What Mindfulness Exercises Do for You
Mindfulness has become almost a buzz-word. But what is it, really? Mindfulness is, quite simply, the skill of being present and aware, moment by moment, regardless of circumstances. Teachers, especially, find it almost impossible to stop running all day long.
If we take on board the practices of Mindfulness, these techniques quite literally train the mind and rewire the brain. And as a result, three critical things happen.
First, your ability to concentrate increases.
Second, you see things with increasing clarity, which improves your judgment.
And third, you develop equanimity. Equanimity enables you to reduce your physiological and emotional stress and enhances the chances that you may find a creative solution.
There is a technique called “micro meditations.” These are meditations that can be done several times a day for 1-3 minutes at a time.
Periodically throughout the day, become aware of your breath. It could be when you feel yourself beginning to become stressed or overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time, or perhaps when you feel yourself becoming increasingly distracted and agitated.
The next step is to start breathing so that you are bringing the breath into the belly. Do not strain. If it feels too unnatural to breathe into the belly, then perhaps bring the breath down to the lower chest. If the mind wanders, gently come back to the breath– without judging yourself for momentarily losing concentration.
Maria Gonzalez, MBA, is Founder and President of Argonauta Consulting Inc. Her most recent book is Mindful Leadership: The 9 Ways to Self-Awareness, Transforming Yourself, and Inspiring Others. She has recently launched the Mindful Leadership App.
You may have heard about a mindfulness-enhancing technique where you sit in stillness and practice meditating for a period of time before going about the rest of your day. In essence, you start living all of life mindfully and over time there is no distinction between your formal practice and making a presentation, negotiating a deal, driving your car, working out, or playing a round of golf.
When in a meeting, try, to the best of your ability, to only listen for seconds at a time. This is harder than it sounds, but with practice you will be able to do listen continuously, without a break in concentration. Whenever you notice that your mind has wandered, come right back to listening to the voice that is speaking. You may have to come back dozens of times in a single meeting. That is extremely common; we don’t actually realize how often the mind wanders. Always bring yourself back gently and with patience. All you are doing is training the mind to be right here, right now.
For instance, if you have ever found yourself in a meeting and suddenly noticed that you missed what was just said or that you were “somewhere else” for the last few minutes, chances are you stopped listening. You could have been thinking about your next meeting or everything on your to do list, or perhaps you just zoned out or were focused on an incoming text message. This is incredibly common. Unfortunately, it is the cause of huge misunderstandings, missed opportunities and wasted time.
In becoming aware of the breath, notice how you are breathing. Is it shallow or deep? Are you holding your breath and in so doing perhaps also holding your stomach? Or hunching your shoulders?
Researchers have found that mindfulness can reprogram the brain to be more rational and less emotional. When faced with a decision, meditators showed increased activity in the posterior insula of the brain, which has been linked to rational decision making. Not only are the two inseparable, but our positive and negative feelings about people, things, and ideas arise much more rapidly than our conscious thoughts, in a matter of milliseconds.
You will notice that by regularly practicing this micro-meditation you will become more aware and more calm. You can create reminders for yourself to practice these meditations two-to-four times a day; every hour or so; or before you go to a meeting– whatever is feasible.
These are meditations that can be done several times a day for 1-3 minutes at a time. You can create reminders for yourself to practice these meditations two-to-four times a day; every hour or so; or before you go to a meeting– whatever is feasible. You may have to come back dozens of times in a single meeting. A second technique I use is “mindfulness in action.” Instead of adding a new routine to your day, you just experience your day a little differently by paying attention in a particular way, for seconds at a time.
Practicing mindfulness– and reaping its benefits– doesn’t need to be a large time commitment or require special training. You can start right now– this moment?
Mindfulness Way to Happiness