This is the scene that I encountered today and is a perfect segue into mindfulness. As I entered my son’s room I could feel stress beginning to hunch in my shoulders. Quickly I transitioned to sadness and tearful eyes as I realized that this time next year he won’t be living here to leave this clutter. An awareness of my anxiety about the future, some deep breaths and a strong resolve helped me to tune back into the peace of the present moment. I left the future where it belongs.
You can find many resources that define mindfulness; to me it so much about awareness and re-framing. With its roots in Buddhism, mindfulness is an approach. It is paying attention on purpose and being settled in the present. Mindfulness is authentic, intentional engagement. How do you engage in self-care? How do you engage with others? How do you engage with your life’s work?
Mindfulness is not a new approach but seems to be gaining more widespread traction from church sanctuaries to Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit board rooms. Scientists all over the world have been examining the effectiveness of mindfulness in a variety of contexts including the workplace. The benefits of mindfulness are many and include improved physical and mental well-being, an increased capacity for resiliency and an increased ability to manage stress. I recommend the following resources for more insight into benefits of mindfulness and research on mindfulness in the workplace.
I have been a student of mindfulness for over a decade and my teachers have been many. I embrace mindfulness as an antidote to the demands of a 24/7 world that threaten the health of our mind, body, heart and soul. Volumes have been published on the art and science of mindfulness and are available for you to devour. I offer the following as a few of the meaningful lessons I have learned over the years:
“I am grateful for: always this moment, the now. No matter what form it takes.” Eckhart Tolle
The tug and pull of the past and future are hazardous to a mindful existence. In 2008 Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle, author and spiritual teacher, shared with the world a webinar series about his book, A New Earth. That series taught me that when you catch yourself feeling anxious and stressed, blood pressure rising and mind racing- you are often regretting something from your past or worrying about something in the future. An awareness of your thoughts is the first step in regaining the peace of the present moment. The great news is that you can access that archived series at www.oprah.com. Search for SuperSoul Sunday presents A New Earth. I recommend it highly!
“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.” Ayn Rand
Mindfulness is anchored in values. What do you say you value? What would others say you value? How mindful are you as you navigate your thoughts, words and actions throughout each day? I encourage you to start your day centered on what you value. Then live your day with intention as you engage with others and your life’s work. Stay true to your core so that you can lay your head down each night knowing you have lived that day in harmony with your values.
“It’s not only moving that creates new starting points. Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities.” Kristin Armstrong
Mindfulness and its benefits are enhanced when we pause and renew. When we are extremely busy at work and in life, it seems counter-intuitive to take a break. How can I stop? I have too much to do and not enough time. The truth is that your mental energy needs to reboot often. A well-timed, quality break promotes creativity and clarity.
I have worked within the educational and nonprofit realms for 23 years. I know firsthand the demands of a busy work environment. I also know the major benefits of hitting pause and taking intentional mind breaks throughout your day. I encourage you to set a timer to go off every 60-90 minutes. Work during that time with unwavering focus and then take a 10-15 minute break. Get up, move and stretch. Change your scenery.
I recommend that you engage with an auditory mindfulness exercise or a three minute breathing space. You can play this mindfulness exercise directly from this link or download it on iTunes. Explore this three minute breathing space resource for more information and technique.
May you live and work more mindfully. Peace of the present moment to all of you!