5 Reasons Why I Tried Mindfulness and How It’s Changed My Life

Posted by on July 15, 2017 in Conscious Evolution, Conscious Living, Thrive with 0 Comments
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By Chris Boutte | Tiny Buddha

“We have only now, only this single eternal moment opening and unfolding before us, day and night.” ~Jack Kornfield

Almost two years ago, I kept seeing the word “mindfulness” pop up everywhere I was looking, and I had no clue what it was.

I kept seeing blog posts with titles like How Mindfulness can Help You at Work¸ How Mindfulness can Help You in Relationships, and How Mindfulness can Help You in the Bedroom.

Then, I saw a short video explaining mindfulness. It was a monk drinking coffee, and the narrator was talking about how much better the coffee tastes when you think about the beans being grown, the people who harvest the beans, and everything else that goes into making your simple cup of coffee.

Everything I was seeing from pop-culture blogs made it seem like this thing called mindfulness was this snake oil that could solve all of life’s problems. Although I was skeptical and had no clue what I was getting into, I decided that I was going to keep an open mind and see what mindfulness was all about.

For me, it was a quick and easy sell from the moment I started practicing because everything just “clicked” for me.

As someone who tries to encourage everyone to give it a try, I’ve learned that people don’t often have the same experience. So, if you’re someone who is thinking about trying the practice or giving up, I hope this will give you some motivation to keep moving forward.

1. Time is our most valuable currency, and we can’t waste it.

In June of 2012, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure at the age of twenty-six, and the doctors told me there was a slim chance that I’d live more than another year. Well, here we are five years later; I’m alive, and I’ve been able to watch my son grow into an amazing young man. My heart is almost completely back to normal, and it’s blown my doctor’s mind.

With this second chance at life, I made a commitment to myself that I was going to experience every day to its fullest with a goal to waste as little time as possible, because tomorrow isn’t promised.

I know, my situation is a little bit more extreme than most, but I believe this is something we can all get behind. We’ve all had unexpected tragedy in our life from losing a job, a relationship, or a loved one. Since tomorrow isn’t promised, we need to make the most of today. I thought that this was exactly what I was doing until I discovered mindfulness.

When I took my first course on mindfulness, some questions started to come up that I had never even asked myself because I didn’t realize they were questions that needed to be asked.

  • When was the last time I sat in awareness of simply noticing gravity keeping me grounded on Earth?
  • My breath happens twenty-four hours a day, seven days per week, but how often do I notice it?
  • How many times do I drive from point A to point B without noticing one part of my experience because I’m stuck in my head?

These last five years I thought I was making the most of each day, but there was so much that I was missing. I mindlessly drive to work, eat food, have conversations, and engage mindlessly in many other situations. Mindfulness helps keep me fully present and engaged with as many moments in my life so I don’t miss anything.

2. Mindfulness is backed by science.

I’ve been an extremely skeptical person my entire life. Maybe it stems from the trust issues I developed as a kid. My father always taught me that if it sounds like it’s too good to be true, it usually is.

In order to sell me on trying anything new, I need some very clear-cut evidence and scientifically backed research that this thing is going to work. Like I said, my time is extremely valuable to me, so I’m not going to waste my time trying something that doesn’t have any evidence to back it up.

Around the same time that I discovered mindfulness, I also learned that I’m fascinated by neuroscience. One of the most interesting parts of the brain is the prefrontal cortex. While it’s the youngest part, it also has some of the most important responsibilities, including:

  • Emotional regulation
  • Impulse control
  • Body regulation
  • Making logical decisions
  • Empathy
  • Connectedness to others
  • Self-awareness

The problem with us as humans is that our limbic system (our primitive instincts to react) often overrides the prefrontal cortex. However, scientific evidence shows that a regular mindfulness practice helps strengthen that part of the brain.

Basically, if I wanted to get stronger biceps, I know which weight-lifting exercises I could do. If I wanted to increase my stamina, I’d probably do some cardio. So, if I want to improve all of the abilities listed above, I should practice mindfulness because it strengthens the prefrontal cortex. I can debate with the best of them, but I’ll never argue against scientific evidence.

3. My mind is a boat without an anchor.

I am one of those people with a mind that never stops. This is something that I’ve dealt with since I was a kid. I don’t think it’s any form of ADD, but I have a brain that’s constantly planning, coming up with new ideas, and trying to find solutions to problems.

This is a gift and a curse. The way my mind works has helped me excel at many different jobs because my brain is wired to always think about how I can improve what I’m doing. The issue is that there’s a time and a place for this, and when I’m in the middle of a conversation or doing an important project with a mind that takes off, it can get me into a bit of trouble.

I also noticed that sometimes my mind would end up in the weirdest places sometimes. I could be sitting at my desk at work, and after zoning out for a few minutes, for some reason I’m thinking about a scene from a 90s TV show, and I’m wondering how I got there. It’s like driving your car to buy groceries and somehow ending up at the park and thinking, “How on earth did I get here?”

I always thought that I was one of the only people this happened to, but it’s extremely common. Our brains have tens of thousands of thoughts per day, and my mindfulness taught me that’s alright. It becomes a problem when we don’t notice where our thoughts are taking us.

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