My ‘Aha!’ Moment of Mindfulness
Contributor: Elizabeth Thibaudeau
Over the years, I’ve never really thought much about meditation or mindfulness. I was busy living my hectic life moving from one activity to the next...until I experienced a few 'aha! moments of mindfulness.
I’m about as far as you can get from being a Yogi or meditation expert. Truth be told, if you’re one of those mental mind masters, what I’m about to share will more than likely bore you to tears…
But if you find yourself somewhere in the middle (middle of the beginning, like me) — intrigued by the conversation but weary of the use of the word ‘practice’, then you’re right where you belong.
Over the years, I’ve never really thought much about meditation or mindfulness. I was busy living my hectic life moving from one activity to the next. Actually, it was more like juggling six different things and gloating about my masterful approach managing it all.
I’ve always been a relatively positive person, as positive as a Type A personality can be. And I definitely believe in the power of a growth mindset so I’ve been forever open to new challenges and experiences.
About a year ago I picked up a book by Dan Harris called 10% Happier and read a quote that truly resonated with me: “mindfulness allows you to be in control of your emotions as opposed to being controlled by them.”
You may be asking, what does meditation and mindfulness have to do with one another? The way I look at it, and the way many experts explain it, is simply that meditation helps you develop mindfulness.
So after reading his book, I decided to give it a try. I downloaded his app and I was off and running. Except, I kept forgetting or my mornings were busier than I imagined and I would fall back into old habits by jumping into email or texts first thing in the morning. Nonetheless, I look at each week as a fresh start to begin again…kind of like every Monday is January 1st for me. ☺
After about a year of practicing this new habit, I still haven’t found a great routine — in full transparency, I’ve only meditated twice this week, once for 2 minutes and another for 5. But it’s progress, and I’m a huge proponent of celebrating the small victories!
Okay, so now for my AHA moment…
I have a tendency to be an outspoken person and there are times when I may cross a boundary or two and offend someone. This particular day, it was with someone I care about very much. I had clearly hurt their feelings by expressing my authenticity in an insensitive manner.
They chose to send me a text detailing all the wrongs of my ways and my immediate reaction, my snap judgment was to jump into a retort explaining my side and rationalizing my earlier remarks. Annnnddd, I did just that! Then the next one came in and it provided even more color and now came back more accusatory than the first.
This time…I stopped, took a breath and collected my thoughts. I wrote and rewrote my response 100 times in my head but then something happened. I started to relax, my heart stopped pounding, compassion filled my chest and I recognized that this was an opportunity for me to learn, to grow and to become a better version of myself.
Then the AHA moment happened…this is MINDFULNESS. And no, I was not in the least bit perfect at it, because I would’ve never sent the first text but I’ll relish in the fact that I refrained from sending another and I also diffused the situation by gaining control of my emotions.
This may seem like a silly example, but how many times have you wished you could take back your initial reaction to a certain situation?
Being mindful gives you the power to overcome the urge to react so that you can decide how best to proceed.
I felt pretty darn proud during this moment of realization, and also grateful for the opportunity to continue on my journey to becoming better every day.
Have you had a similar ‘Aha’ moment or been in a situation that made you change the way you responded? Share in the comments below, and stay tuned for my next ‘Mindful Moment’!