Being more mindful is a growing practice, in more ways than one. Taking the benefits as read, (more peace of mind and wellbeing, greater focus, creativity and better relationships) how could you start being mindful?
Now the thought of beginning a mindfulness practice, like anything new, can be a bit overwhelming (which is kind of funny when you think that mindfulness is supposed to reduce stress and increase focus). However, I have a simple way to start and you don’t need expensive equipment or fancy outfits and there’s no need to sit cross-legged on the floor (luckily for me as I tend to keel over in about 15 seconds when I do).
So here’s my tip for heading down the road to mindfulness.
Start with listening.
As an introvert I have a distinct advantage over some of my more extroverted colleagues.
I’m a great listener, I love to listen to all sorts of people and things. And after years of practice I’ve learnt to listen with more than my sense of hearing.
This means that I often hear things that others don’t. Very handy in business and life. And it helps me live more mindfully.
- Listen to what’s around you. Sit, stand or lie still and listen to the sounds of wherever you are, including the beat of your heart, the sough of your breath, the hum of the light, emails and texts arriving, birdsong, distant traffic, rain on the roof. You’ll be amazed at how noisy your quiet room is and wonder how on earth you filter all that white noise out. It helps to close your eyes to begin, but you can listen just as well with them open.
Start with 60 seconds twice a day and slowly work up from there to 20 minutes twice a day.
- Listen to other people. Don’t be the first one to speak in your next meeting or get together (after the introductions of course). Listen with your whole body and mind when someone is speaking to you, and let them really finish what they want to say before you respond. This is harder than you think (and yes there are those people who will take advantage of this).
The first time you try this type of listening, (and I suggest you try it with a friend first) you begin to realise how in most interactions you only half hear people. The other person gets a few words out then it sparks off thoughts in your mind and then you want to get your words and ideas out too. This means you can miss something beautiful coming from the other person and they miss the opportunity to be heard, really fully heard.
So often conversations these days are frenetic and competitive, rather than calm and receptive. As you start to practice listening, you become more aware, more conscious of your own thoughts and ideas as well as those you’re hearing and, you tend to think before you speak.
The wonderful Holly Ransom (@HollyRansom) tweeted the perfect description the other day, “Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.” It’s remarkable what a difference a 2 second delay (one breath) can make to a conversation and the rest of your day or career or life.
- Listen to your other senses. Some of the less used senses like your gut instinct or your intuition, and your creativity and sense of fun are really worth listening to. As you practice being more mindful, your mind gets the chance to join up some of the dots in all the random pieces of information you’ve crammed in your consciousness. Brilliant ideas start to blossom from this fabulous soup. Couple this with listening to your heart and your intuition and youll find yourself full of designs for a joyful and purposeful life.
- And of course journal. Journal what you hear from yourself and others and how it made you feel. Keep something handy to write or record with at all times of the day (no excuse in this smartphone world), those dreams deserve a life, maybe not today, but soon.
Thanks for reading (and listening)