How a Year of Mindfulness Is Helping Improve My Mind and Life

Post written by Mic Johnson, Blog Coach | LinkedIn Trainer | WordPress Website Guy | Rational Optimist | Jayhawk | Sushi Lover | @MJMeetings Husband

jon-mcgraw

Jon McGraw

In January 2016, my friend and fellow Introducing Awesome Peer Advisory Group member, Jon McGraw, invited me to participate in a half-day training session to learn about his company, Vision Pursue, and to be introduced to the concept of mindfulness through meditation.

Wikipedia defines mindfulness as the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.”

I’m always looking for ways to improve myself (in case you missed it, I recently wrote about the concept of being 100% present) and this was something well outside of my comfort zone, (aka “where the magic happens.”) Fortunately, I had the time available on my calendar and I also wanted to support Jon and his company, so I agreed to attend.

As I arrived that morning, I saw my friend Sandy Moll and met, for the first time, my friend Stephanie Guin. I was comforted to know we’d all be going through this together. As we sat there for the next four hours listening to Jon and his partner Russ Rausch, I became more and more intrigued by what I was seeing and hearing.

vision-pursueThere was a lot of fascinating information shared that day, but what resonated with me the most was just how much scientific data and proof exists showing that a person can actually retrain the way their brain works…that our conditioned mindset can literally and physically be changed.

When the class was over, Jon and Russ graciously gave all attendees access to their Vision Pursue app, which contains a wide variety of audio meditations, a “Vision Board” where you upload pictures that have meaning and significance to you, and more.

I have no idea how many people in the class ever used the app or if any continue to use it, but I did..and I do. In fact, I’ve been using it for the last 12 months. Here are some of the most important things I’ve learned:

1. Get Over It and Get On With It

I’ll be honest. I’d never meditated before, so I felt a little weird about it. I think a lot of people think that meditation is “new age-y” and only to be done by Buddhist monks or something.

I also think a lot of people let their ego tell them that they should be able to figure out things themselves and that asking or seeking help is a sign of weakness. I couldn’t disagree more. So I told myself to “get over it and get on with it”, and that’s exactly what I did.

Get over it and get on with it! Click To Tweet

mic-mindfulness2. Morning Mindfulness Sets the Tone for the Day

I like doing my mindfulness practice pretty much first thing in the morning. I typically sit in our quiet spare bedroom (that’s where I took this picture recently) and get comfortable as I prepare for the 10-15 minute session.

I’ve found that doing it first thing in the morning is calming and starts my day out on the right path. It’s also a great practice to get into the habit of quieting the mind before taking on all of the day’s emails, meetings, clients, and more.

3. Nighttime Mindfulness Can Be Pretty Sweet Too

I recently started doing it at night sometimes too. The benefits are much of what I described above…quieting the mind from the day and setting myself up for a good night’s rest (My wife Missy recently did it with me and the next morning said “I slept like a ROCK!”)

4. With Practice, The Experience Gets Better

I didn’t practice mindfulness and meditation every single day. I did in the beginning, but found myself transitioning into more of a “maintenance mode”, essentially trusting myself to decide when I could use a good dose of mindfulness.

5. Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good

I’ve learned, and this goes against my natural tendencies, that I don’t have to be perfect and my mindfulness and meditation sessions don’t have to be perfect.

My goals throughout this process were to challenge myself to do something different (ask me about the time I practiced mindfulness while driving…staying behind a car for about 10 minutes that was going much slower than the pace of traffic), to see if I could slow down my racing mind, to see if I could be more present in my interactions with other people, and to see if I could take myself personally to another level of emotional intelligence.

Every single one of those things has been accomplished. I’m not yet a mindfulness Jedi Master, but I’ve made a lot of progress in the last year. I’m proud that I stuck with it and I look forward to continuing the practice for years to come.

What about you? Do you have experience with mindfulness and meditation? I’d love to hear how it’s impacted your life. Please share a comment here for me and other readers of this post or drop me an email at mic@bluegurus.com.

ADDITIONAL NOTES…

*Jon and his team work with a lot of professional athletes/coaches as well as organizations. They are working on a consumer version of their app as well. If you’d like to learn more, you can email him at jon@visionpursue.com.

*Shout out to my friend and client, Lisa Bruemmer, who wrote a blog post about her experience with meditation using Calm. I didn’t even know she was doing it until she shared her post with me…and she’s seen tremendous results! Check out her post It Was Time For Me To Calm Down.

*Another very popular meditation tool is Headspace. In fact, I recently completed their 10 free sessions and signed up for their service for a year. I often mix in some of their tools with the VisionPursue app I’ve been using.

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