First of all, let’s start with explaining what mindfulness is. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment experience. It is different from meditation, which is rooted in Buddhism (but found in almost all religious traditions) and has a structured setting.
Essentially, meditation is intentionally setting aside time to do something good for yourself, whereas, mindfulness is simply being aware in everything that you do. Mindfulness can be practiced both inside and outside of formal meditation.
Focusing on the present moment experience can be as simple as focusing on the warmth of the sunshine beating down on your shoulders as you are walking outside (feeling), focusing on the smell of warm and fresh pastries wafting through the air from the bakery nearby (smell), focusing on the intricate shadow that is being cast on the ground a tall tree (sight), focusing on the food you are eating and all of its flavours and textures (taste), focusing on how your body feels like when you are sitting in your chair, if you feel any discomforts, any pain, or if you simply feel comfortable in your chair (sensation in the body), etc.
Mindfulness is a technique used to move our thoughts away from our day-to-day worries and preoccupations and toward an appreciation of the present moment and a larger perspective on life. How you feel at work, and in life in general, will greatly improve.
Below are four reasons to practice mindfulness in your daily life.
- Improves Your Focus
You need 100% focus to complete a task. Yet, all you can think of is everything else. You think of the amount of laundry that needs to be done and suddenly you notice that the mirrors in the house have fingerprints and should be wiped. Also, there is a birthday party your kid is attending next week and you should go buy a present, oh and the camping plans and grocery list needs to be done soon too, and so on… You may even find yourself fidgeting, too. Your brain is being pulled in every which direction. Practicing mindfulness improves your ability to slow down your mind, focus on one thing, and complete one of the many important tasks on your to-do list.
- Lowers Stress
Stress causes a multitude of health problems and illnesses. When we focus on the present moment experience, we slow down and take deeper breaths from the lower part of the belly. Mindfulness and such breathing reduces stress significantly by decreasing cortisol levels (stress hormone). When you are in a stressful moment, before an important meeting or a difficult phone call, for example, try to slow down and be mindful to reduce your stress.
- Reduces Brain Chatter
Our brains are designed to think. The brain thinks, thinks, and thinks… And our brains tend to think about the same thing over and over again by dwelling on the past and future. Sometimes it may feel like you can’t get it to shut up! When you practice mindfulness, you train your brain to focus on something other than your thoughts. Undoubtedly, even when you try to focus on something else, you will return back to the chattering, but the important part is to be aware, and go back to focusing on whatever you were (the sound of the birds singing outside, the food you’re eating, etc.). You may sense a feeling of relief when you bring your mind into the present moment. It’s time to give your brain a little break!
- Gives You a New Perspective (Takes You Out of Yourself)
Mindfulness can give you the power to be objective. Most of our thoughts are self-focused. Mindfulness is the non-judgemental awareness to whatever is happening around you. It helps you be a better listener and understand the relationships in your life, both personal and professional. When you’re not always thinking about yourself, you give yourself the opportunity to develop empathy and the chance to show that you truly care about others. An additional consequence of this is that it makes you feel good about yourself and it improves your confidence, too!
It can feel incredibly refreshing to become aware and enjoy the world around you instead of being preoccupied with your own thoughts and self.
Try practicing mindfulness for a couple minutes every day. It can be done anytime during your day. Perhaps when you are standing in line, sitting at your desk or on a park bench, or lying on your bed. Just try focusing on the present moment experience, whatever it may be. Enjoy the heightened sensations you feel in your body and in your mind.
Bonus: Here is a link to an article about mindfulness that includes an excellent infographic and various meditations to try (2, 4, and 1o minutes long).
Daria Sanchez is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.