31 Dec Bringing Mindfulness to Life in 2016
I am often asked by Clients, ‘how can I bring more Mindfulness into my every day life?’ Whilst the formal practice of Mindful Meditations is the most effective way of cultivating self awareness and all the other benefits associated with Mindfulness, it is important that as teachers of Mindfulness we are able to help people incorporate Mindfulness into their everyday life in meaningful ways. Not only will this speed up the process of becoming more mindful, it will demonstrate the value of mindfulness in every day situations. During 2016 I will be sharing with you many tips on becoming more mindful at work and in life generally and today I wanted to share with you 3 of my favourite everyday mindfulness practices that can be done at home and at work without sitting down to formal practice.
- The Powerful Pause: this is a great one to use at work to help you get perspective, reduce stress, stop, notice the swirling of your mind, renew your mental energy and purposefully pay attention. Wherever you are at work, sitting at your desk or in a meeting room you only need 2 minutes for this energy boosting nerve calming practice. Start by bringing awareness to your whole body. Are there any physical or emotional sensations that you notice? Whatever you come across, don’t try to change it, all you are doing is paying attention to what is there. Now starts from the soles of your feet, working your way up your legs, as you go all the time paying attention to that area of the body and noticing what is there. Maybe you feel heat or cold in the body. Maybe you are aware of physical tension. Work your way up all of the body until you reach the top of the head. For the final few moments of the practice just notice the breath. To end the practice bring your awareness back to the room and sit still for a few moments longer. When we stop in this way during the day, not only do we create a pause in the business of the day, it also allows us the opportunity to notice how we are feeling and to notice the quality of the mind. Only when we are able to notice our emotions, our feelings and our recurrent thought patterns and reactions are we able to respond more skillfully to life.
- Mindful Coffee (or Tea) Break: how often do you stop to notice what you are drinking when you have a cup of tea or coffee at work? If we are honest with ourselves the answer to this questions is likely to be, not often. More importantly, do you notice how many tea or coffee breaks you have per day? Do you notice a pattern to how and when you take a caffeine fix? Don’t get me wrong people, I don’t ever plan to give up a good cup of coffee so this isn’t about saying it’s bad to have a cuppa. If however we can bring Mindfulness to the actual process of making the cup of coffee, as well as drinking it and perhaps even noticing any recurring patterns of when we reach for it, we may find we enjoy it much more and perhaps don’t need quite as much of it. As you are making the cup of coffee take time to savour the smell of it as if you have never smelt it before. Notice the colour of it and the heat of the cup as you hold it in your hands before drinking it. Bring awareness to every single sip of coffee that you take, perhaps slow down as you drink it and as you do that just notice all the time the taste, the smell and any other sensations as you drink it. Not only are you creating another ‘pause’ or gap in your day, you are also practicing and building your ability to pay attention to one thing at a time.
- Mindful Listening: when was the last time you gave someone your undivided attention? In our ever changing and increasingly complex lives at work and outside of work, it can be challenging to focus on 1 thing at a time. This is one of the reasons that Mindfulness is becoming so popular as it is incredibly effective at helping us build our ability to pay attention and focus. Overtime it allows us to direct our attention where we want it, when we want it there. Why is this so important? From a work perspective if we aren’t able to fully pay attention we are missing out on important information all the time: whether it be about our business environment, our colleagues and team or the simple fact that if our mind is wandering constantly this creates increased anxiety and hugely detracts from our quality of life. In this particular practice, we focus on giving the person who is talking to us our undivided attention. Instead of thinking about what you are going to say next, try to really hear what they are saying, being present for them fully. People notice the difference when they are really being heard fully and will return this to you in equal measure. If you notice your mind wandering (and it’s likely you will), consciously bring it back and focus on the person in front of you. Mindful listening is a powerful tool to increase the quality of your relationships inside and outside of work.
I hope you found these 3 tips for Mindful living and working useful and I look forward to sharing more of them with you in 2016. Let us know how you get on with them if you try them out. Wishing you a wonderful start to 2016 and a year of happiness and health. Find out more about bringing mindfulness into your life here.