In 1982, I died in a horrific truck accident.
Physical injuries were substantial but nothing compared to 15 years of mental suffering. I was diagnosed with a mental illness and health professionals told me that I would never be cured, that I would have to take medication for the rest of my life and that I would never work again. I felt ashamed with my condition and refused to get help outside the “system.”
In 1997, I got my miracle when an old friend knocked on my door and told me his story. This put me on the road to recovery. I stepped from the darkness into the light with no more depression! However, my mind continued with unhelpful stories and negative self judgements. I still had a mind like a drunken monkey, all over the place. I tried meditation but my mind was way too busy and I couldn’t relax. I was able to work again but I was just going through the motions.
In 2009, I started a personal mindful practice and my life was completely transformed. Thanks to mindfulness, I now live with both peace of mind and clarity of mind. Thanks to mindfulness, I am now able to take time out to meditate. Mindfulness is a way of life and should be practised all day long. It’s about silencing our discursive minds with awareness and focusing on being fully present with what is happening. Having a mindful practice enables us to develop more awareness of our thoughts and feelings. We are able to notice and observe what is going on without getting all caught up, especially with the unhelpful and negative stuff. A mindful practice also enables us to pause and create more silence and peace of mind throughout our day.
Mindfulness doesn’t stop the never-ending flow of mental chatter, nor does it stop the ebb and flow of our feelings. Sometimes we avoid practising mindfulness because we feel that something is going on deep down inside. It could be that we’re feeling anger, fear, sadness, past trauma, powerless, unmotivated or just tired. We know if we pause or stop we might have to deal with what is happening. Instead of stopping to acknowledge and feel what is coming to the surface, we distract ourselves by eating chocolate, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, focusing on our to-do list, watching TV, working too hard or many other distractions.
As we develop our mindfulness practice, we learn to recognise these unhelpful feelings for what they really are—just feelings. We learn that feelings aren’t facts and we make room for them or simply choose to let them go. A mindfulness practice helps us to connect fully with our whole being—mind, body, heart and soul. Then by deepening our practice of being present, the connection with ourselves deepens. We feel more connected to love, joy, peace, aliveness, strength and many other qualities. The flow on effect is the ability to deepen our presence with our loved ones and everyone we connect with in our daily lives.
The very essence of a mindful life is awareness in its purest form. With practice, mindful awareness becomes second nature, your home base and your refuge. With practice, your sense of awareness (or the silent observer as I like to call it) starts to abide more and more in your daily life. With practice, you will be able to readily step back and be the silent observer of your thoughts and feelings. Notice how I keep repeating “with practice”? Practice is the overall key to developing mindfulness and I cannot overstate it enough.
Bringing the words, “Be Mindful” into our minds is a great way to trigger instant mindful awareness, no matter what is happening in any given moment. Use “Be Mindful” to activate the silent observer of your thoughts and feelings without any judgement. When you activate the silent observer, you are also tuning in to your sixth sense or intuition. It is a sure way to tap into your creative genius. It is also a sure way to gain clarity of mind and a strong sense of priority. Be sure to pause and tune in at regular intervals to maintain your mindful practice.
Author: John Shearer
Editor: Travis May