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Wellness

How I Came To Learn About The Power Of Mindfulness

I discovered this practice through the New York Times, which reported that it was actually the technique that helped a former astronaut live to the age of 115.

For many years I believed that all that was needed for a happier life was the right kind of discipline and discipline alone. I believed that it was enough to discipline myself in order to get better grades or get into the right school — in order to make the most of my time.

I failed to realize that the way to get better grades or be accepted into the right school wasn’t the discipline in my life — it was my relationships and my interactions with other people, my relationships with work, the relationships we had in our social circle, the relationships that we had at church, in sports (all the other stuff we used to think was the answer, but it wasn’t), in the business world, with friends, with my colleagues, with the people who knew me best in the world. This isn’t even including things like how I made every effort to be social. And then I had that revelation:

I wasn’t just getting better grades as I was trying hard all along. I was getting better grades by simply being .

The real reward wasn’t the grades, it was the opportunities that came from trying really hard and making a difference. I was making a difference in my life — in my relationships with those closest to me, and people in the world around me; I was making a difference in the lives of many people. This is what I’d been searching for — but I’d just been so busy pursuing my grades and studying and doing the same type of learning work over and over until I was tired. Maybe by taking time out, I’d be more aware of what I was doing to myself, what I was spending my time doing to other people. Maybe I’d start to figure out who I was at least some way. It was that realization that really brought me back to the beginning.

But what was that “something” that I was missing at last? And how do we figure out what needs to change for us to discover what the right thing to change to do is? So when I came to the Dharma, I saw a lot of teachings that were really more about helping us to change what it is we are doing to our thoughts, rather than to change how we think.

And that meant:

1. What am I actually doing to myself?

This one is a little bit different: When you think you have a certain quality as a person, you tend to focus on it when the other people around you are making assumptions about you. You tend to focus on it while you are thinking about what other people are saying about you.

So you can look at your attitude and your thought processes when you are around other people. You can try and change the way you think instead of the way you’ve been thinking; maybe it’s time to learn how to use “thoughtfulness” to improve your thinking, instead of to correct other people’s thinking.

2. Why are my thoughts the way they are?

3. What have I been saying to myself about my thoughts in the past that makes them the way they are?

4. What am I actually thinking when I am alone?

5. What thoughts might I be trying to think for myself if I took some time out every day to really figure out what it is I’m doing to think by looking at the question of why I’m thinking the thoughts I’m thinking?

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