The mindfulness we cultivate in the act of meditation has scientifically beneficial effects on our minds and bodies. But a much more profound experience is that of becoming our own best friend.
Mindfulness is a way of relating to our experience that opens us to the totality of it - that is, we learn to embrace it all, the joy and the heartache. But some experiences are harder to be with. It’s difficult to be with physical or emotional pain, and we often retreat to the mind in search of distractions. But when we are able to fully be with our experience, something that feels like magic happens.
Many people wait until they've fully understood something before they're willing to take that necessary step into action. But here's the thing - with mindfulness, the real learning comes through the doing. Concepts are helpful, but the practice is where a true embodied understanding is born.
Whenever we pursue a new activity, we’re often focused on the goal that activity is set to achieve. For example, in the case of meditation, we often come to the practice with the hope, expectation or goal that it will achieve a desired outcome; less stress, more joy, overall improved health, etc. That’s normal. However, two researchers from the University of Chicago, Fishbach and Choi, were able to demonstrate how our motivation to pursue and to stick with an activity is impacted by how we attend to the activity.