Benefits of Mindfulness: My Experiences
For such a simple practice, mindfulness has truly impacted my life in many positive ways.
When I first started practicing, I never imagined that I would experience such a variety of benefits! I was hoping it would help me manage stress more effectively, but to be honest, I wasn’t even sure how it would do that. Over the years, I’ve discovered how easy it can be to incorporate mindfulness into my life and how meaningful it can be!
Below, you’ll discover some of the benefits I’ve experienced as a result of my mindfulness practice, including stronger relationships, better sleep, more calm and clarity, overcoming fears and accepting where I’m at in life (and being grateful for it!).
There are several ways mindfulness has helped me strengthen my relationships!
I’ve become a better listener. Being present and less distracted by my thoughts about the past and future means I have more capacity to genuinely listen.
Generally, I’m less annoyed by the little things. Mindfulness has cultivated my ability to step away from challenging situations, take a deep breath and discover a new perspective. Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking myself if I actually want to react to the situation or if I would prefer to let it go.
I communicate more effectively. Before I started practicing mindfulness, I often felt a lot of strong emotions and didn’t really understand why, which meant I struggled to talk about them. Now, I’m more in tune with my feelings and what triggers them, so I’m able to talk about them much easier.
I have a deeper sense of connection and gratitude. Taking the time each day to recognise my appreciation for the people I care about (and to let them know!) has helped me focus on how lucky I am to be surrounded by these people.
More calm and clarity
Before I started practicing mindfulness, stress was my norm. I always felt slightly on edge, like the rug would be pulled out from underneath me at any time. I didn’t like to be alone because my racing thoughts were overwhelming. The tiniest hiccups would send me into a fluster and panic. I often cried for no reason, other than the fact that my thoughts and feelings felt out of control. I didn’t believe that I was ever good enough and spent so much time trying to prove otherwise (to both myself and other people).
I hardly knew what it felt like to have regular calm and clarity in my life until I started being more mindful. Finally, I realised that my stress was often a result of my own thoughts, beliefs and choices and I had some power to change them. It wasn’t easy and I worked with professionals to do this, as well as trying many different mindfulness practices myself. Over time, my stress has gradually reduced and been replaced by more calm and clarity.
I used to take a few hours to fall asleep at night, wake regularly and struggle to go back to sleep. I always felt tired and increasingly frustrated by not being able to sleep well. The more I've practiced mindfulness techniques, such as breathing exercises and meditation, the more my sleeping habits have improved.
Rather than lying awake at night, planning for the rest of the week or thinking about past regrets, I now turn off the light and fall asleep almost straight away. A few years ago, I never thought I would be able to do that! Some nights are more difficult than others, but I try not to get frustrated and, instead, continue doing my favourite mindfulness practices.
Sign up to my Free Gifts Library here to access a meditation for sleep, which I recorded for my mindful community. This meditation combines my favourite mindfulness practices, including body scanning, passive relaxation, breathing techniques and affirmations to help you gently fall asleep.
Be sure to check out my article, How to Have the Best Sleep of You Life, for more tips on better sleep :)
I love to share my story about public speaking and how mindfulness helped me realise I could actually attempt to overcome this fear (rather than avoid it my entire life!). In fact, I’ve shared this story about my fears of public speaking while doing public speaking presentations!
I’m now in the process of challenging my phobia towards snakes- a phobia which developed when I was twelve years old and stepped on a brown snake while I was walking on my parent’s farm. For years, I haven’t been able to see a snake (even on television) without instinctively lifting my feet off the ground, my heart starting to race and my palms becoming sweaty. Even thinking about snakes makes me feel uncomfortable and it’s difficult to leave my feet on the floor (where they feel exposed).
Accepting where I’m at in life
(and being grateful for it!)
I used to spend so much energy wishing time would pass so I could do all the things I wanted to do and be the person I wanted to be. I was always in such a rush! If there was a fast forward button, I definitely would have pushed it. I imagined my future and my “perfect” life and wish I could open my eyes and be there, living in my dream house, with the low-stress, high-paying and well-respected job (let me know if you hear of one of those, by the way!), surrounded by a loving family and spending every day blissfully happy.
I didn’t appreciate this messier, unpredictable, challenging and rough-around-the-edges life. It isn’t perfect. My alarm goes off in the morning and I don’t spring out of bed with a huge smile and an inspirational song playing in the background. I have bad hair days. I worry about money. I forget to do the washing and go to work without my socks on. I waste time on social media and then wish I hadn’t. I turn into a grump when I’m tired (or hungry!). People I care about get hurt.
My life isn't perfect- is anyone's? Ever?
Imagine if I had spent my life trying to fast-forward to that! I would have missed all the good stuff.
The dusty pink sunrise on my walk to work. My dog’s excitement when we take off his lead at the park. A hug from someone I love. Warm apple crumble with ice cream. A thoughtful comment on my Instagram post. Laughing so hard I cry. The first sip of my morning coffee.
Being mindful gives me the opportunity to stop rushing, sink into the moment and accept it for what it is. To be grateful for it, even when it isn’t easy or “perfect.”