If you think you can’t be successful without being stressed out, overwhelmed and overscheduled, then slow down and learn about mindfulness. You’ve probably heard about the benefits of meditation, and maybe you’ve even tried it, but sitting still in silence for 15 minutes just stressed you out even more.
Mindfulness is your doorway to meditation.
Actually, ‘mindfulness’ is really the goal of meditation. Buddhists spend years meditating to reach a state of mindfulness. All the benefits of meditation are because of this mindfulness. Yet now, research is showing that you can start practicing this mindfulness without sitting in silence or chanting. You can practice mindfulness throughout the day, while you’re in a business meeting or grocery shopping.
So what IS mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply being present in the moment without judgement. It’s paying attention to what’s in front of you, NOW instead of thinking about past or future events.
Professor Mark Williams, the director of mindfulness at the School of Psychology at Oxford University described it this way:
Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself. When unhappiness or stress hover overhead, rather than taking it all personally, you learn to treat them as if they were black clouds in the sky, and to observe them with friendly curiosity as they drift past. In essence, mindfulness allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they tip you into a downward spiral. It begins the process of putting you back in control of your life.
ᔥThe UK’s Leading Expert In Mindfulness Explains How It Can Make You Happier – Huffington Post UK
4 ways to practice mindfulness for beginners
Here’s the really cool thing about mindfulness: Daniel Stern defines the present moment as lasting only 3-5 seconds. So you really only have to bring yourself back to the NOW for little snippets throughout the day.
You can start informally practicing mindfulness right away. Here’s 4 ways:
While you’re brushing your teeth, pay attention to how it feels and tastes, to the movement of your hand. Be curious about it as if you’re doing it for the first time.
Eating a meal is the perfect time to practice mindfulness, and there could be side-benefits if you want to lose weight or eat healthier foods. Harvard Medical School describes mindful eating as:
Applied to eating, mindfulness includes noticing the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food; chewing slowly; getting rid of distractions like TV or reading.
Or practice mindfulness when you’re shopping by being fully present and aware of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Don’t just shop as retail therapy; instead become the observer and be curious about why you are buying something.
You are shopping for new clothes online and choose all of your favorites. Before making any payments, you consider what you really need, and consult your bank account before making any purchases. How might the clothes feel differently when you wear them?
ᔥMindfulness: An Adventure in Transformation – Huffington Post
Practice mindfulness at work by being fully present in the task you need to do without thinking about all the other things you need to do or how much you don’t want to be doing this. Dr. Stephen McKenzie, Mindfulness at Work, suggests this exercise:
Think of a work task that you have been avoiding or think you don’t like, and do it with your complete attention. It will help if you can see it as if for the first time, without any ideas about what it involves, or whether you like it, or how important it is. Just do it, with your complete attention and acceptance.
Feel the working surface. If the work involves typing something on your computer then fully feel the keys. If the work involves meeting with someone then fully listen to what they are saying and to what you are saying. When we are fully connected to what we are doing, we are flowing with it, not dammed by it.
ᔥHow being mindful makes for a happier workplace – The Australian Financial Review
Benefits of Mindfulness
There is so much research emerging now about the benefits of mindfulness in all aspects of our lives. In short, being in the present moment will help you be more productive and worry less about the past and future.
Mindfulness helps you reconnect with yourself, which can be hard to do with our fast-paced lifestyles. And it only takes 3-5 seconds to get started.