THE BLOG
09/11/2014 08:36 am ET Updated Nov 11, 2014

3 Steps to Connect to Your Life Purpose

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Unfortunately, it can take a life crisis like a health scare, divorce, or loss of a job to realize that we are not on the right path in our lives. This creates a fork in the road. Do we go back to the same life hoping for a different result, or do we decide to have the courage to create change in our life? And even if we want to create change, where do we start? I turned to self-help books, how about you?

Many of us have spent an enormous amount of time and money on self-help books and attending self-improvement seminars. We have fed into the billion-dollar self-help industry, turning to the experts, gurus, guides: "Here, take my money, and tell me: What do I do now? What is my life purpose?"

In order to connect to our life purpose, we have to do just one thing: breathe.

Are you aware of your breath in this moment? I wasn't aware of my breath, until I couldn't breathe anymore. This is why I wanted to learn how to take mindfulness from the meditation mat into a mindful way of living.

What is mindfulness? It is a term that we often hear today, but what does it mean? Being mindful is simple: breathe. When we connect to our breathing consciously, we connect to the present moment. Only in the present moment are we truly connected to our dreams and desires.

As a neurologist specializing in mind-body medicine, I help clients heal from the ongoing effects of stress through mindful living. Mindful living will help connect you to your life purpose. I am sharing three of these steps with you.

1. Step one is self-compassion.

Self-care is taking just 20 minutes daily to honor our bodies, our minds, and our spirit. Take this time to relax with activities like: listening to uplifting music, taking a walk in nature, soaking in a long bath. It is this simple to calm down the stress response in our bodies that increases when we are in the middle of a life crisis.

Many of us may be programmed to think self-care is not allowed. Self-care is not selfish. How can we give to others authentically when our own gas tank is on empty? Our soul is a vessel, and if we draw from a place of empty, we pass on fear, judgment, or anxiety. Practice self-compassion until the acute shock and grief of a life crisis has subsided.

2. Step two is adopt an attitude of gratitude.

Clinical studies show that an attitude of gratitude that is most strongly correlated with being happy in our lives. Think to yourself: In giving thanks my blessings will multiply. It's funny how our brain work: When we focus on gratitude, we are teaching our brain to look for positive things in our world.

Start a gratitude practice by ending each day looking backwards and thinking of 3-5 things that you are grateful for. As a gratitude practice progresses, we start recognizing the grateful moments not at the end of the day, but as they are happening.

We have now calmed our minds and bodies with self-care and filled our lives with gratitude. It now will feel more peaceful to sit and be still in meditation.

3. Step three is to be still.

Do you think you have a moment in your day to be still? It is as simple as remembering to breathe. Meditation has been shown to change and improve the structure and function of our brains. Meditation is medicine for the mind and healing for the soul. In meditation, we allow stillness of our minds, and this is how we connect to inspiration. Inspiration may take the form of remembering your childhood dreams. Or perhaps it will come as guidance on a new direction to take in your personal life or career.

There is no expert or self-help guru who will give you the answers to your life purpose. The answers you seek are within you. Mindful living will guide you to that place deep within you. When you reach that path of your purpose, you will look back and realize that you are exactly where you are suppose to be right now. Everything that has happened in your life connects, and that you had the answers in your heart all along. All you have to do is breathe.

Watch The Powerful Secret of Your Breath presented at TEDxFargo by Romila "Dr. Romie" Mushtaq, MD.

Romila "Dr. Romie" Mushtaq, MD, ABIHM is a traditionally trained neurologist with expertise in the field of mind-body medicine. Dr. Romie helps clients connect to inner peace despite life's external chaos as a physician, professional speaker and certified life coach with her mindful living program, Mindset Matters.

Dr. Romie writes at www.brainbodybeauty.com, where you can sign up to join her mindful living community and learn more about the medicine behind mindfulness. As a board certified physician in Integrative Medicine, She heals clients at the Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine in Orlando, Florida. You can follow Dr. Romie on Twitter, Facebook and connect with her on LinkedIn.