The Magic of Mindfulness
31 October 2016
I sat on the Mindfulness fence for ages. Cautious of following everyone else when it became a ‘thing’. I struggled with meditation and could never stick to such a rigid way of clearing my mind and knew Mindfulness was supposed to be a bit less of that.
My curiosity eventually got the better of me and I decided to give it a go. I found a free course on Future Learn for a bit more guidance and what follows is a little bit of what I learned over the course of 5 weeks.
Our minds have a habit of wandering off. Out of the window, out of the classroom out of the day and back to that thing that happened last week or last year or fast forwarding to a future we’re not quite sure of yet. This can all be a source of anxiety for us and maintaining our focus on the present allows us a chance to calm our minds. Simple as that.
The first thing I learned was that multitasking is the wrong way to go about improving your performance in anything in life. Yikes, doesn’t EVERYONE multitask???
What this actually translated into was what we should actually be doing is switching ALL of our attention from one task to another so all of our focus is now on that one thing. We ideally should complete that first task before moving on as this means you don’t then have to switch back and remember what you were doing before the new thing came in.
Science apparently says that humans are physically incapable of multi tasking and the attempt just makes us stressed. Plus it never actually helps us improve performance or time taken to complete the task as we all think.
Mindfulness is a way of training your mind to stay present and concentrate on the actual task in front of you. This helps prevent getting caught up with loads of other distractions and is how it helps you keep a clear mind.
This also means Turn off your notification pings on your phone and computer. Im sure you do it too. As soon as that notification comes in you automatically go to see what it is and this means you stop what you were concentrating on and loose focus.
So applying this kind of approach to pretty much anything im doing can help my stress levels and my ability to focus on what im actually doing, meaning I’ll potentially get it done faster and better. Great!
Mindfulness is about being present in that moment in time and learning to be self aware enough to recognise how you are feeling at any given moment. If you are stressed you can feel it coming or know its there and do something about it such as go for a walk or a run or just take a deep breath to stop it getting worse and try to calm down.
Don’t get me wrong, a bit of stress can work wonders, especially if you have a deadline coming up or something. Having a little bit of adrenaline pumping can help you to achieve, but feeling stressed the majority of the time could make you ill or just really grumpy.
Being aware of your mood, in particular your stress levels can help prevent stress related illnesses, will reduce anxiety and improve your mood, performance and decision making. Awesome!
Making sure we stay present and focused can have a whole load of other benefits such as making us better listeners and communicators. We respond to the person rather than trying to think of what to say next and you’ll find a good conversation can flow.
It makes us more empathetic, it improves our relationships and makes us more approachable, allows us to better control our moods and mind set and let’s face it – who wants to hand out with a moody murtle?
Being mindful allows us to notice we have stopped paying attention and to gently bring ourselves back to the main focus and carry on without any fuss.
Be Kind to Ourselves
Its called self compassion and means being kinder to yourself instead of being self critical when things go wrong or you don’t get what you wanted for example. Don’t beat yourself up about it or be negative and give up. If you’re able to make this work for you it means you’re also more likely to be kinder to others and that can only be a good thing.
How do I Become more Mindful?
This is the good thing. I think the magic of mindfulness is that it allows for a bit of artistic license and individual interpretation. My theory on how to be more mindful is anything from looking around you as you walk down the road. Pay attention to the things you see and savour the moment, rather than just walking by.
It could be anything that allows you to improve your mood or concentrate on yourself such as taking some time out for you. This could be exercising, sketching or writing a journal, whatever works best for you.
Simply try to be more self aware and concentrate on the present moment as you live it. Try to be grateful for being there in that moment.
There are a few different ways you can use to try to achieve this.
- Every time you criticise someone, try to think of a positive thing about that person.
- Think about what you like about yourself and be grateful for those things.
- Send out good thoughts to the people around you including those you don’t like or get on with.
All of the above will help to train your mind to be more aware, some might be slightly more difficult than others but give it a try and discover the magic of mindfulness.
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