Starting with Google and moving on through academic, business and scientific circles everyone is talking about it, and using it. We could easily call it a buzzword, except that the whole idea is to eliminate the buzz of today’s world.
As Judith Woods of The Telegraph explains, “Mindfulness aims to shut out the buzz. It is a brain-training technique that uses your breath to achieve mental clarity.”
Others have described it as “living in the moment or really living.” Psychology Today says, “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”
Why is that so important??
Well from every standpoint, personal to business, using mindfulness as a technique may help boost the bottom line, yours and the company’s. Woods explains, “It isn’t about zoning out. If anything, it’s about zooming in; paying attention to the present and decluttering the brain to make room for creativity.”
Think about what that could mean.
“We live and work in times of constant change. Mindfulness might teach us to focus on the moment instead of being hijacked by thoughts about the past or worries about the future.”
How many times have you functioned on autopilot lately? You may have driven for an hour, gotten out of the car, and not remembered a single detail of the trip.
“Mindfulness uses breathing exercises like meditation and yoga with a different approach. The target is to become more aware of thoughts and feelings, in a non-judgmental way. Instead of being overwhelmed by them, you manage them better.”
Here’s a sample from the Telegraph report of how this actually works. These are notes from a participant who went through a mindfulness session.
“First, we sat around on sofas, listening to the teacher talk us through the principles — how to clear the head boosts creativity and reduces stress. Then came the deep belly-breathing, when we were asked to place our hands on our stomachs and feel the air being drawn right into the body.
We were told to look at our hands, to examine them and admire their function and form, and to filter out any chattering going on inside our heads by immersing ourselves in the simple act of observation. Then we performed some stretches, still paying attention to our breathing, before walking very slowly around the room, feeling our body moving.
It was deceptively simple, but not easy to do; it takes a lot of concentration to stop thinking and planning and projecting forward to the events of the day and focus on the present.
The hour-long session was held by The Vital Touch, a health and well-being business specializing in corporate stress-busting therapies.”
And the result?
The participant said, “Afterwards I felt calm and light. Despite a busy day ahead, it was as though I was in a bubble. I was aware of the various things I had to do but I didn’t feel at all anxious. Since then, I’ve practiced the breathing, and found it highly effective in clearing my head.”
This technique is used by The U.S. military in Marines’ mindfulness training before deployment, in schools to empower children, and as a treatment for depression.
Mark Leonard, the Oxford Centre, talked about its use with depression. “It is remarkable to see someone transformed in five weeks from an unhappy, withdrawn person who feels overburdened to someone who is receptive and upbeat and can experience pleasure in the moment.”
So where will mindfulness work for us?
The ongoing daily spin of people and projects calls for flexibility and emotional intelligence, not a primitive high alert state. And mindfulness just might give us the clarity we all need. As one advocate said, “You have nothing to lose but your stress!”