21 Jul 2016, 12:36 — 5 min read
At Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, employees are given 30 minutes every day to practice mindful meditation. Google, the company many consider the world’s best employer, offers workers meditation retreats on a regular basis. And Cambridge University recently introduced a 'Mindfulness Programme' to help students battle stress.
You see, mindfulness matters, and works. But what is mindfulness exactly? If it sounds cumbersome, be assured mindfulness is anything but. As psychologist Marsha Lucas puts it simply, “Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” The Buddhist practice is particularly relevant today when we spend our lives scrambling between tasks like crazed hamsters and fixating on the next selfie to post on our Facebook page.
Mindfulness asks us to cut out the noise, sit still and savor the task at hand – even something as humble as dusting the keyboard of your laptop. When you’re passing a cloth over the keys, focus only on what you are doing now. No wondering about the last email you sent or stopping to check your phone.
Just you, the cloth in your hand, and your keyboard.
The result: a thoroughly cleaned keyboard, for one! Mindfulness dictates that in itself should be enough. But since we are habituated to ask for more, in addition, you will also have conserved energy and grey matter because you didn’t spend those torn between a million different things.
Research shows applying principles of mindfulness to day-to-day living at work and at home improves the quality of your life. Being mindful lowers your stress levels and blood pressure, increases concentration and strikes work-life balance, leading to a more productive, happier you.
The best bit? You don’t have to enroll in a course to learn mindfulness. In India, we have been exposed to the Zen tradition far longer than the West, even if we don’t know it. All we have to do is go back to our roots, inculcate these five simple practices and the pudding will be the proof.
1. Start small
You can start with basic “rote” activities, such as brushing your teeth. Instead of performing such tasks on autopilot, try to bring in more awareness to them. Pay attention to your teeth, the way you move the brush over your gums while brushing, for instance.
2. Start in the morning
Give yourself 10 minutes to sit in a quiet room every morning and let the thoughts flow. It is important you don’t read the paper or check your phone before these 10 minutes. Don’t use this time to consciously “think” about a particular topic. Try simply to be. Experts say this Yogic practice primes you for the day ahead, centering your nervous system.
3. Take walks
Writer J.K. Rowling vouches walking awakens the mind. Walking is a great way to practice mindfulness, but with these important caveats. Walk alone, walk without listening to music or stopping to socialize. This allows you to observe your environment as you navigate it.
4. Productive waiting
Have you noticed how increasingly difficult we find waiting in today’s frenetic world? Come on, you have felt rage build up too when your computer slows down or while stuck in traffic. Guess what, waiting is a good thing for the mind. Successful waiting helps you become a calmer person in general, which is good for your well-being in every way possible. Use wait-time not to play Candy Crush or talk on the phone, but to watch the cars around you, take deep breaths and just be.
5. Set boundaries at work
Not all of us work at Apple or Google. Whether or not your employer gives you time to slow down, you need to create islands of more-aware moments during your work day. The easiest way to do that is to carve out three or four mini-breaks during your routine to focus on your breathing and calm your mind. Secondly, when immersed in a task, say while writing this article, do not check your phone or mail till you are finished.Try not to bring work home. And when you are done at the end of the day, truly let go. Let go of the faux pas you committed, an unpleasant exchange with your co-worker, the report you bombed. It’s ok. That was then. You are ok. Now.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.
Posted byAnjan Purandare
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