Are you missing the bigger picture?

Last issue I introduced you to 6 life optimising tips. This month, we’re looking at how you can apply a simple mindfulness technique to improve your personal and professional life, writes Samantha Smith

You’ve probably heard of the benefits of being ‘mindful’, but did you know you can apply it to your day to day tasks, no matter how busy you are?

Mindfulness is a surprisingly simple way of managing life’s chaos; of improving mental clarity and developing control over impulsive emotions or behaviour.

Samantha Smith Samantha Smith

It’s a skill that really sets the stage for self enhancement.

Proven effective in reducing stress, anxiety, pain and depression and becoming popular in the corporate sectors for boosting employee energy, relationships and productivity, modern day ‘mindfulness’ is a 21st century adaption of a 2500-year-old Buddhist practice which refers to the art of “being present in the moment,” but what does this actually mean?

It means that whatever you are doing, whether it be reflecting on a past experience, sorting the laundry or presenting to a group of people, you choose to be completely absorbed and present in that one task.

It sounds simple, but at first your mind is likely to wander. Mindfulness is an art which takes time and perseverance but rewards you in unlimited ways.

A Few Tips

  • Fully focus on your chosen activity as much as you can without over tiring yourself. When your mind wonders, allow yourself to notice what you were thinking about and, without criticising, guide your attention back to the task in hand.
  • You can’t suddenly decide to focus on a task and ‘wham’ it has your full attention. Mindfulness isn’t a snap decision; you have to train your mind like you would train your body at the gym. Remember, you’re doing this to benefit yourself, so don’t be harsh or judgemental when it’s tricky. Be gentle with yourself or you will find it harder.
  • By being fully engaged in a task you are allowing your mind to be creative about experiences, rather than be bored or critical.

I consider mindfulness as ‘mind nutrition’. The mind will always believe what we feed it. Therefore, why not choose to feed it with kindness, curiosity and acknowledgement? Choose to see the bigger picture, without judging our difficulty in remaining present or the emotions our situations bring.

Most of us live in a chaotic society, often working towards our next goal, next day or next week. Many of us only unconsciously experience fleeting moments of mindfulness, before being distracted back into our to-do tasks and personal lives.

If you want to improve your life further, then mindfulness can help. By consciously practicing, you can ripen your wider awareness of each fleeting moment, thought, feeling and reaction.

I could talk endlessly about what it is, but the only way you will truly see its benefit is by trying it out for yourself, so, if you can set aside 5 or 6 minutes here’s a taster gift session for you;

  • Find a comfortable position and start to really notice the colours around you. Spend a moment allowing yourself to rediscover your environment. Notice the tones, shades and depth of objects. Enjoy the miracle of sight that you’re blessed with.
  • Now, gently close your eyes and become aware of the sounds around you. Notice the background noises and the different tones without judging the emotion that the sounds incite in you.
  • Keeping your eyes closed or fixated on a still area in front of you, notice your sense of touch. The sensations in your body; your natural breathing rhythm. Notice where in your body is tense and help it to relax. Start at your toes and work your way up to your head.
  • Next, be aware of scents around you and really notice the ones you may have ignored previously. Then move onto your mouth and any tastes.
  • Finally, allow your focus to gradually shift back to your sense of self, staying aware of this new perspective. Enjoy the feeling of ‘just being’. When you are ready slowly continue as you were.

Remember this exercise can actually be applied to any task you are in and allows you to fully experience the present moment. It also slows down your stress response and gives clarity.

Be curious, open to truths and allow yourself to wonder about how the exercise helped your mind and body. What did you discover about yourself and your environment

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