The concepts of mindfulness and the law of attraction have been explored in Western culture for decades. But in recent years the practice of these two concepts have shifted from their mystical roots to a broader mainstream acceptance in the fields of psychology, health and science.
The Law of Attraction draws what you want into your life, but do you know what you really want? Mindfulness is the missing ingredient.
We're now learning how mindfulness and mindful meditation can be used to promote emotional health, reduce stress, lengthen your attention span, improve sleep, control pain, mitigate cravings and addictions, and decrease blood pressure.
Combine these benefits with the fact that mindfulness and meditation can be practiced anywhere by anyone, and it's easy to understand why the concepts are growing in popularity and helping millions lead happier lives.
But what do mindfulness and the law of attraction really mean?
Mindfulness is simply slowing down enough to notice all the little things inside and around you without judgment.
It's easy to stop for a moment and notice a beautiful sunset, yet mindfulness involves much more. Mindfulness is stopping to notice the sunset, how the light touches every element in the environment, and how it makes you feel - all without thoughts of your next task, what happened earlier that day, or anything else.
Mindfulness is being fully in the moment. Ultimately, it's being without any doing.
A difficult aspect of mindfulness is to notice without judgment. Humans are judging machines. It's hard-wired into us. We're constantly judging ourselves and those around us as "good" or "bad". As thoughts run through our heads, we label them, causing us to experience emotions.
Mindfulness is the process of objectively observing thoughts and emotions as they pass through without allowing them to control us.
We are not our thoughts and emotions.
They are separate from us. And the more we can understand this truism, the easier it becomes to watch our thoughts do their dance then let them go.
You and Your Monkey
To explain this concept further, it helps to see 2 different aspects of yourself. There's the real you which is the True Self, the one who always knows what's best and acts from the heart - from love. Then there's the monkey mind that does everything in its power to keep you in the same place. It tries to convince you that it's keeping you safe and uses fear as its power source. The monkey lives in your head and will begin screeching all sorts of fear-based ideas the second you start to consider something new.
Most people listen to their monkey and feel the monkey's fear. As a result, they act based on what they assume others will think of them, what's expected of them, or what they think they're worthy of. The monkey doesn't have your best interests in mind. It has its best interests in mind.
Alternatively, your True Self speaks softly so it's often hard to hear its whispers. It always knows what is truly best for you and only you.
By practicing mindfulness, you can objectively observe the antics of the monkey (laughing at him helps), allowing him to burn up all of his energy screeching and jumping around. When he finally calms down, you can then begin to hear the serene whispers of your True Self.
What does it mean to practice mindfulness on a daily basis? It means being present, releasing judgment, releasing attachment, and acceptance.
Being present in the moment is about being still enough in your mind and body to notice exactly what is happening in that moment without judgment. There are no narratives about the past or the future running through your mind. There are no distractions pulling your attention from what or who you're being present with. You're simply there, breathing, noticing what arises.
To bring yourself into that state, it can be helpful to close your eyes, take 3 deep breaths, and slowly say to yourself, "Be here now."
But what does this look like in the real world?
Let's say you're having a stressful day and someone close to you wants to discuss something important. Not being fully present would include checking your phone, thinking about the possible negative outcomes around your deadlines, worrying if your boss will like what you've submitted, and being very hungry while you "listen to" the other person.
Being present would include asking the person to come back after you've had something to eat, turning your phone off or putting it where you can't see it, and choosing to let go of work outcomes for now so you can completely focus on your friend.
The impulse to judge people, situations, and ourselves can be powerful. Yet, by moving from judging to observing, you become more aware of the stories that fuel judgment.
For example, if you get in an argument with your partner, you may begin to judge what they did or said, making up stories about them as a result of those judgments. Judgement and storytelling get in the way of what's actually happening in the moment.
When you release your judgments and objectively notice what the other person is saying, you may find that they intended something completely different than what you initially thought.
We tend to become attached to things that we label as "good" because we want more of them. If we decide to pursue a certain goal, it's because we perceive the result of achieving the goal will be "good" in some way.
According to various wisdom traditions, this labeling or attachment to our desires creates suffering. These teachings instead promote nonattachment, which doesn't mean you stop wanting the desire. It means that you're no longer attached to (or hooked by) the outcome.
For example, maybe you pursue someone to create a relationship with them. You think that the relationship is the goal. If you're attached to the goal, you suffer as long as you haven't established the kind of relationship you desire with the person you desire. You'll be very upset if you don't end up in a great relationship with the other person.
Yet, if you practice nonattachment, you'll be more focused on noticing what's happening in each moment rather than how close you are to the goal. You'll be thinking about the great times you have with the other person. You'll notice how you improve your relationship with yourself in the process. If you end up in a great relationship with the other person, it will feel more like a continuation of the wonderful present moments you experience each day. If things don't work out, you'll be grateful for all the fun-filled experiences you shared and the personal growth you experienced and move on with your life.
