We know meditation is a great way to improve our quality of life—it makes us happier, more productive, and improves our relationships. But practicing mindfulness is just as important for getting us through the hard times.
A year ago, I was faced with the greatest challenge of my life when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 26 years old. What started with a little pain in my feet within a couple of months had become chronic pain in my entire body. I quickly went from being a personal trainer, aerialist, and movement junkie to not being able to dress myself, cut my own food, or even tie my shoelaces.
My whole world had shifted, and so began the journey of adapting to my new situation. Key to my recovery was my meditation practice, which had been an important part of my life for many years. Without my knowledge of mindfulness, my world during this time would have been a much darker place. This serves as a reminder that working on ourselves in the best of times is extremely important so that when the hard times come around, we are prepared to deal with them.
This is how mindfulness can help you overcome challenges.
Mindfulness gives you perspective.
Mindfulness allows you to take a step back from your current situation and view things objectively, without making an emotional judgment about the situation. When times are hard, adopting a new perspective can help you find gratitude and find the positives in a seemingly dark place.
Despite my pain, I'm constantly grateful for my young, strong body that allows me to work through my illness and that I have a wonderful, loving support network.
Mindfulness helps you process anger.
Oftentimes, seemingly unfair circumstances that are outside of our control can make us angry. When we are angry, we are in a bad mood and our relationships suffer. Mindfulness teaches us to explain our anger instead of expressing it, and to respond to situations instead of reacting to them. We learn to take a breath before letting our emotions get the better of us, making sure we don't take our anger out on other people.
Mindfulness leads you to acceptance.
A huge part of overcoming any difficult situation is accepting that it cannot be changed. Mindfulness helps us accept our circumstances for what they are, helping us come to terms with the fact that they may not be able to change. Mindfulness also reminds us that while our circumstances may not change, our attitude toward them can. You can choose how you live with the cards you have been dealt.
Mindfulness gives you clarity.
The perspective that we gain from mindfulness results is clarity. Once we remove the fog from the emotional response and have a clear view of what has happened, mindfulness allows us to make a rational and carefully considered plan of action on how to proceed. While sometimes I feel like I just want to spend the whole day in bed feeling sorry for myself for being in pain, every day I wake up, meditate, and prepare myself to tackle another day.