I would have to say I only truly discovered Mindfulness in the last 18 months or so and the varying wisdom and meaning that it navigates. Before this Mindfulness to me was a ‘cool’ concept that was seemingly gaining increased popularity and it provided nuances of ‘happiness.’
With my further application and understanding of this topic, I am enjoying the idea and early exploration of transition that Eckhart Tolle shares as going from low self-esteem, to high self-esteem to a transition of ‘no-self.’
During my twenties I could portray confidence and achieve conventional success and gradually through pushing my boundaries with heart and often stumbling my self-esteem grew significantly. Many things in my life appeared to be going well from friendships, dating, finances grew and more. I often worked very long hours and although I was not directly career focussed; I was focussed on helping and project managing third world community projects across varying countries; notably Pakistan and DR Congo; and also had visions for creating several ethical businesses that would compliment my journey in life. I often got home after a long day to see my house mates and I although I often felt exhaustion, I also felt a sense of pride and sense of control about who I was.
More recently I have discovered that although I was happy in many ways in my life and I had and have so much to be grateful for; particularly in comparison to individuals in community projects that I voluntarily help; my happiness was often around goal achievement. If I had a powerful phone call that day around a project or achieved a project goal then I would have a surge of energy and take this with me and share this exuberance with others. I would always be kind and empathetic to friends, families and strangers a like; yet the daily goal success was often the foundation of my surge of happiness. It resulted in my thoughts often being set in the future through visualisation and hope. This meant that I often was not truly present minded or as close to as I could be when I saw my loved ones or even on a walk-in nature. My thoughts were often future focussed and repressing ghosts of the past.
Mindful Thinking and activity such as jogging, presence in nature and the notion of sitting calmly with loved ones with expression, empathy, eye contact and putting the distraction of my phone away has resulted in a profound connection with life. I find happiness and meaning in the small daily things and ghosts of my past no longer haunt me; they simply float by as clouds in the sky. I am the youngest in my family dynamic and therefore have not grown up with children. Mindfulness has helped me create a deeper connection with my young niece and fall in love with the subtle simplicities of her laugh and her curiosity for the world. No longer is my mindset on a business scope of making the most out of each day but actually something with more grace and enjoying subtle beauty’s and meanings in daily life. Each day is maturing from a target of actions to a more authentic engagement with loved ones and nature.
I am a Positive Psychology Practitioner, Mindfulness Teacher and Emotional Intelligence Teacher. I have always been fascinated with depth in life and joining various dots to find compassion and a deeper purpose to worldly forms. I have rediscovered my love for mythology and philosophy as well.
Meaningful Paths aims to connect individuals to charities and notably third world community projects. This goes much deeper than giving to charity and connects human beings who want to make connections and volunteer their skills to help those less fortunate than themselves. As a voluntary project lead for communities suffering from extreme poverty and social conflicts, I often focussed the foundation of resolutions being based around money. As I have learnt more about the depths of Mindfulness and studied Positive Psychology, I have changed the foundations of projects to human connection, kindness and compassion. Money can be a fuel for good or bad but it is the true compassion and detachment from egotistical values that will transform societies in conflict in my opinion. I am not suggesting that Mindfulness meditation will transform the world directly but I do truly believe that Mindful thinking and an understanding of true self versus our ego make up can be the gateway to ending conflict, minimising the effects of poverty and more. We often see practical solutions taking the fore when we may actually need to focus initial solutions around Mindful thinking and integrate practical solutions into such a plan. As a good friend of mine Vernon Sankey suggests; ‘the outer world is an expression of our inner world.’
Within my studies and personal exploration of Meaning Centred Practices I have used Mindfulness to navigate and energise this process. I often used a more Teleological perspective / ladder view on goal achievement. Meaning Centred Practices and Mindfulness Based Meaning have helped me completely change my view of the world and myself. This approach teaches us how to navigate our daily life and allow meaning to open itself subjectively to us whether this might be a top down or bottom up approach. We begin to unpeel our own hierarchies or personal meaning which contracts significantly to our view of hierarchies developed by upbringing, the media and more. I used to be focussed on a bigger purpose to ‘do good in the world’ but this resulted in me missing out on daily meaning and connection with loved ones and nature. With Mindfulness Based Meaning I can explore kind daily interaction with compassion whilst still having a bigger vision to move towards. We are goal orientated beings and it is important that we have something to move towards; albeit Mindfulness teaches us to enjoy the journey and grow as an individual instead of missing out on the pleasure of climbing a mountain. Some of us may feel lost in the world right now and concepts of depression can result from our plausible negativity bias taking control. Our subconscious mind will run our daily lives without us even realising and Mindfulness has helped me significantly understand more about my true self and to detach myself from negative thinking.
In my early practice with Mindfulness I often became frustrated when one day I felt very spiritually connected and the next I felt lost. The concept of ‘let it be,’ became a powerful learning in my understanding of Mindfulness. Beyond this Mindfulness Based Meaning helped me to remain present but explore and channel my deeper values as a human being without the projection of the media adverts portraying ‘what should make me happy / a pill for happiness concept’.
If you have tried a Mindfulness meditation it is naturally uncomfortable at first at will take time. I urge you not to view Mindfulness as a ‘cool hobby’ that celebrities use or as a class on a Tuesday evening which offers social status. Mindfulness itself is not necessarily the ‘cool thing’ thing in itself; it is a personal compass for you to explore what holds value to you, the truth behind your emotions and the pathway to a truly meaningful and peaceful life that will hold profound physical, emotional and spiritual health for you and those around you. The journey in itself and the new world detached from your ego is the seriously cool thing. Once you begin to live a life in alignment with your values and use Mindfulness as a compass you can really change your life.
A final thought inspired by Viktor Frankl and Michael Steger; each of us live our meanings at the intersection of circumstances and choice. We don’t have to be successful in a conventional sense; but be mindful and find what values and matters to use during daily events and from this we can make choices that have meaning.
Thank you for listening to my story and I encourage you to go out and to live yours.