In the land of nonattachment, there's very little suffering.
Releasing attachment leads to acceptance.
Acceptance means finding peace in the way things are-and it's very closely tied to awareness. How can we accept our current situation if we aren't aware of the abundance that's already there? The opposite of acceptance is resistance. Instead of lamenting about how things "should" be, try asking yourself how you can immerse yourself in the moment.
When you begin to notice feelings of anxiety, frustration, and anger, realize that you have a choice to not feel that way.
You can choose to accept what you're frustrated about, see the positive side (which you may conveniently ignore in the moment), and make new choices. It's from the point of acceptance that change is possible.
Acceptance doesn't mean apathy, naïveté, or false hope. It means dropping resistance and being open to what potential may come. It's saying, "Okay, this is the way things are. Now what am I going to do about it, and what might be the silver lining?"
Practicing the Law of Attraction
After reading "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne years ago, the main concept that stuck with me was the idea of focusing my thoughts on what I wanted. I figured that if I just thought about what I wanted over and over, it would magically appear in my life.
Needless to say, it didn't happen. There's a lot more to the law of attraction. Feeling frustrated, I dug deeper.
My analytical mind had a hard time incorporating the other aspects of the law of attraction that were necessary to manifest what I wanted. Feelings. Vibrations. Beliefs. I wasn't sure how, but I knew I had to figure out how to use these components to complete the picture.
What is the Law of Attraction?
At its core, the Law of Attraction is a universal principle that connects awareness to outcome. What we choose to focus on and believe, in turn, becomes our reality.
Perhaps you have heard "like attracts like" or "energy goes where attention flows." These common sayings embody the universal truth, that where we put our attention affects the realities we experience in our everyday lives.
The challenge most of us face is that we aren't aware of our own thought patterns and habits, and how these might contribute to unwanted results. Both the beauty and the challenge of the law of attraction is that it's always in a state of creation.
For better and for worse, you can't turn off your thoughts. The question then becomes: What will you do with them being aware they're always "on"? This is the basis of the saying (and the title of one of Wayne Dyer's books) "Change your thoughts. Change your life."
Alignment with Values
It can be seductive to think that you can use the law of attraction to get what you think you're supposed to want: money, beauty, travel, and the like. For most, this never works because your heart, or True Self, knows better. It knows these wishes are usually the lipstick you're applying to the pig of an unhappy life.
If you want to be happy, the most important thing you can do is identify and live by your core values.
What are the 3 most important things to you in life?
Stop and think about that for a moment.
These are the kinds of things that won't change much over a lifetime. We're not talking about money, careers, the perfect partner or anything outside yourself. We're talking about who you are.
If what comes to mind are people and external things, ask yourself what feelings those people and things bring you. Keep asking, "what does that get you?" until you can't go any deeper.
That's your core value.
Values are things like health, integrity, happiness, freedom, peace, love, connection, commitment, community, gratitude, passion. If you need some inspiration, here's a list of over 200 values.
Once you identify your core values, every future decision you make will be much easier.
If a choice conflicts with or doesn't support your values, it will eventually make you unhappy. Working for a fat paycheck at a company whose culture conflicts with your values won't last very long (been there, done that).
Bringing It All Together
Spend some time journaling about your habitual thoughts. What do you regularly tell yourself? What thoughts constantly spin in your head? How are you making little choices throughout your day, every day, based on these thoughts? How would your choices and actions change if your thoughts and beliefs changed? How would your reality change if your choices changed?
What if you believed that you were enough? What if you asked for what you truly wanted without worrying about what others (or your monkey mind) might think? What if you acted, with confidence, like your True Self? What if you chose with your heart instead of your head or your fears?
There are 3 core elements that make the law of attraction work for you - desire, attention, and permission. More specifically, it follows these steps:
- Identify what you desire in as much detail as possible. Visualize it and feel what it's like to already have it. Make sure it's in alignment with your core values.
- Focus your positive attention on achieving it. Look for opportunities that you can exploit to move yourself closer to your desire, and act on them.
- Give yourself permission to receive it. This is where negative self-talk and limiting beliefs can prevent you from manifesting what you want. Know that you are worthy of receiving what you desire.
While the law of attraction has certainly been sensationalized, it's a timeless principle that can be harnessed to create the life you want. Tap into the power of mindfulness to better understand where you're focusing your energy, and your practice of the law of attraction will bring more of what you truly want into your life.
Today is your day.
This article includes excerpts from Paige Oldham's book, The Mindful Guide to the Law of Attraction Meditations to Manifest Health, Wealth, and Love.