- Are you stuck with not achieving your goals?
- Do you look at the future with a negative outlook?
- Are you disappointed where you are in your life?
- Do you feel agitated throughout the day?
- Are you constantly worrying and stressing?
It can be difficult when life is not going your way. It is even harder when you feel hopeless about the future. It is so satisfying to reach your life goals. Sometimes some of the simplest solutions are the best. The solutions that work are the ones that can be easily added throughout the day. We are all busy, life is hectic and yet we need to practice self-care and make time for ourselves. It’s amazing what a few minutes (as much as you can) to help you on your journey to get unstuck and also achieve your goals and have a positive outlook on life.
One surefire way to get you on your path is to have a positive approach towards life in general and yourself in particular. Now that can be easier said than done. It can be hard to make the time for yourself when you have such a busy life and so much to do in a day; I know I am a “human doing”. I found it hard to make time for myself as a single mom and 7 pets. I also feel the days I include self-care are the days that go much smoother and more optimistic for the next day. It’s worth taking the time.
One of the best and proven ways to do that is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a type of meditation, which has recently been a topic of extensive research. It is something you can perform daily, without spending a penny, and see improvements in all areas of your life. It is so easy to practice and not difficult.
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.”
Mindfulness is the ability to remain present and aware of your circumstances, what you are doing, where you are, without getting overreactive or overwhelmed by whatever is going around you.
It simply means to keep your thoughts focused and remain aware of the moment. Erika Carlson, of Washington University in St. Louis, wrote in a study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science that mindfulness makes us aware of our authentic selves:
“Mindfulness helps us to see our authentic selves in two ways: nonjudgmental observation, and attention. Non-judgmental observation enables people to really get to know themselves without feeling any negative feelings.”
How to Practice Mindfulness?
An important point to note is that mindfulness is innate, but we need to cultivate it using proven techniques. You can perform it while seating, standing, walking, or moving. It is up to you. But, you have to be punctual with it. Practice mindfulness for short pauses and make it a part of your everyday routine.
Wondering what you need to focus on to practice mindfulness? It could be an image, emotion, or a word. Anything can be used to meditate and focus. Sounds simple, right? It isn’t as simple as it appears to be. Your mind will find it difficult to focus on a single thing, at least initially. As you begin to meditate, your mind will stray a lot, and you will need to turn the attention back to the problem at hand.
What does Science say?
A 2012 study showed that our brain’s process of gyrification occurred more in people who meditated regularly. For your information, gyrification occurs when the cerebral cortex folds due to growth and allows the brain to process information faster. Scientists believe that gyrification improves the brain’s performance in processing information, forming memories, making decisions, and improving attention.
Evidence from MRI scans shows that meditation can reinforce brain cells’ connections. In a study published in Neuroreport in 2005, it was identified that meditation is associated with “structural changes in areas of the brain that are important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing. The data further suggest that meditation may impact age-related declines in cortical structure.”
Why Practice Mindfulness?
Meditation and Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism. It can help you find a variety of new solutions to respond to particular situations rather than trying to control them. It isn’t limited to a particular aspect of life because meditation applies to all areas and enables one to deal with all kinds of problems. Being mindful is a fruit of meditation. It helps you improve family ties, academic and professional performance, relationships with friends, interaction with peers, and how we conduct our lives on a day-to-day basis.
Practicing mindfulness eliminates the self-imposed stress that prompts you to get things done. For professionals, it helps in staying focused on the task and boosts their productivity.
It is an ideal self-help tool for accountants as their job requires left-brain thinking and involves linear productivity. Accountants need to get from point A to point B as quickly as they can. Through meditation, they can focus on each moment individually instead of lingering between the past and present. It is a great strategy to deal with work-life pressures and get more clarity and concentration. And, not just the accounting field, in any given scenario or sector, stress and pressure can affect the quality of work and life and prevents one from giving their 100% to the job. Leaders cannot lead to their full potential, and unnecessary risks and lapses take place. Through mindfulness, they can make better decisions both in their personal and professional life.
You cannot meditate without following a particular technique of mindfulness. Don’t worry. You can easily integrate these simple processes into your routine, such as having your morning coffee, sitting at your desk, being stuck in traffic, or an elevator. Take out just 5 minutes from your busy schedule, and dedicate this time entirely to yourself because you deserve it. Check out the techniques that can help you be mindful.
Breathing refers to forming a connection between the body and mind. A major part of medication revolves around this technique. When you feel stressed, your mind starts generating random, stray thoughts, taking a deep breath, exhaling, and then inhaling again. Do it several times. Keep your focus on the breathing as it flows part of your nostrils or lips, reaches the lungs, and warmly goes out. It can be done anywhere and takes a minute or two of your day, but the impacts will last way longer.
Do you always take your meals or sip your coffee with distractions like reading the newspaper, watching television, browsing the net on your smartphone, or checking out social media notifications? Try practicing mindful eating by doing away with all this during lunch or coffee break. Give full attention to your food, focus on its smell, taste, and how different textures are blended. In other words, enjoy your food to the fullest instead of just gulping it down.
What’s Around You?
Go for a walk and try to take notice of your surroundings. Check out the sky, lights, plants, people, animals, and buildings, anything that’s present at the site. Also, try to feel what lies beneath you. It could just be the grass, but pay attention to it. The idea is to stay in the present. You may have to attend an important meeting later in the day, take an online class, prepare for your job interview, or cook dinner, not worry or think about anything. When walking, feel the air on your skin, focus on the sights around you, and appreciate them wholeheartedly.
To perform this technique, you need to be seated with your eyes closed because if you lie down, you may fall asleep. Try to focus on each of your body parts. Close your eyes, draw in a breath and feel it into your lungs, imagine it dispersing all over your body, all the way to your toes and tips of fingers. Or else, start from your toes and focus upward, but very slowly. What it does is that it helps you get clarity of mind and improve your connection with your body.
It is a well-known practice to improve posture, joint flexibility, upper body strength, balance and relieve certain elements such as lower back pain, neck/shoulder pain, wrist pain, sore feet, and poor circulation. It also encourages mindfulness, improves emotional and spiritual health, and shifts awareness away from stressors.
The key message in this blog post is that mindfulness can easily be added to your daily routine. It can take a few seconds to a few minutes. I love to do it while I am working and just look around my office and see what is going on and just notice how the light filters through my window, what sounds do I hear. See my clock flashing in the background. As I practice this; it becomes easier and easier. Sure thoughts will wander in; of course, you might be interrupted, but simply notice them like an observer. Detach from the experience and become the observer. Now as I write this, I can hear the bird outside and one of my dogs barking. I notice my breathing and how deep it is and imagine my breath coming in and out of my heart. It only takes a couple of minutes and does wonders as this daily practice is incorporated in my life… as can be done in yours.
It only takes one moment at a time.
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.”
To download a free 10-minute mindfulness meditation, click the picture below.