Mindfulness is the new buzz word for general wellness in life, business, health, and effective leadership. But what is it and what does it mean for you?
Essentially, mindfulness is about being present in the moment; rather than operating on automatic pilot. It’s taking time to regularly stop whatever it is that you are doing and ask yourself, “How am I going right now? Do I require anything?” and being present with your body and it’s needs as well as being present with your environment, and all the people, and everything that is going on in that moment.
Almost everyone is aware of the health risks that ongoing stress creates. Yet it is not the stressors that are necessarily relevant, because often you can’t remove them anyway; it’s how you deal with them that is important for health and wellness. It’s about your state of mind. This is where mindfulness can assist.
When you are not fully present with yourself, with the environment, etc., then stressors impact you more; you are not prepared to deal with them and are more likely to resort to fight or flight. Whereas we are more creative when the brain is relaxed and mindful of everything that is going on. Mindfulness creates clarity to see what actually is here, not what we hoped to be here.
Taking time out to check in with how you are doing and taking steps to look after yourself is not laziness and not making excuses; it is essential for health and wellbeing. Compassion for self makes your thoughts more mindful and triggers nurturing, soothing and comforting of your nervous system. And, particularly important for global wellness, modelling selfcare gives others permission to choose it also. It kind of has a domino effect on everyone around you, creating greater environments for everyone.
Below are my top 3 tips for being more mindful:
Using your breath to centre and calm you. There are many breathing techniques out there. The one I find to be really quick and simple, with astonishingly effective results, is to:
Take three deep breaths and with the first, calm your body, with the second, calm your mind, and with the third, wish someone well; just mentally state each to yourself.
Taking a purposeful pause. Regularly throughout the day, stop a take a moment to be fully present with whatever you are doing. For example, most people clean their teeth on automatic pilot; they are not really present with the task. Break the automatic and intentionally live the experience of what you are doing.
Take notice of what you are doing and be present with it.
Awareness. Again, regularly throughout the day, become aware of every part of your body and ask yourself if there is anything you require at the moment eg a drink, a toilet break, etc. You’ll be surprised at all the things you have been ignoring and just pushing through; particularly when really busy.
If you are sitting, notice your feet on the ground, your bottom on the chair, your back against the chair rest. If you are standing, notice where your body is in space. Take note of the top of your head to the tip of your fingers and toes. Ask your body, “Is there anything you require at the moment?”
It’s a constant commitment to being present and awake, but well worth the effort!