Mindfulness is just for tree-huggers isn’t it?
I’d argue the exact opposite. Mindfulness is something that is lacking so much in modern-day life. It is probably one of the most powerful techniques that anyone can apply if you are self-coaching and want to change your life forever.
Mindfulness chills you out. It helps you reconnect with who you are. It calms the nerves. It avoids stress. It gives you perspective back on life. It stops you living in the past and worrying about the future……..the benefits are enormous.
What is Mindfulness though?
My definition of Mindfulness is as follows:
- Immerse yourself in the present. Be in the moment. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel the warmth of the current temperature on your skin. Breathe deep. Empty the brain of thoughts.
- Try and stop the inner voice from ‘nagging’ at you. This can be harder than you think so try to drop your tongue into the bottom of your mouth. For some people this can help.
- Empty your mind of the past. When you think about things that have happened in the past, ask yourself whether they are helping you move forward in life or not. Take what helps you from the past and park it in the ‘useful cupboard’ of your memory banks. As for the ‘unhelpful past’, stop thinking about those things you ‘hang onto’ that don’t help. It might be how you handled a past deadline, a past argument, a past unresolved issue, a past moment of stress…….anything un-resourceful that you hang onto can prevent you from moving forwards in life.
- Equally don’t think about the future. If you’re in bed, for instance, and worrying about how much work you have to do tomorrow, what can you do about it there and then? Why don’t you just think about it tomorrow morning when you are awake and can do something about it. When you get up, then you’ll crack on with things. It can wait until the morning. If it can’t, ask yourself whether you should be in the office and not in bed. In most cases the answer will be no, so put off your thinking about it until tomorrow morning.
- On the subject of sleep, as this is very often where Mindfulness has most benefit, the principle of counting sheep works. Ok, so it’s a bit of a cliché but whatever works for you will work. Think about something you enjoy. For instance, for me, I love my motorbike. I imagine taking it out for a spin on the Brands Hatch circuit where I can let the throttle really open up – I imagine whizzing around and around the circuit. At other times it might be hitting a golf ball on the sweet spot. I’ll hit it tens of times in my mind before I doze off. Whatever works for you. Find a ‘daydream’ and focus attention on that. Before you know it, you’ll be snoozing.
There are many other techniques you can use but the over-riding principle is that by ‘tuning out’ to your worries and focus on the here-and-now you can calm you mind and body.
How can I get into a Mindful State?
The biggest and easiest technique for this is so easy it almost hurts.
Take a long (6 second) breath in and breathe out for 6 as well. I’ll do a blog specifically about this technique in the future but even in this paragraph, I can change your world. Do this and feel your body and mind relax.
The Urban Trance
Daniel Goleman, in his brilliant book Social Intelligence, talks about the Urban Trance. It’s where we are all so obsessed with our inner-thoughts (especially with the past and the future) that we can easily walk down a street and ‘tune-out’ of all the people and what is going on around us. The Urban Trance can even very often continue into the workplace and often, sadly, for many of us, back home at the end of the day. Have you ever got home and kept thinking about work well into the evening and even into the bedroom?
This is where Mindfulness can really help.
Here’s a great question to ask yourself. One that I often ask clients:
“Do your thoughts control you or do you control your thoughts?”
I’ll leave you with that thought and do, please, watch-out for my future blog on Breathing Techniques. To whet your appetite, I told a coaching client about it in their 2nd session with me and by session 3 it had completely transformed his life…….