Mindfulness 101: How to Pay Attention to the Patterns in Your Life

Learn from ‘coincidences’ so that you can grow out of them

The patterns in your life are trying to tell you something. Fabrizio Verrecchia/Unsplash

“Can you believe I just ended another relationship? Why do I keep meeting all these jerks? My last boyfriend was a d—k and let’s not talk about the one before that. Can you believe this keeps happening to me? Annoying coincidence, huh?”

“Let me help you with this,” I say to the new, exasperated 30-something client sitting across from me.

It always excites me when new clients walk through my door because I know they’re about to embrace a whole new understanding of themselves. Their jaws drop when I explain to them what’s actually happening to them and why it’s happening.

“You are here on this planet to learn certain lessons,” I tell them. “And those lessons will show up in every area of your life over and over again until you learn them. Now, the work isn’t to laugh off the ‘coincidence,’ but to apply a degree of mindfulness to the situation. In other words, you want to recognize what’s going on, pay attention to it, learn the lesson from it and get out of it, so you can move forward with your life.” I go on to tell them that with every lesson learned in a life, they move toward a better future.

“You mean, it’s not a coincidence?” they say.

I don’t believe in coincidences. Nothing shows up in your life without a reason. If that isn’t reason to pay attention to your life, I don’t know what is—especially considering that lesson cycles can last decades.

Your goal should always be to get the lesson and get out as quickly as possible. Once you get the lesson, the lesson stops beating you up and life gets better. But the longer it takes for you to grasp these lessons, the harder they get.

But how many of us know that? We’re much better at repeating patterns and mindlessly blaming “coincidence” when patterns repeat themselves. You’re not a victim of what’s happening to you. If it’s happening to you—and especially if it��s happening repeatedly—you need to address it and work through it, not repeat it.

This brings me to my next point: mindfulness.

Our society is obsessed with mindfulness; we spend thousands of dollars each year trying to obtain even just a small piece of it. But you can’t buy or download mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a state of being and it starts with paying attention to your life.

Most of us can’t even remember what we had for dinner last night; how can we ever expect to be mindful enough to catch a life lesson when it shows up in our day-to-day lives?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely pleased that there is a trend toward mindfulness and meditation these days—especially in the workplace—but again, I ask you:

How can we be more mindful in our daily interactions at work if we have no idea how to be mindful in our own lives?

If we can’t be mindful enough to understand why things happen in our own lives, how can we ever apply that degree of centeredness to our workplaces? We can’t.

Mindfulness is a state of being where we’ve learned to pay attention to every detail of our lives and find deeper meaning in them.

My new client was doing just that—she was learning to pay attention to her life and find the meaning in it. She recognized that she was attracting emotionally unavailable men. She just didn’t realize that it was her own pattern of attracting emotionally unavailable men that needed to be healed before she would find a better relationship. She thought it was just a coincidence, but she now understands there was a reason why she was attracting emotionally unavailable men: there was a part of her that wasn’t ready to be in a deeply committed relationship, even though she wanted one. Her fears of commitment kept drawing her to men who also feared being in a committed relationship. Now, she is free to break the pattern by working through her own commitment and trust issues instead of blaming the latest train wreck of a guy.

This is Mindfulness 101. You need to pay attention to your life because it’s always trying to tell you something.

Think about it: when you learn that the answers to all your questions show up every day around you, you might be more inclined to slow down and focus on what’s actually going on around you.

Here are 3 tips to help you to be more mindful in the moment:

  1. Set an intention for guidance. Every morning before you get out of bed, set one intention for guidance. State it to the universe: “I need an answer to… I have to make a decision on… I need better understanding with… please send me the guidance/support/answers I seek and help me to recognize it.” Then as you move through your day, pay close attention to the subtle details—the lyrics to a song on the radio, overhearing a conversation between two people on the subway, a random email, something your boss says in a meeting, or a column you are led to read in the newspaper. The answers you seek will always be given to you. You just have to open your eyes and ears. The answers are always provided, but our ability to hear them isn’t finely tuned because we are generally sleepwalking our way through our life.
  2. Stop sleepwalking your way through your life. There’s nowhere you have to get to. You only have to be where you are, but really be there. Learn to be fiercely present in your body. Feel the ground under your feet when you walk, notice how you feel, and notice how you’re showing up in your morning meeting. Do you like how you just conducted yourself? What would you change? Be deliberate in your speech. Think before you speak and make sure your words are always very positive and constructive. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Notice how people are perceiving you. Are they respecting you? Are they supportive? What in your behavior is contributing to that? Be mindful of all your movements. They will start to help you accept responsibility for your life.
  3. Start accepting responsibility for your life. Instead of getting upset when things don’t go your way, start to recognize that they aren’t going your way for a deliberate reason. Instead of pushing against the discomfort, learn to embrace it and find the deeper learning. Ask yourself, “Why is this happening to me? What could I possibly be meant to be learning here? Have I seen this pattern before? When and how did I handle it back then? Did I learn and get out or did I just repeat it? How can I reframe this ‘bad’ situation so I can see the positive in it and move forward?” When we accept responsibility for our lives, we begin to realize that things are happening for us to learn, not to punish us.

These tips will help you become more mindful in your everyday interactions and will encourage you to reframe the situations in your life so that you learn from them. These practices will change you; I can assure you.

Based in New York City, Donnalynn is the Author of “Life Lessons, Everything You Ever Wished You Had Learned in Kindergarten.” She is also a Certified Intuitive Life Coach, Inspirational Blogger (etherealwellness.wordpress.com), Writer and Speaker. Her work has been featured in Glamour Magazine, the iHeart Radio Network and Princeton Television. Her website is ethereal-wellness.com. You can follower her on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn,  Facebook and Google+.

Mindfulness 101: How to Pay Attention to the Patterns in Your Life