Imagine that you lie down to go to sleep and you find that you just can't turn off your mind. Maybe it's reliving the day's events with a critical eye, or maybe it's churning through the list of challenges and problems that are waiting for you in the morning. Some amount of stress is built into our modern lives and having the tools to deal with it has become an essential skillset for living well. Mindfulness meditation offers one reliable pass to peace of mind if you are willing to practice.
Some people assume that learning how to meditate will magically make all the problems in their life go away and that they will walk around all day in a blissful state of mind. It is true that meditation can teach you how to access special and unique states of mind and can eventually bring you tremendous amounts of peace. But rather than building this peace on avoidance and running from the true facts of your life, mindfulness meditation brings peace by teaching you how to face the reality of things directly. Once whatever is demanding attention in your awareness is acknowledged and addressed then peace arises naturally in the absence of agitation. This natural peace is much more stable and enduring than any state of mind built on avoidance no matter how blissful it might temporarily feel.
One of the things that made the introduction of mindfulness meditation so revolutionary to the field of psychology is the way it turned many of the basic tenets of traditional therapy on their heads. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which is by far the most commonly practiced type of psychotherapy, is built on overcoming and rejecting any unreasonable or unhealthy thoughts that lead to depression or anxiety through rational analysis and force of will. Not only does this approach overlook any deeper motivations or psychological dynamics that might be driving those thoughts in the first place, it also ultimately leads to even deeper divisions within the self by expecting people to fight back against their own natural tendencies in thinking. Mindfulness, with it's emphasis on acceptance and observation without attachment, creates room for openness and wholeness within the field of your awareness. Each aspect of your experience is given room to be exactly what it is. This greater openness and objectivity naturally leads to a unity within the self that is experienced as both clarity of purpose and deep peace of mind.
Being mindful of your emotions takes some practice. Rather than indulging in your emotions to the point that you drown in them, or repressing them for one reason or another, mindfulness teaches you how to recognize your emotional experience for exactly what it is. This allows you to benefit from the information and messages your emotional experience contains without becoming overwhelmed by it. It definitely takes some practice.
At times you may have the tendency to overindulge in superficial emotional reactions that are based on misinterpretations of reality or perhaps your ego needs. Mindfulness helps you to identify these superficial emotions - and see them clearly for what they are. At other times you might try to avoid your emotional experience or even to deny it altogether. This avoidance of your experience is actually the exact opposite of mindfulness. As your mindfulness practice deepens, the protective wall separating you from your full experience of the moment, emotions and all, slowly begins to dissolve. You will discover that as the more superficial and reactive layers of your experience are seen through, there is room for deeper and more truthful parts of yourself to emerge into view. This process results in greater openness, clarity, and ease of being. It also results in a much deeper connection with your own truest self.