Mindfulness, an ancient idea rooted in Buddhism but based on a very simple concept - stop, perceive, feel.
These days, our brains take in so much more than our ancestors' ever did- all the information and adverts
Finding inner peace at work can be tricky...
Thanks to this, more and more people are discovering mindfulness and meditation. The results are apparently amazing in every circle - less stress, a clearer head, better emotional control, reduced anxiety and depression.
But how does mindfulness fit into a world that's so fast and demanding? If you looked up mindfulness and thought "Well, I don't have time for that!" then read on. You don't have to dress in robes and spend two hours on a mountain, chanting; there are a few simple ways that you can incorporate mindfulness into your every life, without compromising your time.
Save your future self from melt-down (and all those stress-related diseases) by taking time out from your thoughts and focusing on the here and now.
1. On the way to work
How do you normally spend your commute? Many of us distract ourselves with books, games or catching up on unfinished work. If you drive, you probably find that you "space out" and don't even notice the route to work, unless something unusual pops up. These are all great ways to tire out your brain before the working day even begins. If you don't drive to work, use your commute to practice mindfulness. Notice everything, look around you and focus on all the sounds and sights (you might want to ignore the smells, up to you...). You might even close your eyes and take five minutes to focus on your breathing. This will give you a boost of energy before you start work! If you're driving, try to pay more attention than usual to the route you're taking.
2. On your lunch break
Instead of grabbing a sandwich and shoving it into your mouth while staring at a screen, allow yourself ten minutes to sit somewhere quiet (ideally outside) and focus on your food. Notice exactly what it looks like, savour every bite, and don't do anything else. Being really conscious of your food can be a beautiful experience (depending on the food, perhaps) and we rarely truly appreciate what we're consuming. This is also a good way to eat less, as being mindful of your food makes you less likely to absent-mindedly stuff your face with snacks.
3. Stop multi-tasking
I already talked here about multi-tasking, and how it isn't actually good for you or your productivity. If you have a lot of things to do, the best thing you can do is to focus on one at a time, and forbid yourself from starting another until one is finished (or at least put away for the day). By paying all your attention to one task, you are being mindful, in a way - giving it the attention it deserves, rather than splitting your attention between several things at once, which is what you really do when you try to multi-task.
4. Listen attentively
So you're in meetings all day - that's no excuse not to try being mindful. It isn't all about focusing on your own breathing - it's about being in the world, here and now, rather than lost in a world of useless thoughts. When you're talking to another person, practice being truly present by really focusing on what they're saying. The best way to do this is to repeat their exact words back to yourself in your head as they're saying them (echoing them, in a way) rather than letting your mind wander to unrelated topics or worrying about what you're going to say next. By listening attentively, more will sink in and you'll feel more connected to that person.
5. Before going to sleep
I'm sure you know that it's important to get a good amount of sleep, but that's not what we're talking about right now. No matter how busy you are, you'll need to go to bed at some point. Busy minds find it hard to fall asleep, and you might be losing precious hours by lying awake, ruminating over the day's problems and worrying about the future. This is the perfect time to practice a bit of mindfulness. Try the "body scanning" technique: starting from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, slowly move your consciousness down your body. This means being very aware of every sensation in the top of your head, then your eyes, slowly moving down your whole body (you can imagine a slow laser scanner). I like to do this when lying in bed, imagining a white light filling my body as I do it.
You might find that your brain tries to distract you from this with random thoughts, but let those thoughts play out in the background rather than "jumping into" them... I usually imagine the thoughts to be on a TV screen that's several meters away from "me", moving further and further away until the thoughts are gone. After a few round of the body scanning technique, I usually find that I fall asleep. Try it, and your sleep quality might improve, too - great for being more productive the next day!
Hopefully these little ways to sneak in mindfulness will help you to remain calm and focused! Let me know if you have any other tips!