Let’s face it: we, as a culture, are addicted to big results. Instantaneous changes. Immediate, life-altering transformations. Instant gratification. We expect programs and products to deliver results fast. We get frustrated with ourselves when our efforts bear fruit only slowly, gradually.
Yet so much of life’s beauty is in the process. And whether you know it or not, that process is forever at work on you, slowly, steadily, making its mark.
Case Study: The Story of My Mindfulness Project
In late April, I began an eight-week mindfulness program. Every morning since, for ten or twenty minutes, I’ve sat, wherever I was, and paid attention.
I went into the project with great expectations: Peace! Stillness! A quiet mind! An aura that radiated “meditator”! I was certain these things would be mine if only I could sit still for a few minutes each day.
Needless to say, there were no fireworks, no aha! moments. My mind has not become eternally silent. I am not a bottomless reservoir of calm, a pillar of tranquility amongst mere mortals.
But I am not disappointed. You see, not only did I fulfill my goal of practicing mindfulness every day — I discovered something really cool in the process:
There is an alternative to huge and fast and dramatic.
The small changes from my mindfulness practice are there. Subtle, deep, but there. I am a little calmer. I’m ever-so-slightly steadier. My anger still flares, but slower and with less heat. I notice the little things more and more.
And? I’m proud of myself. I stuck with it. I set myself a course, and I followed it as best I could. That’s hugely empowering.
Forget about big and flashy.
Life isn’t about those things. Sure, they’re cool when they happen, but the fabric of existence is made of infinitely more delicate stuff. Big and flashy flares and dies. Slow and steady is ongoing.
If you undertake something daunting and don’t get there immediately, have patience. The process isn’t black or white. Instead, you move through countless shades of grey. You chip away, little by little. Keep going. Whatever you’re practicing will seep into
your bones — even if you can’t see it happening. It will begin to manifest itself in your life.
The changes may be tiny at first. Trust that they will grow. One day you will notice them, and you will be amazed. Your efforts are paying off. You are doing it.
Keep at it.
(Oh, and if you’re wondering? My program is officially over, but my mindfulness practice lives on!)
What small, repeated actions have built up momentum in your life?