Three ways practicing mindfulness can help guide you on your heart's true path are by: (1) presenting clues about what activities fit on your heart's true path; (2) helping reduce stress and improve clarity; and (3) bringing opportunities for gratitude into your awareness.
1. Mindfulness can reveal signs and signals that point to your true path and that can become apparent when you pay attention. By noticing how you feel emotionally, you can recognize activities that lie on your true path and you can recognize when you’re reacting to a situation rather than choosing your response. (For more on choosing responses, read Learn: Not to Take Things Personally). In her book Finding Your Own North Star, life coach Martha Beck explains that noticing how you feel physically can also signal when you’re on your true path or not:
- When you feel tired or sick to your stomach or tense in your shoulders, the activity you’re doing or the person you’re with might be distracting you from your true path
- Feeling energized and motivated or feeling nervous excitement in your stomach likely means you’re on your true path
2. Mindfulness can help you reduce stress and increase clarity, calmness and connection. Olivia Downing of Liv Mindfully asserts that research proves mindfulness can lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve ability to focus and increase immune functioning. Mindfulness, affirms Downing, can serve as a tool to help us discover our true selves and to live more sincere and authentic lives.
In her book The Not So Big Life, Sarah Susanka describes how approaching the task of cooking with mindfulness enhanced her connection with her surroundings:
… every vegetable, experienced in a mindful way, presented a stunning array of colors, textures, and geometrical intricacies as I cut it up in preparation for cooking. … I was entranced by the richness of just about everything I engaged in and marveled at the fact that I had missed so much of it before.
You can imagine, too, how cooking mindfully might melt feelings of stress that might have been attached to the task. When you're attuned to the task at hand, you're not stewing about what you'd rather be doing or worrying about what you'll do next; you're living mindfully in the present.
3. Mindfulness can show you how to appreciate what you have. Practicing mindfulness allows us to see and acknowledge all we have to be grateful for. Susanka describes noticing her food's colors, shapes and textures. Really seeing the beauty and good things around us is a bonus in practicing mindfulness. (Read my previous post Explore: Gratitude for more information on developing a gratitude habit.)
The first post in this series, Explore: Mindfulness, overviewed what mindfulness is (and is not) and, along with Share: Mindfulness in Action, offered a sneak peek at how to practice mindfulness (formally through yoga and meditation and informally through everyday tasks). Watch for the final posts in this series, Learn: How to Practice Mindfulness, coming soon.