Mindfulness: It’s a word you may have heard a lot on the websphere, but maybe it’s not clear how it relates to you and your work. So let me show you how to start your mindfulness journey!
Mindfulness is the awareness that occurs through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment.
Mindfulness helps people work more effectively. It helps you:
- function better in high performance environments.
- enhance focus and attention
- increase self-awareness and the awareness of others
- raise levels of resilience and emotional intelligence
- strengthen cognitive effectiveness
This is because mindfulness helps you to:
- listen more attentively
- be more emotionally alert
- communicate more clearly
- direct your thoughts more appropriately
- focus more consistently
- empathise more readily
- renew your energy and attention effectively
“This sounds awesome!” I hear your cry! But what IS mindfulness? And what does it have to do with me and how do I DO mindfulness? Let’s start at the beginning and how we stray away from mindfulness.
Being in the moment is something that’s rare these days. We are pulled in so many directions by work and life, with more stimuli to attend to than ever before. This can cause us to worry about the past (i.e Is that thing I tweeted two years ago going to stop me getting a job?) or in the future (i.e OMG I need to learn React.js, Meteor.js and Ember.js by the end of the year!).
The result is stress, and you remember what I said about stress.
So, getting your mind under control and being able to focus and shut out distractions will make you happier and calmer, and it will help you see things as they are, not as you believe them to be. That is the purpose of mindfulness training.
Mindfulness takes practice: The goal is to train your mind to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment or criticism. In this, you can cut out habitual, negative thought patterns and access expansive inner resources of peace, contentment, and well-being (hooray!).
Mindfulness is a behavior that can be applied to any activity, by bringing awareness to the task. But here are a few activities to get you started
1) Meditation. A simple mindfulness practice is the one-minute meditation. Find a quiet place and focus your attention on your breath: the inhale and exhale of your lungs and the gentle rise and fall of your chest. Gently bring your mind back to your breath each time it wanders. You can set a timer on your phone for 1 minute.
2) Walking mindfulness. As when cultivating all forms of mindfulness, it’s about focusing the attention. So you could concentrate on the sensation of your feet touching the ground or your breathing as you walk to/from work. Or take a gentle walk at lunchtime.
3) Body Scan. Close your eyes and take a few slow, calm breaths. Scan your body from top to toe for any sensations of discomfort or tension. Attempt to soften the sensations of discomfort. Next, scan your body for any sensations of comfort or ease. You can do this alongside your one-minute meditation if you like.
4) Change up your routine. Drive a different way to work or eat something new for breakfast. Change up your routine anytime you can! Whenever something becomes habit, you stop being aware of it or mindful of it: this ability lets us focus on the more important things by relegating the habits to the subconscious. However, we lose a lot of a great life experience when we stop being aware without giving any attention to the present moment.
Maybe pick one activity and try doing it for a week. While these activities are super easy, it can be tricky to commit to doing them each day. So stick with it and create a mindfulness habit!
Here are some other resources if you’d like to know more.