Finding meaning through mindfulness

Mindful behaviour is not only linked to maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness, but aids in finding and connecting to those values that give life a deeper meaning. Elena Iacovou investigates.

Field

It’s not uncommon to believe that we can find meaning from the things we achieve: career progression, a good salary, a new car or a lovely big house. But if that’s the case, why are so many so-called ‘successful’ people feeling dissatisfied and struggling to find meaning in their daily lives?

If we’re habitually seeking validation outside of ourselves, we can be left feeling discontent when our ‘achievements’ fail to provide us with long-term fulfilment. So, how can we learn to appreciate the little things and find value in all areas of our lives? Emerging research is showing that by engaging in mindful behaviour and looking within, we can learn to connect with every experience.

Mindful behaviour

When we’re mindful, we’re better able to maintain moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and our environment. We’re more aware of our thought patterns, are better equipped to experience our emotions as they arise and are able to understand how these factors impact our everyday lives.

Mindful behaviour brings acceptance to our waking experiences, which in turn gives us the freedom to respond thoughtfully in any given situation. Instead of acting on impulse, we can respond with nonjudgmental awareness. So the next time we feel panic or anxiety, we’re better able to acknowledge what we’re feeling in that moment and allow whatever arises to be.

Together with mindful breath control, or pranayama techniques, we can choose more beneficial outcomes. When we incorporate this into our daily lives, we’re able to take time to stop and cultivate purposeful awareness of what we’re doing. When we’re present through a daily task, such as walking through nature or enjoying a meal, we’re more able to appreciate the beauty that comes from the little things.

Determine your values

Ask yourself:

  • What is truly important to me?
  • What do I want my life to stand for?
  • What sort of qualities do I want to cultivate as a person?
  • How do I want to be in relationships with others?

Reap the benefits

Living authentically fosters many health benefits; through extensive research it has been suggested that when people are living in line with their values, they experience general life-satisfaction, more positive experiences and flourishing relationships with others.

Researchers have also found that the more we come to understand ourselves, the more we develop compassion and understanding for others. “Mindfulness naturally expands your ability to express empathy and compassion in the world,” adds Dr Elise Bialylew, psychiatrist, social entrepreneur and founder of Mindful in May. “In effect, this makes you more generous and motivates you to want to contribute and make a difference, which is a powerful catalyst for goodness in the world and it also fulfils your life in unimaginable ways.”

Author Tara Thorne

Read more mindfulness and wellbeing articles in Breathe Magazine Australiayour body-and-soul guide to a happier, healthier life.

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