At SIYLI, we talk about mindfulness being the key to a happier life and a more successful career. But with all this talk of a happier life and finally getting the promotion you want, it’s easy to focus on the term mindful without defining what it actually means. Mindfulness can be dismissed as just a way to feel better, but at SIYLI, we know it’s good business. With a little bit of mindful training, your concentration will be stronger, your work more effective and best of all, you’ll spend less time in meetings. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? And all you have to do is breathe.
So this week, let’s talk about what exactly mindfulness is.
Mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” In other words, Mindfulness is a quality of mind that we all experience and enjoy from time to time, when you’re focused on a friend’s story or deeply involved in a hobby you love. Have you ever gotten utterly lost in the world of a book? Or slipped into the zone at work, accomplishing everything on your ‘to do’ list with seemingly superhuman efficiency? Mindfulness is the power of true focus.
The issue then, is how do you apply that same laser-like focus to, say, completing a monthly report or balancing your checkbook? Luckily, mindfulness is something that can be greatly strengthened with practice, and once it becomes sufficiently strong, it leads directly to being calm and clear. Who doesn’t want to be clam and clearly focused?
There is scientific evidence showing that improving our ability to regulate our attention can significantly impact how we respond to emotions. Imagine being able to regulate your emotions both at work and at home. Instead of responding emotionally to stress or disappointment, which could escalate an already negative situation, what if you could respond with calm and focus? You won’t yell at your boss for an unfair evaluation. You’ll ask her how you can best improve and come up with a plan to implement.
The good news is that mindfulness is embarrassingly easy. It is easy because we already know what it’s like, and it’s something we already experience from time to time. Put simply, mindfulness is the mind of just being. All you really need to do is to pay attention moment-to-moment without judging. It is that simple.
Now like any worthwhile tool, Mindfulness requires practice. Don’t worry! You can do it on the couch. The Easy Way to practice mindfulness is to simply bring gentle and consistent attention to your breath for two minutes. That’s it. Start by becoming aware that you are breathing, and then pay attention to the process of breathing. Every time your attention wanders away, just bring it back very gently. The Easier Way is, as its name may subtly suggest, even easier. All you have to do is be without agenda for two minutes. Life really cannot get much simpler than that. After you’ve built up your attention capacities, you’ll be able to apply it at work and at home to experience the best of mindfulness.
SIYLI Suggestion: Take two minutes a day to practice mindfulness. What did you discover after a week?