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What Will Your Masterpiece Look Like?

This morning I listened to a Ted Talk entitled Self-Transformation Through Mindfulness by Dr. David Vago. Dr. Vago has a very impressive resume, including being a Research Associate Professor of Psychology in the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, Vanderbilt University. In the simplest terms, he is a researcher in the science of mindfulness, a field I personally find fascinating.

I have spent much of my life believing negative thoughts about myself. A negative thought would lead to a negative feeling, which then led to a negative reaction and ultimately negative behavior. Looking back, it’s no wonder I was depressed and full of self-doubt. As Dr. Vago explains, all of the thoughts and feelings you’ve had and all of your life experiences have led you to where you are today. That said, if you want to change who you will be in the future, you have to change how you view your thoughts right now. This is such a powerful concept, and one I am committed to putting to use everyday.

To be honest, this isn’t always easy, and there are times I fall short. Presently I am coming off of two back-to-back days of having a very negative mindset and hence, feeling really crappy. All of this stems from one negative thought about myself that I have believed since I was 16. Whether or not this one thought is true, is meaningless, because throughout most of my life I’ve believed and acted as if it was. This one thought is so powerful that it makes me feel unworthy, and most of my behavior toward myself and others stems from it. Unfortunately this belief is ingrained in my mind, always ready to pop up and see if I will engage. And I do, although not as often as I used to, thank goodness. But when I do, I go right back to my habitual patterns of feelings and behavior, keeping me in an endless loop of negativity.

What I am now striving to do is to continue to practice meditation and mindful awareness in order to disengage when that negative thought pops up into my mind. I think for some people, including myself, I looked at meditation in a different way. When I first started practicing I thought I was supposed to experience something dramatic, like being transported to a place of extreme peace and joy. Maybe that is why when I first started meditating I thought I was doing something wrong. My mind was full of thoughts, each grabbing my attention, and I couldn’t make them stop popping up. Eventually I felt that meditation was one more thing I wasn’t good at, so I dropped it. Thankfully, I returned. In reality, I now see the goal of meditation isn’t so much to quiet your mind, but to become aware of your thoughts in a non-judgemental way. Today when I meditate, I don’t attempt to push them away, instead I just allow them to move on and be replaced by the next ones. I notice them but I don’t react to them.

Imagine what your life could be like if you stopped grasping onto and believing every negative thought that popped into your head?

People like Dr. Vago are committed to researching the effects of meditation on the brain and how it impacts our overall health and wellbeing. I, for one, can say that meditation and mindfulness practices have helped me incredibly. Like I’ve said in the past, antidepressants saved my life, but mindfulness treatments have dramatically improved it. I am so curious to see where my life will take me, as I stop bringing all of my negative past thoughts and experiences into the present. It’s like being given a clean slate and brand new piece of chalk, and having the chance to create my own unique masterpiece. How incredible is that? And this opportunity is not just for me, but for you too. Commit to starting an awareness practice today because you have your own very own masterpiece to create.

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