One of the first lessons I learned from Andy Puddicombe (meditation / mindfulness expert and the voice of Headspace) was also the most important. The goal of mindfulness isn’t to eliminate stress. The goal is to change our relationship to stress, how we perceive it. Is stress a bad omen? Or simply information?
The same applies to every human condition. As developmental behavioral pediatrician Dr. Mark Bertin puts it, “Our perspective toward whatever we encounter in life fundamentally changes how we experience it.”
Our perception is malleable. Are we quick to catastrophize? Minimize? Demoralize? Accessorize? Mindfulness trains us to notice these patterns without judgment, and over time, allows new healthier habits to form.
Mark adds, “When we try to fix all we face and reach for a perfect picture of happiness, we often undermine our best intentions. There’s a time for action, but quite often there’s benefit from pausing and letting things be.”
Want to add more mindfulness to your day? Here are five suggestions.
- STOP what you’re doing
Mark explains, “When feeling off-balance because of a challenging situation, pause. Stop whatever you’re doing; take a few slow breaths; observe what’s going on around you and in your mind; andthen pick how to proceed.”
- Oh, that’s an idea!
Thoughts are not facts. When I realize I’m starting to confuse the two, I casually respond “Oh, that’s an idea!” and move on.
- What’s the worst that could happen?
When your anxiety is bubbling up, it can be helpful to consider the worst-case scenario. This is different than catastrophizing. It’s an act of curiosity. 9 times out of 10, you’ll discover you’ve got nothing to worry about.
- We’re all doing the best we can.
This applies to you and the people around you. As the Dalai Lama says, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
Meditation is the simplest way to infuse more mindful moments into your day. All you need is time (10 to 20 minutes) and space (a comfortable place to sit on the floor or in a chair). Want to meditate together? Join me for Oprah’s next 21-day meditation challenge. It starts on Monday, October 30. Sign up here. It's free.