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How Do You Know It’s Working?

If there’s one question I get asked more than any other, it’s how you’re supposed to know when mindfulness is working.

The answer, I’m afraid, is not very satisfying.

Truth is, mindfulness is working when nothing happens.

In other words, it’s working when you no longer associate with the thoughting mind.

When you no longer react in anxiety, fear, comparisons, and anger.

And when you’re okay with just riding the waves of life versus constantly swimming against the current.

If you’ve read Who Says It’s a Man’s World, you’ll know this is what I meant when I said you have to “cut the crap” in order to “call in the good stuff” – meaning you have to ditch the behaviors that don’t serve you to make room for the ones that do.

And when you get that right, I promise you nothing happens.

Of course, by “nothing” I’m referring to a deep sense of spaciousness and freedom from roller-coaster emotions or – to put it another way – to feel like you’re mentally at the beach versus mentally trapped in, say, a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.

What troubles me is that some of us are actually drawn to the chaos of Chuck E. Cheese, which is to say that we are hooked on drama, emotion, and busy-ness either because it’s what’s familiar to us based on long-ingrained behavior patterns, or because it’s what makes us feel alive.

Indeed, over the years I’ve had a lot of people tell me they respect what I do (insert fictional head pat) but they could never stop the freight train of their lives long enough to take conscious pauses throughout the day or go through the discipline required for a serious professional development, yoga, or meditation practice.

To which I reply, “That’s fine, but do you love the life you’ve built?”

For the record, this is NOT the same thing as asking, “Do you have a big house, wine in the cellar, and fashionable clothes?”

I’m not knocking those things – I adore them myself – but what I really want to know is whether they are living deeply, with positive impact on others, and through all five senses.

We’re not here forever, people.

To live the life you truly deserve, you can’t just go through the motions regardless of how big your house is.

So…. when you’re finally ready to ditch external running and chaos for internal strength and stillness, that’s when you know you’re ready for mindfulness.

And when you’ve actually done it, well, that’s when you know it’s working.

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