For more than 25 years, I have been a student of mindfulness. I was first introduced to paying attention to my mindset in 1992 when I attended a leadership development program that took an inside out approach. It was where I first learned how to meditate along with some other resourceful tools.
When I arrived at the program on that Sunday afternoon, I was excited and eager about what experience might come during this week in isolation from my family, friends, and work. I was ready to fully immerse myself in this learning opportunity.
I arrived as a 33-year-old man who smoked and drank too much. I was smoking nearly two packs a day consistently. I was only drinking while traveling, and I was traveling every week. On one flight between Houston and St. Louis, I drank seven drinks while in first class.
The week-long program was filled with information and activities that I had never done before. I had the opportunity to learn how to meditate in the mornings before the program started and at the close late at night when the very long days had finished.
The personal assessments that I filled out held up the mirror for me to see my harmful habits. Each of the questionnaires that I completed gave me more of a picture of who I was at that time. My conclusion was that my life was out of control and I was the one who made happen.
There was one particular assessment that seemed to encompass all that was out of alignment for me, the physical inventory questionnaire was a massive wake up call. It clearly showed that I was on a destructive path that might very well lead to a heart attack or death. I had the thought that this was a very scary place to be at 33 years old.
There was an opportunity for me to speak with the facilitator one on one about my results and I jumped on scheduling it. I remember when we met, I was agitated and anxious and she was calm and still. As she looked over my results, she took several deep breaths. I was ready to listen to what she had to share with me and in fact I had my notebook ready for the notes I would take.
She started by telling me that these results are from a man who wants to harm himself and in fact, he wants to die. He is slowly killing himself with these unhealthy habits. His and is made up to kill himself and these habits are his way of making that happen.
I was riveted to every word she shared with me and I did not take any notes, it was all sinking in at a level I had never experienced. She got to me, her message hit me like a punch to the gut. I stopped sobbing and asked her, what can I do to stop killing myself?
She looked at me and said, it is all in your mindset. She then gave me three blue index cards and asked me to write a life-affirming statement on each one, I had just learned about affirmations in that program. When each card had an affirmation on it, she told me to carry these cards in your pocket and read them throughout the day as many times as needed to interrupt smoking a cigarette or reaching for a drink.
I put the cards in the pocket as I stood up, she was already standing and posturing for a hug-something I did not do very well in those days. As I left, I knew that I had just been given the opportunity to make a pivot in my life.
When I arrived in my hotel room, I took my cigarette pack and light and dropped them into the trash can. The loud noise they made when they hit the bottom still comes to mind when I think of that decision.
When it came time to fly home at the end f the week, I was no longer a smoker and I did not have a drink on the flight. I was not the same person who had arrived at the program a week earlier.
I ended up having those affirmation cards in my pocket for several months. I was able to focus on them and in essence shoot my mindset. It did take some time for my family, friends, and colleagues to get used to some of my changes and in the end they were all supportive.
I took what I learned in that first experience with mindset shifts and started applying it to other parts of my life. As a result of a shift, I returned to university that fall and completed my bachelor’s degree.
I recently worked with an expert mindfulness coach, who supported me in going deeper than I have ever gone on some tightly held paradigms. The result was a massive shift in my mindset, that shattered my way of thinking about some painful experiences from my past. I immediately felt the relief of releasing those heavy and burdensome thoughts and replacing them with much kinder thoughts.
I am as committed to mindfulness today as I was that day nearly 28 years ago. The impact and difference that it has made in my life, is indeed life-changing and saving.
Anything is possible with your mindset when you are working with the best coach and are willing to be open-minded and open-hearted. This combination has supported me in going deeper and deeper with my mindset work over the past 28 years, with some meaningful results!!!
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want to join our calls on a regular basis, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo courtesy iStock