You’ve most likely heard about the many benefits of mindfulness. You’d probably love to try it, and see how it works — see how it can change your life. But, where do you start?
Not to worry, in this article, I’ll help you understand what mindfulness is really about and how it can help you in both your professional and personal life.
Let’s start with the first step. Understanding what mindfulness really is. I think mindfulness can be best described as a guided contemplation (or meditation) that involves leading your mind to focus on the present moment. It is a psychological process where those practicing mindfulness should focus their attention on what is happening within them as well as around them. Perhaps the best way to understand mindfulness is to break the word down into its composing elements. ‘mind’ and ‘full’. To be ‘mindful’ is to intentionally focus your mind on something specific.
Essentially, mindfulness teaches people to recognize and accept their thoughts without being judgemental.
The Benefits of Mindfulness?
If you think this is impossible to achieve, once you start practicing mindfulness, you’ll realize that not only is it possible, but also truly beneficial.
Here are some of the benefits of mindfulness:
- Stress reduction
- Increased focus
- Better sleep
- Improved performance
- Decreased emotional reactivity
- Regulated blood pressure
- Decreased anxiety
- No more struggles with addictions
- Mental health
And the great news is that the evidence regarding the benefits of mindfulness for both patients and providers is accumulating and promising. So, let’s dig a little deeper and find out more about the life-changing results you can achieve through mindful living.
How Can Mindfulness Help Change Your Life?
Mindfulness is a kind of exercise in focus. However, mindfulness works somewhat different than the way we typically think of focus in that the goal is to achieve a state of relaxation, soothing, and calm.
Learning to be mindful can be challenging because we’re not wired to stop thinking in general — let alone when it comes to being mentally engaged with something stressful. Our brains are designed to think.
So how can you stop thinking about something stressful? By engaging in mindfulness. Engaging in the deliberate practice of focusing your attention on just one specific thing, so that your brain wouldn’t start focusing on any other stress factor.
The secret to mindfulness is deciding to do it.
And if you feel like you don’t really want to stop thinking about a stressful situation, because you think you have control over a problem by excessively focusing on it, decide to stop doing that. Why? Because the feeling of control you might experience is likely completely false.
Instead of feeling miserable due to focusing on stressful situations, you can choose to focus on things that create inner peace and balance.
It’s extremely important to develop the awareness of when you are mindful and when you are not. Then, you can practice skills and techniques that will enable you to increase your capacity to be mindful day-by-day. Practicing mindfulness is enjoyable and rewarding. Over time, you should notice your life is enhanced as a result.
Modern-day living affects us all. Most of us are dealing with stress, deadlines, high expectations at work and at home that need to be met — and we think we can handle it all. Sometimes, we might be able to handle everything, but only until our body sends the slow-down signal. What then? Well, this is where mindfulness can have a huge impact. When your body is signaling you to slow down, it is usually wise to listen to it and make a change.
How Should You Practice Mindfulness?
You’ve likely always wanted to gain the ability to remain calm in stressful and challenging situations. However, can that really be achieved through practicing mindfulness? Yes, it can. Here’s how:
Focus on the here and now
Mindfulness begins by making a point to focus on the opportunity, beauty and abundance that exists in each and every moment. This can be called ‘living in the moment’ or ‘being present’. Make a point of taking time to set aside thoughts of past and future events and simply be in the now.
Become deliberately aware
You can practice mindfulness at all times, at any moment in the day. How? Well, consider this: your mind is always with you, so all you need to do is choose to become deliberately aware. Engage your senses. Take note of the sights and sounds and even touch, taste and smell of the moment. Make a point of spending less time sleepwalking through your day, with your focus inches in front of your nose, and instead, truly appreciate your surroundings.
Create a list of things in your life for which you are grateful and happy for. Keep it somewhere where you can see it and read it daily.
Focus on your breath
Breathing has long been used as means of turning our focus inward, and breath control is a key mindfulness technique. When we focus on our breathing, slowing it down and making each breath deep and deliberate, our thoughts slow down as well. Deliberate breathing focuses you on the moment. Indeed, this is one of the single most effective ways to be present, aware, mindful.
Sit and be still
Try to take at least ten minutes each day to just sit and be still. Sit comfortably and simply become aware of your thoughts without any judgment. And relax – inhale and exhale.
Practice mindful listening
When you’re with a family member, friend, a loved one or co-worker, try using your time as an exercise in mindfulness. Practice not just hearing their words, but really listen to what they’re actually saying. In conversations, spend less time thinking about what you are going to say next, and instead, focus on what is being communicated — in words, body language and emotions.
In today’s technology-driven, fast-paced world, with many things happening instantaneously, we often find ourselves wanting to get things done right now. So, next time you are in a situation where you need to make a decision, stop for a moment. Weigh the benefits of making that decision right away or holding off for a while. In time, you’ll notice which approach is more beneficial in your daily life.
Allow yourself to slow down and be fully present for the important, meaningful moments of your life. You’ll be surprised to see that physically slowing down will help you to mentally slow down as well — in a good way. The great benefit of slowing down is that we’ll get more pleasure out of life. So, take some time off to eat a delicious meal, go for a walk and really connect with your family and friends.
When you are at work, take time to connect with a colleague or a customer — don’t just focus on the business part of the relationships. Focus on creating a connection with another person. Remember that success at work is built as much by strong relationships as it is by productivity.
Focus on doing one thing at a time
Focus on doing only one thing at a time — manage each task one-by-one, being fully aware of what you are doing. Why? When mindfully doing a task, it’s less likely that you’ll be rushing through it, and you are less likely to make mistakes or forget details.
We tend to think of multi-tasking as being more productive, when in fact, the opposite is usually true. Science has shown that we only give focus to one thing at a time and that multi-tasking involves shifting that focus back-and-forth. However, each shift takes effort and mental energy that decreases our intellectual ability and productivity in that moment. So, by focusing on one thing at a time, you’ll discover you are more efficient with your tasks, and you won’t feel worn out or stressed.
Take time to do nothing
Take some time each day and do nothing – even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes. You’ll be surprised how pleasant, relaxing and satisfying it can be to just ‘be’ without doing anything.
Mindfulness in Your Workplace
Mindfulness can be just as important in your workplace as it is in your personal life. Here are three quick tips to keep in mind when going through your work day:
Take the First Step
You may find these mindfulness steps challenging at first. However, as the days pass, you should notice you have a deeper sense of clarity, peacefulness and overall well-being.
University, peer-reviewed studies show that people who practice regular mindfulness routines have less mind wandering and distractibility. These people have better concentration, even when multitasking. The business implications are clear — higher productivity and conceptual ability.
And, the best part about mindful meditation is that you can practice it anywhere and anytime. It is an art of controlling your mind. Once you master this art, your life becomes smoother, better and happier.
Achieving true inner peace is not an easy task, however gaining insight and clarity about the path towards it is a huge and important step in the right direction. And mindfulness helps us do just that.
And remember that acceptance is the core value of mindfulness. Being mindful means accepting the present moment just as it is. It also means accepting yourself, just as you are now.
If you are still struggling with acceptance, get in touch with me to learn more about mindfulness and start enjoying its amazing benefits in your daily life.
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