Even though ‘Mindfulness’ sounds more of a buzzword or a fad movement nowadays, I have been practicing it myself and facilitating its experience to others over the last few years and I say – It really works!
What exactly is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is bringing awareness to the present moment. Every Action with Attention changes our reactions to responses in situations.
“Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.” Jon Kabat Zinn, Mindfulness Guru
Simply put, it as a state of mind to pause and be in the Here and Now and acknowledge the moment as it is without preferring one moment over the other.
According to Washington Post, there was a 65% jump in the client number for an online therapy website during the pandemic but only a tiny portion of the pandemic crisis fund was allocated to mental health. Although, many researches have proved a direct correlation between physical and mental health yet mental health is a domain that is largely unattended globally.
Isn’t mindfulness now even more relevant today when attention spans are decreasing by the minute and anxiety levels are increasing by the hour?
Mindfulness Matters – Even in the new age entrepreneurial world!
Company Executives & Entrepreneurs are busier than ever with ‘Work from Home’ becoming a new operating style that is leading to dilution of working hours from the personal hours. The resultant affect is in excessive burnout, increased levels of stress and anxiety, emotional disbalance, fatigue and isolation.
It may not be very pragmatic to tell an entrepreneur to clock in an hour or two for health everyday but short ‘mindful’ breaks in between a chaotic day are more doable.
Wondering why ‘Mindfulness Matters’ for Entrepreneurs?
- It reduces the burnout rate in a day
- Boosts Immunity – Rarely can an entrepreneur afford sick leaves
- Improves endurance to go through different emotional states
- Helps in decluttering of thoughts and tasks
- Enhances Productivity – Pausing in the moment slows down the breathing pattern, improves blood circulation and increases concentration
- Provides opportunities to enjoy the joy in ‘moment to moment’
Often Meditation is understood as a synonym for mindfulness. No, It isn’t! Meditation is just one of the many tools to becoming more mindful in life.
Recently, I had the opportunity to address a group of executives participating in a company’s inhouse ‘accelerator program’. They were doing ‘two to tango’ kind of stuff. Not only were they doing their day jobs at the company but simultaneously they were also competing in the program with their business ideas. Apart from the immense learning and opportunity to excel, they did acknowledge that they were also experiencing lot of fatigue, stress, communication-gaps and burnout.
My focus was on what to offer to them something that was not too overbearing or time consuming and at the same time can bring to them, short term as well as long term body-mind shifts.
I came up with three POCKET-SIZE REMINDERS to Becoming More Mindful or Bringing Oneself into the Present:
- Remember to Mindfully L.A.U.G.H: Laughing Out Loud for a reason or no reason can release the endorphins (happy cells) from the body. Laughing for 10-15 minutes combined with deep breathing is required to bring physiological and biochemical shifts in the body. It helps in better blood circulation in the body and is like mental jogging for the mind. Start with one or two minutes of laughing at least 3-4 times in a week and gradually increase the duration. For eg:
- Laughing when waiting at the traffic signal
- Laughing while pretending to be on a fake mobile call
- Laughing with family and friends
What happens When You Sustain Laughing?
Top 5 Benefits of Sustained Laughing
- Boosts Immunity
- Brings the cortisol level down – Instant Stress Management
- People Who Laugh Together, Work Together – Promotes Relationships
- Sets the Right Brain Thinking – Gives Creative Stimulation
- When one is heartily laughing, nothing else comes to the mind – Mind gets clear of all thoughts!
2. Remember to Mindfully C.A.L.M. Down : A Quick, Calming Body Scan to Check in With Yourself multiple times in a day. The CALM Reminder helps to check into and then relax four big zones of our body (C-Chest, A-Arms, L-Legs, M-Mouth).
Bring your awareness to your chest and torso area. First scan your chest, opening and lifting it, creating enough room for your lungs and belly to fully expand. Bring your awareness to any sensations there. Is your breath shallow and short, or slow and even? Is your heart beating fast or slow? Is there any tightness or tension in your chest?
Allow your breath to expand your chest, releasing any tension there. Lastly, tense all the muscles throughout your chest and torso, hold for a count of three as you notice what tension feels like, then allow your muscles to relax and feel the tension flow away and relaxation flow in with the next few breaths.
Shift your awareness now into your arms, from your shoulders down to your fingers. Lift and drop your shoulders once and let your arms fall to your sides or into your lap. Now scan your awareness upward from your hands through the forearms and upper arms.
Are they shaking or still? Are they tensed partly into fists? If so, just release that tension. Are your hands sweaty or clammy? Scan up your arms to your shoulders, continuing to notice any other sensations.
Lastly, squeeze your fists, tense your arms all the way up to your shoulders and hold for three breaths, feeling the tension, and then just release the physical and emotional tension, and let your arms relax completely. Take three more breaths, enjoying the relaxation you feel in your arms.
On the next breath, direct your attention down to your legs, from your hips down through your toes, allowing your attention and breath to flow through your thighs, calves, and feet. Notice if your legs are communicating anything in this moment, and just allow them to become still if they are.
Then, gently begin to squeeze the muscles in your feet, up through your legs and around your waist, holding that tension for three breaths, noting the sensations, and then release. Take three more breaths as you feel the tension flowing out of your legs.
Lastly, shift your awareness to your mouth and jaw, a place where many of us hold tension and clench our muscles without realizing it. Notice this and any other sensations in your mouth and even the rest of your head and neck. Now clench your mouth and other muscles around it, holding for three breaths and release.
As you let go of the tension, allow your mouth to relax into a small smile to yourself. Take a few more moments to enjoy the sensations of relaxation and smiling.
Remember too that at any point in your busy day you might choose to check in with your body and relax yourself – You can CALM yourself down with this simple acronym.
3. Remember to Mindfully S.H.A.R.E: the more connected we are today, the more disconnected we have become. Sharing is the key! Communicate, brainstorm, share feedback, ask for help, give help, express gratitude, take compliments – just let the circle of ‘Good Relationships’ keep rolling and the essence of good relationships is mindfully sharing.
When is the Right Time to Becoming Mindful?
There is no specific time. At the beginning of the day, during the day, in between meetings, after work, before sleeping, practicing alone or sitting with friends and family and community – whatever time feels right, is the right time! Similarly, duration does not matter too. One can heartily laugh even if it is for a minute or one can do quick body scans multiple times in the day or simply make a phone call anytime to share ideas or concerns with a friend or a colleague or a mentor without the fear of being judged.
Other than these, simple mindfulness habits such as making a to-do list before beginning your day or briefly putting the jobs done in the day when ending your day or giving your undivided attention to atleast one meal or one cup of coffee in the day also restores a sense of equanimity.
“The little things? The Little Moments? They aren’t little?” Jon Kabat Zinn