There have been many times in my life when I knew that what I was doing didn’t feel right. Whether it was doing mindlessly monotonous exercises at school, being encouraged to down pints at university as a form of male bonding, spending time with people I didn’t feel I could be myself around, being in a relationship that didn’t nourish me on doing a job that I didn’t feel passionate about. The problem I had was that I didn’t know what would feel good.
Becoming more mindful of my thoughts and feelings has really helped me to understand what does and does not feel good to me, and in that way, it’s permitting me to align more with my ‘truth’. It might sound like a rather hippy term, but to me it just means living in a way that feels right to me, rather than suppressing the thoughts and feelings that tell me ‘This is wrong. This isn’t nourishing you. You need to change this situation’
One of the main things that makes me feel aligned with my truth is facilitating group and one to one mindfulness sessions. When I’m doing my thing I feel calm, present, deeply connected with the people I’m with and really satisfied with what’s happening in that moment. I feel touched by people saying how the session has helped them feel less stressed or anxious. I’m moved by people often saying how valuable it is for them to know that they’re not the only one that struggles with things. I feel more alive, happy and satisfied and the end of a session than I did at the start. That’s how I know that doing this type of thing is living my truth.
A big part of mindfulness is acceptance. Accepting yourself, other people and your circumstances. Accepting the present moment as something to work with and learn from rather than resist. Accepting your emotions rather than beating yourself up for the way you feel. It doesn’t mean passively accepting all that life throws at you. That’s when accepting and respecting your desires and needs is vital.
I’ve find this a tricky concept to work with. Part of me has felt that if I have difficulties with people: if they wind me up at work, if they don’t let me get a word in edgeways, if they’re exhaustingly negative, I need to just accept that. To some extent that is the case, and I’ve improved some of my relationships with people by making an effort to understand their perspective and empathise with them rather than judging them or resiting the way they are.
But practising expressing my truth to people is opening up a whole new avenue of growth and development. When I tell people how I feel in relation to them, expressing my truth, it helps both of us. So often I’ve been afraid that being honest will make them think less of me and damage our relationship, but in my experience, it rarely does. I think Sam Harris puts it well in his book Lying:
“Honesty is a gift we can give to others. It is also a source of power and an engine of simplicity. Knowing that we will attempt to tell the truth, whatever the circumstances, leaves us with little to prepare for. We can simply be ourselves.”
I think there’s a lot of truth in that.
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