Growing up, I remember spending time in my grandads meditation room. The room was bare, yet full of something. Peace, love, energy, awareness… and so much more. In the middle of the room there was a big square pillow where he sat for hours at a time. Leaning against the wall in front of the pillow was a framed picture of his spiritual meditation teacher with candles lined either side of it. He always had a small vase filled with roses from his garden and a CD player. I always loved sitting in the room. At the time I don’t really know what I was doing in there. I guess I was just being a typical curious kid, trying to understand this “weird” activity he was into.
It wasn’t until years later, after he had passed away, that I decided to learn more about Grandad’s world.
I was living in Edinburgh (in 2010) and going through a major life change. So I decided I needed a bit of help and enrolled myself into a meditation course on the Royal Mile. I quickly and effortlessly fell in love with the philosophy, practice and the many benefits I started to feel. This stuff was good (more than good)!
Now, I’m not a meditation queen (a pro like my Grandad) yet, however, I use the philosophy to practice being mindful throughout my day, every day. And I’m proud to say that I’m getting better at holding stillness for longer. Personally, I think the benefit are endless. They include; managing stress and anxiety, improving clarity and focus, managing emotions and encouraging creativity and new ideas. I love that it is time for me and me only and I love that it can be done anywhere, at any moment, for any length of time.
So what mindfulness mean? For me, it is about being present and increasing my awareness to who I am being, not what I am doing. I give myself permission to stop. Not just slow down, but actually stop and reconnect.
For that moment, even if it is for five minutes, I don’t think about my to-do list, my clients, my laundry, my finances, my regrets or my favourite tv show. I completely surrender to stillness and breath.
I’m not saying it is easy. However, I am saying the rewards are endless.
And this is one of the reasons why mindfulness is so hot right now. Businesses are recognising the incredible health and functional benefits for their employees. I teach mindfulness to leaders and their teams because I truly believe meditation produces incredible results, not only for people but also to business’s bottom line.
We’re expected to meet tighter deadlines, juggle more tasks, generate bigger and better ideas, make complex decisions more quickly and manage multiple relationships. No matter who you are, what size family you have or how senior you are, life can often feel stressful.
I’ve seen leaders become better managers and I’ve seen teams increase their productivity because they’re now able to move through problems more effectively.
So, to end, I’ll share with you three simple mindful tricks that can help you feel more clam and controlled in your day.
One: Mindful Breathing
Mindful breathing is not about breathing more heavily, or so slowly that you want to pass out. It is about taking the time to focus on you natural breath. By focusing on your breath, you start to calm the mind.
Sit up right in your chair, relax your shoulders and focus on the natural flow of your breath making sure you are comfortable. If your mind wanders, then don’t worry about it, simply bring it back to your gentle breathing. Sit for as long as it takes for you to be present and feel your body relax and drop.
Two: Check in With Yourself
So often, we’ll move through the day without being aware of how we’re feeling or what we’re doing. Ever driven somewhere and thought to yourself, “how did I get here”? You’ll be surprised how often we do this without realizing, and how much our actions, thoughts, body language affects the way we’re feeling.
So, it’s important that we check in with yourself and notice where we’re holding tension, what we’re focusing on, what thoughts we’re having and how we are communicating to others. Be honest about what you’re noticing about your body, mind and level of energy and enthusiasm. Are you walking too fast and making yourself feel more panicked? Are you focusing on the negatives or something out of your control? Are you telling yourself you’re stressed and that you’ll never get through this to-do list?
Then stop. Give yourself a minute to re-adjust and reset. I explain to my clients that being ‘aware’ is 95 percent of the journey. Once you’re aware, you then have the power to change you’re thoughts, actions or body language to ensure you’re supporting yourself and giving yourself the best chance to be your best self. Remember, please be kind and gentle to yourself.
Three: Create space and build a habit
It’s amazing how many people know how important having quiet time is, but don’t prioritise it. I often suggest to my clients that they should schedule ‘you time’ in, like they do for a doctor’s appointment, a meeting or a dinner with friends. In our forever-busy schedules, it’s important to make time for you, and to be, well, mindful. It doesn’t have to be long. Maybe it is 10 minutes every day when you first get up in the morning, or after your lunch break.
The more you do dedicate time and create a habit, the easier it will be and the more benefit you’ll receive. Go on, do it now. Schedule in some time in your diary now.
If you need assistance stilling the mind, put on a meditation CD or download the headspace app! I’ve got lots of great CD suggestions. Flick me an email, I’ll be more than happy to share my list with you.
Love, MD x