Most of us wish to be mindful and present in our day to day life. Between our to-do lists, personal commitments, and professional obligations, we often are electronically connected from dawn till dusk. I regularly speak to people who feel they live in a perpetual time crunch. It’s been said that it’s the little things that make life worth living, and there is no better way to achieve this than by practicing mindfulness.
The Art Of Being Present
We all know at least one person who, every time you are with them, makes you feel as if you have their undivided attention. This is a shining example of the mindful art of being present. How do they do it? They may have as equally full a schedule as the next person, but they have mastered the art of setting all else aside but the present moment.
A good way to be more present is simple – silence your phone and step away from the electronics. If you are face-to-face, eye contact is essential. Take the time to engage first. Sincerely ask how their day is, and really listen. Ask questions about previous conversations. Also, take some time to respectfully observe the person —to notice how they present, what they are wearing, the joy or concern in their tone. This will take practice to achieve, and certainly won’t be 100%, but practice makes perfect.
Stop And Take 10
Meditation and deep breathing exercises can work wonders in terms of mindfulness. A common misconception is that you need to invest a significant amount of time for both, but 10 deep, mindful breaths can be enough to reconnect. Jon Kabat-Zinn of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program developed the STOP model—which can be practiced anytime, anywhere.
- S: Stop whatever you’re doing now.
- T: Take a breath and reconnect to the body.
- O: Observe what’s happening now in your body, what thoughts and feelings you’re having, what sounds you hear around you.
- P: Proceed with what you were doing.
Cultivating mindfulness has become so popular, there are endless options of mindful practices to choose from. Knitting, coloring, mindful eating, or mindful listening are just a few that can be incorporated into daily living. Even, maybe especially, on the busiest of days, we must allow ourselves to be more than our schedule. Ten minutes of listening to meditative music or a soothing guided meditation can work wonders for how we feel going through the rest of the day, particularly on the days we are feeling a bit overwhelmed.
The benefits of mindfulness are many: reduced stress, improved quality of life, increased immunity, a sense of purpose. And please remember that you don’t have to do it perfectly. The point is to make it a consistent part of your life. I hope these ideas will help you get started.
Should you wish to explore the topic of mindfulness further, I’ve included a list of resources below!
Books & Articles
Wherever You Go, There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress… by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment–and Your Life, by Jon Kabat-Zinn
The Mindfulness Revolution, edited by Barry Boyce and Shambhala Sun – Leading Psychologists, Scientists, Artists and Meditation Teachers on the Power of Mindfulness in Daily Life.
Multitasking does not enhance wellbeing and productivity. This article discusses some of the latest research on how it affects the brain, efficiency and performance: http://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2014/10/08/multitasking-damages-your-brain-and-career-new-studies-suggest/
Useful websites and information:
Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society – University of Massachusetts Medical School; http://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/
Pocket Mindfulness; http://www.pocketmindfulness.com/ Great site for those new to mindfulness practices as well as those more advanced.
UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center: http://marc.ucla.edu/
Greater Good – The Science of a Meaningful Life: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/