I spent all my preteen and teen years, along with a good chunk of my young adult years, drunk or high with my thoughts floating around everywhere and nowhere at once.

My addictions and their side effects left me with no real relationships, a shaky relationship with my family, crippling depression and anxiety, and a path going nowhere. I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted, what I was doing, life was just a blur of ups and downs and I wasn’t proud of it.

It wasn’t until I spent some quality time in the bucket that I realized how much I needed to make some serious changes in my life. When I got out, I went into rehab and tried all the traditional stuff; I did the 12 steps, went to the meetings, got a job, even got some semblance of structure in my life. But it wasn’t long before the depression and anxiety came back which also brought back the drugs and alcohol until I found myself back in rehab.

This time I made up my mind that I was going to make it last. I tried a lot of unconventional things and eventually found my way to mindful meditation. That was the moment that changed it all for me. It wasn’t something that happened instantaneously or overnight, but it was like a weight was slowly lifting off of me.

During one of my therapy sessions, I was trying to learn how to forgive myself completely for both past and possible future mistakes. It was something that I had struggled with throughout my life. I had a lot of guilt for what I put everyone else through and for not doing more with my life. When my therapist suggested mindful meditation, I was pretty much up for anything that could help me work through everything that was going through my head.

We did it together that day. It was raining outside but there were patches of sunlight shining through the dark clouds. We focused on them. We silently observed and experienced every sound, smell, sight, and feeling. For the first time in a long time my mind sort of became simultaneously still and more alive. I was completely in the moment and it was an incredibly liberating feeling.

Now you may be asking yourself, what is mindful meditation exactly? Well, mindfulness is basically being aware of whatever you are experiencing while you experience it. It’s something that comes naturally but that we don’t do often enough. In our fast-paced lives, we are constantly multitasking, thinking of a million things while doing other things, we rarely take time to just be.

Now mindful meditation is something I make sure I do at least 3 to 4 times a week with each session lasting from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how much I need it. Since I started this my life has transcended to new heights. Here are 5 ways mindful meditation enhanced my lifestyle.

1. Handle emotions better

Before mindfulness became such a big part of my life, I was either strangely numb or illogically passionate and there really was no in between. I had really high highs, really low lows and it almost always felt like I had no real control over the things that I felt or, more importantly, the way I reacted to them.

Now, even if something does catch me off guard, I’m able to step away from it and center myself before I do or say anything I might regret.

2. Focus easily

Practicing mindfulness so often and so continuously made it something that I could easily do subconsciously on a daily basis. This helped me be more efficient at home and at work, be more present during conversations and important yet easy to miss milestones. I had no idea how much my lifestyle was lacking just because I wasn’t paying enough attention.

3. Self-knowledge and forgiveness

During various mindful meditations, I discovered that I could see myself in a more objective way. I wasn’t defensive, or guilt shaming, but simply observing myself and my life as a complete stranger might. I was able to empathize with myself while also realizing my errors in a more non-judgemental way.

4. Good night’s sleep

This was a result of the first three things I mentioned as well as a feeling a fulfillment I had never experienced before. I wasn’t stressed anymore, I wasn’t struggling with depression, my anxiety had decreased significantly, my thoughts weren’t flying in a million different directions when my head hit the pillow, and I just felt a strong sense of relaxation at the end of the day.

5. More wholesome, genuine and mutual relationships

Due to the fact that I am feeling much better about myself, I am able to invest more in my relationships. The empathy and compassion I had found for myself were also extended to other people. I am able to focus on other people’s needs and interest, and I am able to emotionally participate without feeling overwhelmed.

Mindful meditation has changed my life in ways I didn’t know it even had to change and I feel all the better for it. I’ve been sober for just about a decade and I can honestly say that I owe a good chunk of it to my newfound mindfulness.

Even if you aren’t an addict or feel that your life needs much improvement, I can pretty much guarantee to be a little more mindful every day will make your life that much better. Don’t knock it till you try it! And let us know how it goes leaving a comment below!

By Ruby