When we think of mindfulness, most of us will probably think of sitting on a park bench watching the world go by or laying on the beach while reading a good book. Mindfulness has gotten a lot of attention in recent years and with good reason. There are many benefits to being more mindful such as improving your wellbeing both mentally and physically. Not only is it much better for keeping yourself mentally sane, it also allows you to be more in tune with bodily sensations and better understand your emotions. Mindfulness can in a sense help you become a better version of yourself.
There is no question then that you can reap an abundance of benefits from being more mindful day to day. however as you are probably well aware, that’s often easier said than done.
You have a busy day ahead of you. Maybe you have back to back meetings scheduled all day or it’s crunch time on a massive task you have been putting off for weeks. Either way, a busy day can mean your mind is rushing a million miles an hour. When you feel like things are barely in control, you mental health takes a dive and goes into overdrive, trying to latch onto anything and everything in a desperate attempt to seize control of your attention.
How on earth are you supposed to stay mindful under this kind of stress?
Let’s reframe it. Instead of thinking of a busy, hectic and stress filled day as a challenge holding us back from being more mindful, think of it as the perfect opportunity. This is exactly where you need to be to make the most of mindfulness. Mindfulness almost comes naturally to us when we are relaxed.
Feeling the breeze flowing past as we stroll through the park, listening to dogs bark and children play is great when we are having some down time but what about when we get back into the office? Mindfulness in the more simple moments of our lives is great practice but applying it to our most stressful and chaotic moments, that’s when we need to unlock this superpower more than ever.
The key to mindfulness is to understand that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you have the opportunity to be more mindful.
Mindfulness is centered around bringing your awareness back to the present moment. The beautiful thing to realise is that the present moment exists infinitely. You are never not connected to it. Bringing awareness to this means you can become mindful in any given situation.
Let’s look at a practical example.
You just came home from an extremely busy day at work but it doesn’t end there. You have a mountain of work to still get through and you desperately need some peace and quite. Your partner doesn’t seem to get this. As soon as you sit down to crunch it out, they bombard you with questions, anecdotes about their day and reminders of everything else that needs to get done. You snap back at them, adding even more fuel to the stress fire.
What could have been done differently, how could you have taken a more mindful approach?
There are five techniques which can take you into mindfulness and it is possible to put them into action at any given moment:
1. When you start feeling the pressure and the mind is running a marathon, take a deep breath. Breath in for three seconds and out for another three seconds.
2. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth, concentrating on the movement of the air throughout your body.
3. Let go of all the thoughts that come and go during this time. Let them float over you as you concentrate solely on your breath.
4. Focus on the sensations in your body, where are you feeling the anxiety, worries or stress? Scan your body slowly, does your chest feel tight? Is your heart beating faster?
5. Appreciate the simplicity of your breathing and the effortlessness that occurs each and every second without you even realizing it. Understand that you can do this in any moment, even when you are tackling tasks throughout the day
The next time you are on the phone making a sales call, dealing with an angry client or running late to a meeting, take a deep breath. Take note of the air as it fills your lungs, appreciate every sound in it’s rich complexity and smile at the deeper meaning of every situation you come across in a day. It all exists for you.
Your mind will inevitably want to take control and steer your thoughts in whichever direction you let it get away with. You don’t need to be lead away but instead, watch and observe the ego attempt to make sense of something unexplainable.