In our busy modern world where everyone is “trying to have it all” by being a perfect parent, a stellar hardworking employee, a wonderful partner, a Pinterest-worthy party host, a fitness addict with 6-pack abs, and a champion of their side hustle, more and more people are starting to embrace mindfulness and meditation as a way to de-stress.
You may have heard the term mindfulness being thrown around in yoga class but are intimidated by full meditation practice. Mindfulness and meditation can work together but are not mutually exclusive. In Buddhist tradition, mindfulness means ‘moment-to-moment awareness’. It doesn’t need to be difficult and you can add mindfulness to your day without having to commit to a swami-on-a-mountain-top style meditation retreat. Chanting is not required!
Simply start by taking a minute to stop and just breathe. So often we rush through the day without a second thought about ourselves to get things accomplished. Take a moment to pause, take a few deep inhales, and don’t think about your tasks or to do lists. Just breathe. Take a few deep cleansing breaths in and out. Try to do this a few times per day.
Then work on being present. Do you really listen when a colleague is speaking? Really absorb what they say and mull it over in your mind. If asked, could you repeat it back using a series of completely different words? One of our biggest communication issues is that we don’t listen to understand, we listen for our turn to speak. Being aware of what others are saying and how they are saying it, can help you embrace mindfulness. Give people your full attention by putting away your phone and making eye contact.
If you work with clients or people outside of your organization, be mindful about thinking of your client as a person. When working on a client’s content, I like to think about who I’m directing the information to. Rather than professional males age 30 to 50, I like to think of my client as “Steve”. I feel like this allows me to be more mindful about bringing better, more authentic content to them since they are a human being and not just an email address.
When you break throughout the day, why not try to eat mindfully? When taking bites of your food, savour the taste, texture and smell. Be mindful and think about the food itself- where did it come from? Who grew it? Who made your meal? What makes this meal special? Mindful eating can help you get greater enjoyment from your meal and help you slow down during meal times. Shoving a whole croissant into your mouth over the sink - not allowed!
There is a “five senses” exercise that anyone can run through to help regain focus and calm your mind- you need no props or equipment and it can be done anywhere. Start by thinking of five things that you can see at that moment- your desk, the clock on the wall, etc. Then name four things that you can feel- your sweater against your arms, the tweed fabric of your chair, and so on. Then three things that you can hear- the hum of the AC or a bird outside. Two things that you can smell- copier toner or your afternoon tea. Lastly, one thing that you can taste- maybe you just took a sip and the taste of chamomile still lingers in your mouth. And remember to breathe deeply. Do you feel more present and aware now?
We so often run on autopilot that we have to consciously act conscious. It takes practice. There are a number of helpful apps that can guide you through meditation, calming exercises and even yoga stretches. New studies are beginning to show that embracing mindfulness throughout your day and give you a greater sense of creativity, make you feel more productive, and help you sleep better. Namaste!