Mindfulness seems to be all abuzz recently, and although it may sound like a catchphrase, what is it really? And how do we get some?
The above photo is my current view from my work desk. I breathe it in at many different times of the day because I know that I might not have it tomorrow. This view, like any glorious view, helps me keep my stress down.
We all have increased stress. There is a baseline of calm that we all have. That baseline has been creeping up higher and higher - the threshold of where situations feel stressful lowered.
Practicing mindfulness techniques all us to return back to our baseline, as we also aim to lower it as well, and find balance – or MomFlow – so we can maintain that space.
Practice. Like everything else we need to have a frequent practice in order to build that mindful, calming muscle.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is self-awareness. Our companies may not be agile enough to build in a mindful process or promote a culture change that endorses it. So, remove all blame from external sources and look within.
How are you feeling right now? Does my request to stop and feel your feelings annoy you? Or does it give you a moment to breathe? Being self-aware means that you can identify that feeling. Describe it: 'I'm happy. Irritated. Agitated. Excited.'
Our vocabulary is so limiting sometimes. Are you pissed off or just annoyed? There is a difference. Change the word and it changes the meaning. It creates a degree of what you're really feeling. This is important because if we can accurately label what we are feeling we can more precisely work to change it. Ultimately we want to get to a position of happiness, joy, content, calm. Changing the label of what we are experiencing help us realize what we need to bring the needle back down under the level of stress and to the baseline of calm.
I recently read that any animal under duress does not breathe through its nose. Nose breathing is for a state of calm. Mouth breathing for adrenaline. They are able to access more oxygen by breathing through the mouth in order to escape a predator. I'm not imagining that you are panting through your day, but if you can stop, recognize your emotions and consciously breathe through your nose for a few deep breaths, you will activate your parasympathetic nervous system and immediately start bringing yourself back down. This is not only good for our stress levels, it affects our digestive track, and our relationships!
There are lots of apps for productivity. Programs that have streamlined projects, time management, calendars etc, yet we haven't found more time in our day.
We must tap into our mind – instead of straining it anymore – to get on top of distractions that are all around us.
Victor Frankl is quoted "Between stimulus and response there is a space"
How do we respond to the distractions/negative comments/traffic/humans around us? What can we do?
Between meetings - pause.
Between comments and conversations - pause.
Don't run into meetings frazzled, projecting your busyness as a badge. Being present means being good to yourself and the people you're with.
Pause in order to absorb and compartmentalize what meeting are coming from, so when you are in a new meeting you can be attentive and involved and therefore more capable of providing input and staying organized and shining!
Pausing when we feel that someone has sideswiped us with a negative comment allows us to respond with conviction rather than emotion. In this pause we can label what we are experiencing! See it all works together! Just like we validate our children's emotions because it makes them feel valued and heard, we should do the same for ourselves!
This is also a good technique to use with staff. For anyone who deals with direct reports, you know managing people is not easy. Validate their experiences. Hear them. Label them together. Once labelled solutions can be more obvious because you know how to deal with a specific emotion and you can find together what is needed to get past it.
Being mindful builds your intuition muscle. We feel it in our body when something is off. We can also read our colleagues better and be more in tune with our children, and partners needs. More importantly our own needs.
Being more in tune allows us to recover faster from mistakes and move forward with our priorities.
But that's another topic of mindfulness - perhaps we talk about that next!