Mindfulness seems to be a buzzword of the moment. But putting its “zeitgeistness” to one side, what actually is mindfulness and how can it benefit us?
Amongst an array of definitions, the following is perhaps useful:
“Mindfulness is paying attention to and acknowledging thoughts and emotions as they arise and as they dissipate, thereby savouring the present moment and allowing all else to just be.”
Being In The Moment
Mindfulness is about allowing whatever is taking place within us to take place and to accept that this is happening without judgment and without any internal conversation with ourselves about it. Thereby we live in the only moment that has ever existed, the present moment. To practice conscious awareness is another way of articulating this. Mindfulness is naturally a composite of practices such as meditation, yoga and the martial arts where an inner focus on the breath is fundamental. Thoughts cannot be controlled directly so there’s no point in trying. Equally all thought and emotion is valid and allowable because you are experiencing them.
How To Practice Mindfulness…
So, how does one do it? A simple way to begin is to take 10 minutes first thing in the morning to meditate. Avoid the phone, email, TV, newspaper etc for just a little while. Sit in a comfortable position on the floor, ensure you have quiet around you, place your gaze on a point about one foot in front of you on the floor, smile a little smile and breathe. Now close your eyes and focus on your breathing, allowing all other thoughts, whatever they may be, to come and go like traffic at a roundabout. After a few minutes focus on every sound you can hear around you – breathing, other sounds in the room, the house and then exterior sounds like traffic, passing airplanes etc. Allow your ears to hear these sounds and then let them pass. After 10 minutes, very gradually open your eyes and then slowly get up and begin your day. Congratulations, you’ve just consciously spent very high quality time with yourself and this will act as an anchor throughout your day.
If possible, build a small 5 minute window to do the same as above to help reconnect with that inner peace – especially useful when undergoing stressful times. Many theatre directors will begin a run through in rehearsals with a minute or two of absolute silence before beginning the run, to calm group anxiety. Simple and effective, it seems that often all we have to do is to get out of our own way.
To put in harder leadership terms, conscious awareness or mindfulness refreshes our thought cycle leading to creative thinking and better decision making. We are more prone to listen well to others and practice active listening.
The Benefits of Mindfulness…
1. Enhances productivity, creativity and innovation
2. Fosters a culture of meaningful communication
3. Reduces tension within individuals and within relationships
4. Nurtures the increasingly vital skills of flexibility, adaptability and improvisation
5. Enables us to better manage challenges, pressure and stress
Ask yourself, just how mindful are you? How mindful could you be? Now, are you ready to make the adjustments to gain the benefits?
Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.
Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication