When do you know if meditation and mindfulness are working for you?
The signs that you are making progress are subtle… but simple. Once you find yourself seeing and truly acknowledging these signs of success, you know that you are using meditation and mindfulness effectively!
Houston, we have a problem!
Mindfulness is all about remembering what you are trying to do, which can be as ‘simple’ as trying to live a happy and healthy life. But being human and subject to uncontrollable forces such as your partner, your parents, your kids, your workplace, illness, natural disasters etc, it’s very easy to forget how to live like this. It can become very easy to live in a perpetual state of stress.
But when you use meditation as a way to strengthen your mindfulness you will find it much easier to flag up when you are feeling cr@p. Once you honestly accept that you have a problem, then your process of healing yourself can begin.
Hovering on the Edge
For example, as I am writing this blog I feel as though I am hovering on the edge of being burnt out. The signs for this are getting very angry, very weepy and my body and mind beginning to ache every time I think of my list of things to do. Plus mouth ulcers – always a sure sign of the stress hormones being elevated!
I know why I am so stressed. My Mum is due to have a Cataract operation this week. The op isn’t the problem, it’s the fact that she has to use eye drops for 4 weeks afterwards to stop any nasty side effects developing. She already struggles to use eye drops for her Glaucoma, so I have been trying to come up with a cunning plan that ensures she can take her eye medication. But so far all the avenues of help I have been looking down have drawn a blank! I live 2½ hours away from her, so there is a limit to what I can do physically help, so all in all MEGA FRUSTRATING! This problem is jumping up and down and right in my face!
If you are thinking…”well why are you getting so stressed… you meditate don’t you? Yes, but meditation does not make me an emotionless robot nor a perfect goddess either (thank goodness). I am still a human; a messy, complex being with emotions that sweep me away and negative thought patterns that still stick in my head. Whilst I am better at dealing with these issues than I ever was in the past, they still sweep me away at times. That is why I still need to keep meditating!
Accept the problem, don’t fight it
What I need to do in this challenging situation, is to accept that I am under more pressure than normal. Have a bit of sympathy for myself! This can be easier said than done I know but one of the benefits of regular meditation is that you realise that you are in charge of your own well-being. And your well-being affects everyone else around you. My hubby got very stressed because of my temper and my tears and my patience level with my mum was severely reduced. When hubby and Mum are also feeling cr@p that makes me even more stressed! The best way to break out of this circle of stress is to accept there is a problem and to stop fighting it.
In practice this means:
Taking more time to rest.
Do more things that give me pleasure. Like getting out into the garden, going for a walk or losing myself in a good book.
Giving my hubby lots of hugs, telling him I love him and/or that I love spending time with him.
Using meditation to help
Feeling angry and weepy does not need to be a fixed accompaniment to my life. One that I can do nothing about. With meditation as a helping tool giving me mental clarity and the calmness to look at my situation, I know can do something to change that.
As I mentioned above, I have been angry with hubby. A sign that meditation and mindfulness are working is when you accept/ realise that your reactions are not their fault. Normally I wouldn’t react angrily like this. The only reason I was doing it is because I was feeling a lot of pressure. Where does that pressure come from? From me. I was applying it to myself by setting myself unreasonable expectations. Time for me to back off.
The Buddha put it something like this, “Calm acceptance may not come naturally to you, but with training in meditation and mindfulness, you can deal with life’s difficult or challenging scenario afresh.” You can learn to avoid unhelpful actions, cultivate positive ones, and pacify your emotions.
Recognising when you have misunderstood
Sometimes your reactions to situations may be misplaced because you are missing (or misinterpreting) some information. When you are already feeling stressed, your imagination can work overtime. This can lead to ‘second guessing’ the thoughts, motives or actions of others.
In other words, you think you know, but maybe you know wrongly. Perhaps because you are looking at the situation just from your own perspective?
Meditation and mindfulness can help you to realise that there are other perspectives. All you need to do is ask ‘what do you think about this? or ‘am I understanding you correctly, do you mean….?
Asking these questions are surefire ways of defusing incendiary situations!
Secret but simple
These four ‘recognitions’ are subtle signs of success. They won’t come upon you in a blinding flash of light with drums and a fanfare of trumpets. They are secret in the sense of being not obvious and just seem to be ‘everyday’ responses and not that special. But they are very special. They make the difference between feeling miserable of feeling calm and peaceful.
So persevere in your meditation and mindfulness, and allow yourself to be receptive to the signs of success!
For further help
Achieve more calm in your day – Try my Nine Breaths for a Calmer Mind download