Start by setting aside two 5-15 minute sessions a day to relax or meditate. Find a quiet place to sit, and then choose something to focus your attention on, like your breath. Additionally using a relaxing tape or app will also suffice. As you sit, notice when your mind begins to wander off and each time it does, gently bring your attention back to your breath. Don’t stress about keeping your brain from wandering off. It will. The practice is noticing that the mind has wandered off and bringing it back to the object of attention. The heart beats, the lungs breath, the mind thinks. The objective isn’t to stop thinking it’s to notice when you have. Like herding a child back onto a path of safety, gently, and with compassion guide your attention back to your breathing (feeling of your breath in your nose, chest, or stomach).
2. Slow down and Breathe. You already are … but are you?
Bring awareness to your breath throughout your workday and at home. Even if it’s just for a few moments before responding to an email, answering a call or as you are riding the escalator, sprinkling those pauses in throughout your busy day can give you important mental space. Stop on the street and look at something you don’t normally stop and look at. I recently joined a crowd waiting for an SF cable car. I had no intention of getting on the cable car but standing there with the crowd was fun!
3. Be aware.
Too often, we rush through the day so quickly that we can hardly remember what we ate for lunch, or if we even had lunch. One of my favorite ways bring awareness to my day is to mindfully walk down the sidewalk, purpose fully walking SLOWLY. I focus my attention on the sensations of walking, feeling my feet on the ground and noticing when my mind has wondered off. If I can arrive at each next thing without having “pre-lived” it (freaked out about it in my head), I am more likely to be open to what is truly there in the present moment versus what I think should or hoped would be there.
4. Lead with Awesomeness.
Mindfulness is a cornerstone of leading with Awesomeness. Our responsibility as leaders, much less our responsibility to our own sanity, is to have focus on how to bring clarity to our work, our interactions, and most important in our lives (how we define “success”). But, most of all, our greatest opportunity is to just listen – these practices teach us to listen: to the subtle motions of our bodies, to the raging thoughts in our minds, and meet them with compassion.
5. Mindful Attention to Life vs. A Mind Full of Life
Whether it’s working with colleagues or clients, parenting a child or communicating with your spouse, mindfulness will allow you to set your opinions aside and be open to simply listening. You don’t have to agree, but you do have to listen. That way others with be open to you! (what a concept, eh?).
Personally, I am able to pause (in most moments!), choose to respond in a more skillful way: in traffic, with my clients, with friends, and with myself.
Each day we make decisions that impact our work, ourselves, and our friends, families (chosen and bio), and communities too. The quality of those decisions will be enriched if we are fully open, if we are present, if we give ourselves space to be creative, and if we build our capacity to choose to respond, versus react.
What small thing will you do today to be more mindful?