Mindfulness. It’s a buzz word right now.
Businesses are more conscious of the bottom line results of being more mindful and teaching their people to do so. CEOs are being coached to be more mindful to improve their leadership skills. Students are being taught to be more mindful to perform better in tests – everyone is jumping on the mindfulness bandwagon!
Because our lifestyles encourage us to be mind-less! We are finding it harder to focus for any length of time; we multitask a lot of the time; watching lots of television shortens our attention span and we talk more via text than person to person! Our social skills revolve more and more around the mobile device! We are on autopilot and don’t even know we are on autopilot! (and research shows that the average person is in autopilot 47% of the time)
And because being mindful can literally change your brain according to Harvard! In fact, they say “Mindfulness should no longer be considered a “nice-to-have” for executives. It’s a “must-have”: a way to keep our brains healthy, to support self-regulation and effective decision-making capabilities, and to protect ourselves from toxic stress.”
And also because being mindful reduces anxiety, stress, depression and reactivity; it increases energy, wellbeing and makes you happier.
So it seems a REALLY good thing to me!
WHAT IS IT?
Mindfulness is a fancy way of saying — BE PRESENT! Stop judging, truly listen, be engaged and be present. In other words, when you are talking to someone, focus on them and what you are saying. When you are listening, be interested and actually listen for the feelings that are wrapped in their words. Avoid thinking about your reply after they have said three words! Avoid being triggered to go to past patterns of thinking, judge and then lose any connection you have in this moment with this person.
I heard someone (sorry I can’t remember who!), it’s a bit like listening to a radio and static cuts in and stops you being able to hear clearly. That static is like the endless stories and judgements going on inside your head that detract from your ability to truly listen to what the other person is saying — right up to the point where they finish speaking. Too many of us listen for the gap in the other person’s conversation so we can jump in with our already planned speech! If you tune into the person and the situation, you can hear clearly on all levels.
When you are really present to anything that you are doing – you are more likely to be in flow; to be creative; to innovate; to stay calm; to reduce the stress response. Many studies have shown how regular meditation (one away to become more mindful) makes huge changes to many aspects of our brain and body function.
For me, mindfulness is being conscious and constantly aware — of our thoughts, our surroundings, our bodies, our feelings, other people — everything in that moment only!
It’s a way of consciously observing our thoughts and the patterns of thinking that unconsciously rule our lives. Bruce Lipton in his book The Biology of Belief tells us that our conscious mind only operates 1-5% of the time! if we are not mindful, or conscious, the rest of our lives are ruled by our subconscious or unconscious patterns. And then we are on autopilot.
Once we become aware of the myriad of repeated (often negative) thoughts that cycle round and round in our heads, once we observe them, then we have a choice and can change them – or not!
IT’S A CHOICE
Being present is choosing consciously to be present every minute! No matter what you are doing. If it’s eating, talking, listening, learning, playing a game, reading a book, walking in nature – while you are doing an activity, actually be present during it!
Not being present is like arriving home in the car after you have driven for an hour and you have no memory whatsoever of the drive home! Scary thought — but even more scary is how common this scenario is!
SOME WAYS TO BE BETTER AT IT
Wake up! Wake up, pay attention and be aware of everything you are doing and thinking for an hour – and you will see how much of your life is on autopilot or unconscious! See if you can extend that hour into a day and then days!
Make regular meditation a habit — even if it’s 10 minutes a day. it may have a significant impact on your life — at work and at home.
Decide to be fully present when you are speaking or listening to another person.
Focus on what you are doing when you are doing it.
Stop allowing your thoughts to instantly transport you to the past and behave as if you were a frightened 5 year old! Breathe and catch yourself and really look around — notice everything in the moment and see if you really are in danger!
Be open to learning; be flexible in your outlook and remind yourself that what you have learned is just what you have learned — not gospel! And that life changes all the time.
Allow other people to be as they are — they are living their lives based on their beliefs – not yours!
Oh — and ENJOY process which you probably will anyway as research shows that mindfulness is better than anti depressants!