calmer, more peaceful version of the 30-year old Susie. And trust me, she’s a lot more fun to be around.

How do I practice being mindful? By using two tools as often as I can: journaling and meditation. When used together, they are stronger than either used alone as they address mindfulness from opposite sides of the coin. Meditation connects us with the sensations in our body while letting our thoughts pass without judgment or analysis. Journaling brings awareness to the thoughts we’re choosing to think and their impact on the sensations we feel in our body.

Meditation

Think of meditation as a push-up for your mind. When meditating your mind is relaxed in an active state. You are not sleeping. Rather you are actively keeping your mind focused on the present moment with loving kindness. When meditating, your mind will wander. That’s what it’s designed to do. The push-up occurs when you kindly direct your mind back to focusing on the present. There are three steps to the meditation I practice:

1. Pay attention to your breath as you breathe in and out.
2. Note when your mind wanders away from your breath.
3. Bring your attention back to your breath without beating yourself up over it.

Journaling

If meditation is a push-up for your mind, then journaling is a cleaning of your brain. In meditation we let our thoughts pass by without bringing focus to them. In journaling, we intentionally bring focus to our thoughts. We become mindful of what we’re thinking as that teaches us why we are feeling what we’re feeling and acting the way we’re acting.

Mindfulness is not an end point. It’s not like you get to a point and say: “Okay, I’m mindful, what’s next?” Similar to exercise, if I want my body to feel good, I exercise regularly. If I want to be emotionally stable, I practice mindfulness.

Do currently you meditate or journal regularly? Tell me about your practice. If you used to meditate or journal but don’t now, why did you stop? Are you interested in beginning to meditate or journal?

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