How does mindfulness heal?
Mindfulness practices have become internationally popular in the past decade, but their roots reach 2,500 years into the past. It is grounded today in vast medical research and in solid scientific evidence.
Mindfulness practices can increase our ability to regulate emotions, reduce reactivity, and decrease stress, anxiety and depression. Mindfulness helps us to focus our attention and observe our thoughts and feelings without completely identifying with them, and without constantly judging ourselves and others.
We are currently experiencing an epidemic of high-stress levels, feelings of being overwhelmed, disconnection, detachment, exhaustion, worthlessness, anxiety and depression.
Many of us journey through our lives as if on automatic pilot, unaware of what is really happening. We are so busy doing whatever it is we are doing, that we are also busy thinking and reacting. In many ways, this imprisons us in our emotional responses and unconsciously limiting patterns and beliefs.
Living like this means we miss so much of our one and only unique and precious life.
We might know in some way we can be our own worst enemy, but even thinking like this means our desire to change is framed as a struggle against parts of ourselves that are not right, or things that are not right in our lives. We might think something is missing. Or that we need to change or fix ourselves. Perhaps because we are not good enough, not good enough yet, not worthy, not okay.
This thinking means our relationship with ourselves and others is full of thoughts about what should or shouldn't be.
The irony is that we have the keys to free ourselves from our limitations.
By practicing mindfulness we grow our capacity to hold all that arises in our life with soft and kind awareness. This liberates us to choose mindfully how we respond to life, to challenges, to change.
There is no longer any need for the subtle aggression of self-improvement, for self-criticism, for the endless guilt of not being enough or not doing enough. We recognise the radical possibility that we don’t need to change or fix ourselves. We don’t need to look for anything special or go anywhere or find something we think we are lacking.
Instead, we discover all that we need is already here under our noses waiting for us to notice it—to dis-cover it. The word itself tells us what we are looking for is already here.
By wrapping our inner and outer experiences with kind compassionate awareness, we dis-cover our true nature, our true self which holds vast wisdom, contentment, creativity and true joy.
Mindfulness embraces the paradox framed by many poets such as T.S Eliot who wrote in his powerful poem Four Quarters—
“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
The healing practice of mindfulness invites us to rest in our own awareness so we can journey with ease.