Why Mindfulness Is Actually Magic, Plain & Simple
When I was a kid I watched I Dream of Jeannie or Bewitched with a sense of wonder and excitement. I can even remember closing the door to the TV room, folding my arms together, concentrating really hard and doing Jeannie’s special maneuver in an attempt to get the room to clean itself up. When I was around 14, I graduated to dancing around a candle while repeating the name of my current crush to get him to notice me.
Sadly, both failed abysmally. In fact, my crush ended up with my best friend! Nevertheless, I held out hope into adulthood. Deep down, I wanted to have a special gift that enabled me to reshape the world according to my preference. In fact, the first time I became curious about spirituality was when it was couched in a veil of magic. I read The Celestine Prophecy, which played heavily on the concept of a magically serendipitous, self-determined life. That really turned me on!
In truth, I couldn't have cared less about the spiritual part. What I found compelling was figuring out a way to make the life I wanted materialize. I was drawn to that kind of alchemy because it held the promise of ultimate mastery over my world.
It never occurred to me that daily life could be intrinsically magical without any need for alteration. If someone had suggested that to me several years ago, I would have thought they were full of BS. My daily life definitely didn't feel magical, and the world around me didn’t seem so magical, either.
The magic was always something remote that my head and heart were invested in reaching, most often a romantic interest or a career opportunity! As it happens, I’ve had more than my fair share of the magic that comes when life circumstances line up in uncanny ways. I’ve been lucky and I’m grateful for that.
I would also credit my mindfulness practice with increasing the frequency and richness of those moments. Even more extraordinary to me has been the revelation that an ordinary, mundane moment can become magical just through the way you perceive it. As far as I’m concerned, that’s where the magic really happens.
How do you feel when you experience something magical? Maybe there’s a sense of wonder, harmony and grace. Maybe it’s humbling or causes profound gratitude to well up in you. When you practice mindfulness you’re developing insight. When insight gets switched on through practice, it has the potential to illuminate the whole of your experience.
This process of illumination is miraculous. It’s magical. Think about any “aha” moment you’ve ever had. Now, untangle the experience of “aha” from the specific form it took. Mindfulness flips the “aha” master switch in your brain, so insight seeps into all the corners of your life.
I’ll give you a small example from my life. I’ve struggled a lot with mind noise over the years. I can get easily lost in thought. But lately, I’ve been completely blown away by the mind’s ability to hear without any objective sound happening. Now, as I turn my attention to the chatter going on in my head (which has driven me totally nuts at times), there's also a sense of wonder at how the activity of mind noise even comes into being. Where does it come from?
As I begin appreciating the miracle of mind noise (no, really!), I stop fighting it; as I stop fighting it, all the energy bound up in fighting it gets freed. I have greater choice about whether to focus on what I’m thinking about or let it go. And less resistance gives the mind noise less fuel, so it dissipates more easily. Less and less at the mercy of compulsive thinking, my energy is freed up for more creative pursuits. Now that’s my kind of magic!
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