I often talk about mindfulness because honestly it has changed my life in so many ways I don’t know how I got by before I found it. The truth is that I wasn’t happy and until we start to take control of our thoughts and not just try to avoid them we never will be. Finding true happiness through mindfulness can happen it just takes patience and work.
Now I am not saying mindfulness is a cure for any mental health problem, it did not cure mine I still have an anxiety disorder and depression. However, learning to be in the moment so you can notice when your mind starts to drift to depression or anxiety and then start to do something about it.
I first learned about this in therapy, and like many of us who lived our lives with mental health issues, I have been in and out of therapy many times. I remember it was group therapy and the person leading it said we can control our thoughts they do not have to control us.
At the time I remember feeling like someone had punched me, I mean I can control my thoughts??? Why had nobody told me this? How do I do it? Problem was they didn’t say, and the rest of the class I was sort of on autopilot as I tried to understand how I can take control of my thoughts.
After doing research I learned about mindfulness, now this practice starts with meditation and I know what you are thinking: you tried it once and you couldn’t do it?? Meditation is a practice, it is something that takes years to be able to do and there are literally hundreds of types of meditation and maybe the type you tried didn’t work for you.
I love guided meditations, Yoga Nidra is amazing but there are also walking meditations, chanting, bakti which are songs, the list is so long! I personally use the app Insight Timer and I use it every day to find meditations that suit me and will help me to ground into the day. But there is also many meditations on YouTube, so look around and start trying five minutes a day and see how it goes.
But that is just a palette cleanser, mindfulness I am talking about lasts all day, paying real attention to the moment to moment of my life. I love that my days and months no longer rush by, and I get to spend real time with the people and dogs around me.
Mindfulness is not easy, it comes in small spurts, five minutes here and there but slowly expands as you realise how much brighter the world is without your thoughts in the way. It takes time, and patience, but if you are willing to put in the time then you can do it too.
Finding true happiness through mindfulness
- Persevere – in the West, concentrating on the moment is not encourage or talked about so changing how you use your brain takes time. Be patient and keep trying, come back to your breath, things you can see and feel and smell and touch whenever you realise you are not being mindful.
- Monitor your mood – Doing little check ins with yourself throughout the day will make you more aware of your thoughts and where they were taking you. Often if I am feeling down, it is because I am thinking about past memories. Anxiety often comes from worrying about tomorrow or next week or even when I am old! But if I am being mindful I can stop those thoughts faster before they trigger me too much.
- Do your research – Though Mindfulness is now a staple in Western therapy, it comes from a rich history in Eastern religions. It is thought to be traced back to Hinduism and Buddhism so if you find it helps you, maybe learn about those faiths and the rich history they come from.
- You are worthy – We can often think oh this sounds like hard work and give ourselves excuses why we shouldn’t bother. But self care, taking control of our thoughts and our mental health is incredibly important and you are worth taking the time and effort to learn how to practice this every day. Self care is self love.
- Take control – I can attest to the true happiness that comes from finally feeling in control of my thoughts and having a hold on my mental health. So why not take control and learn how to notice when your thoughts start to spiral and your mood changes?
Lastly, I want to say that mindfulness is not a cure, I still have blue days where I don’t want to do anything or anxiety filled days where everything feels too much. But now instead of staying for weeks and months, I only have them for a day or two and overall my illnesses are so much more improved. Finding true happiness through mindfulness is possible, I am the proof and you could be too.