Just returned from delivering a course on Mindfulness in Business in Luxembourg for a global financial company. It’s interesting how a lot of the time we turn mindfulness meditation into something that’s quite complicated and even esoteric – we think we need to be some sort of “Monk” and/or everything needs to be absolutely perfect before we even start to practice it! In this self created complication we may just be setting ourselves up to believe “mindfulness doesn’t work for me!” Here are 5 often asked questions about mindfulness and some suggested answers:
1. Why Practice Mindfulness? It’s great for your brain, it’s great for your body, it’s great for reducing stress, it’s great for helping you enjoy your life, it’s great for helping heal illnesses, it helps keep you mentally sharp and fit, it improves your communication skills, it improves your leadership skills, it improves your parenting skills, you tune into what’s truly important in your life and it’s simply great to practice. Anything that you use your mind for (which is almost everything) will benefit from practicing mindfulness and there’s lots more reasons too – if you have any, add them to the comments below!
2. What is Mindfulness? Well simply put its about bringing our attention to the present moment without judging it (ref: John Kabat Zinn). In other words be the observer of what’s happening in this moment in a non-judgmental way.
3. How to Practice Mindfulness For one minute gently keep your attention on your breathing – the physical movement as you breath in and as you breath out. If your attention drifts gently bring it back to your breathing.
Ok how did you get on? What did you notice? Did some other thoughts come into your mind? Did you only think about your breathing for one minute? No matter what thoughts arose you had the opportunity to notice them, that is, you had the opportunity to “be mindful” of your thoughts. So it’s not really what you thought about as much as, were you noticing your thoughts. Once you notice them you can gently bring them back to your breathing.
This gentle observation of noticing your thoughts without judgement and gently bringing them back to your breathing is one way to practice of Mindfulness.
4. How to Create a Mindfulness Habit? The best way to put ourselves off mindfulness meditation is to decide – I will practice twice a day for at least 20 minutes each time! We may do this for two days, three days, even with a stretch five days. The pressure of our daily schedule then becomes too much and we drop the practice and rationalise it by saying “I don’t have time for practicing mindfulness” We may even justify it further in the mistaken belief that “the busier I am the more important I am!”
To successfully cultivate the habit of practicing mindfulness we need to make it easy to fit into our life. So start with a goal of practicing everyday for 3 minutes in the morning. That’s it! All of us can find 3 minutes so there’s no excuse not to do it. Also decide that you can do it anywhere, at any time. So practice before breakfast or after breakfast or on the bus or when you park your car or whatever. Find three minutes and “just do it!”.
5. How will you know it’s working? Notice how over time it improves the quality of your day. For example in terms of your enjoyment, your contentment, your mental abilities, your relationships and whatever else.In time extend your practice to 5 minutes, then 7 minutes, then 11 minutes and then whatever duration you want. Some days if you don’t have much time go back and do the 3 minute practice. Worse case do a 1 minute practice. Remember the goal is to create the habit. Once the habit is formed you can work on the duration of practice.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your next mindfulness practice! Sean
Sean M Kelly founder of www.MindTraining.ie is an International Professional and People Development Trainer/ Coach with over twenty five years experience in the training industry. He has created and delivered training to many globally successful businesses and organisations in countries including Ireland, UK, USA, Luxembourg, Italy, Russia, Lithuania, Israel, Poland, the Czech Rep. and South Korea. Sean focuses on providing interactive, experiential and empowering training and coaching which can have an immediate positive impact in the workplace and in your personal life.