Mindfulness: What, Why & How?
Mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever you are doing in the moment. Being truly aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting tangled in them. This moment to moment presence can be trained in many ways, and a very popular method is meditation, but that doesn’t mean we all have to be Zen masters or seasoned Yogi’s to benefit.
Everyone can benefit from its practice, and everyone has the tools to be able to reap the rewards it has to offer. It is simply a matter of unlocking these benefits by understanding how to recognise and practice mindfulness. And in case you’re thinking “With a packed 9-5 schedule, there’s no way I can fit in a moment of rest, introspection, and meditation!” let me implore you to reconsider. The myriad benefits that come from mindfulness are scientifically proven, and the payout from taking the time will last for years to come.
So, what are the benefits of including mindfulness in your daily routine? Let’s break down some of the possible rewards:
Reduced Stress: Recent studies have shown that mindfulness can reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisone, cutting down on feelings of anxiety and fatigue.
Increased Attention Span: Improved ability to pay attention, focus, and concentrate.
Increased Emotional Intelligence: Improved conflict resolution skills
Increased Empathy and Respect: Increased empathy and understanding of others
Increased Resilience: Increased capacity to overcome challenges
Improved Decision Making: Mindfulness can remove the bias from your brain and help you think more clearly.
Improved Emotion Regulation: Reduced impulsiveness
Improved Physical Well-being and General Health: Increased engagement in physical activity and ability to deal with illness
Facilitation of Recovery: Mindfulness has been proven to help those who have suffered a recent trauma, in some cases accelerating their recovery
Improved Creativity & Collaboration: Improved expression of creative arts as mindful meditation increases divergent and convergent thinking
So how are we to claim these benefits? In a world that is constantly moving, and in daily schedules that fluctuate regularly, how are we to experience the current moment and learn to integrate mindfulness-awareness into the everyday? You don’t actually have to commit to hour-long meditation sessions in order to achieve this. There are more ways that I can list for you to practice mindfulness without interrupting your workflow. Here are some of our favourites to use daily and around the office.
Waking: Keep your eyes closed and take a few deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Listen to your breathing and concentrate on the rise and falling of your chest, becoming aware of your body and muscles as they wake up.
Getting up: As you step out of bed, stand and take a really deep breath, stretch your hands to the ceiling with your fingers pointing upwards, as you exhale, lean forward towards your toes. Make yourself aware of your breathing and how this stretch feels.
Showering: Pay attention to the water on your skin, taking time to really notice the temperature, the pressure and the sound of the water falling.
Making Breakfast: Even if this is only making a cup of tea, give yourself time to think purposefully about every step as you make it.
Conduct a one-minute meditation by closing your eyes and slowly breathing in and out. As with your morning routine, pay attention to your body and try not to think of anything else. If thoughts try to interrupt your meditation, acknowledge them and then dismiss them, refocusing on your breathing.
It’s easy for minds to go on hiatus during conversations. Empty your mind and really focus on what the person talking to you is saying. Don’t think of your impending tasks and deadlines, your evening plans or formulating a response to the conversation – simply try and be in the moment. This can help you understand more and improve relationships with colleagues.
Choose an object from within your immediate environment and focus on watching it for a minute or two. This could be anything from a pencil, or a cup of coffee, to a cloud outside. Pretend you’re seeing it for the first time. Visually explore every aspect, paying attention to its shape, texture, and construction. This can help you clear your mind and reconnect with the everyday objects that surround you.
Many of us try to multi-task, but did you know this is not actually a possible feat? In reality, our brains madly switch from the one task to the other, often losing focus and data in the process and reducing efficiency. People continue to multitask as it makes us feel more productive, yet the reality is the opposite. That said, studies have shown that the more you multitask, the more you become addicted to it. Commit to completing one thing at a time, investing your full attention and energy into it instead of committing half-heartedly to numerous things simultaneously. You will end up being more productive.
Stay in the moment:
Connect and ground yourself to the moment by finding a focal point for a moment of mindfulness. This could be anything from the ground beneath your feet, the chair beneath your body, or something you are using. Think about how it feels against your skin, how it works and what you’re using it for. Thank yourself for taking this short time to be really grounded and really appreciate your environment.
Take a break:
We all know we should be doing this anyway, but how often do we actually pay attention to the needs of our body to just slow down? Taking a break by leaving behind electronic devices, or even taking a stroll through a nearby natural area, is a healthy exercise for your body and mind.
It’s incredible the impacts altering your mindset in simple ways can have on your life, at home, and in the workplace. Investigate mindfulness activities more and find your own routine to fall into.
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