Most of us are still working from home, at least partially. The assumption is this situation is ideal for reflection or mindfulness, but the distractions at home are plentiful—family members, chores, stress and anxiety from worrying about the pandemic, and so on.
Our resource person on leadership and personal development, Luz Mercurio, has some practical tips on how to be more mindful during some everyday, common situations:
1. While driving
When you drive to work early in the morning (for those who need to report to a physical office this quarantine) or a place you routinely go to, your mind at times is set on autopilot mode. Notice how your thoughts wander; over analyzing previous decisions or ruminating on plans that may go awry, feeding you with negative emotions.
Instead of allowing your mind to drift into thought patterns, draw your attention to what you’re doing. Notice how your hand grips the steering wheel. Feel the air from the air conditioner as it touches your face. Better yet, try to open the window and allow the cool morning breeze to enter your car. If you’re driving past trees or shrubs, note their colors, listen as they rustle. If you set off earlier to work, try another route. This will help draw your attention to your journey, with thoughts embracing the here and now.
2. When listening to a presentation
It has become a challenge to tune in nonjudgmentally these days especially when we watch our colleagues or employees present using the virtual platform. We easily get distracted with how he/she appears on screen, we become curious of the items in the background, we sometimes even try to finish the sentence in our heads then allow our mind to race thru the next things we want to do after the presentation – what we want to eat for dinner, what episode we will watch on Netflix or what items we still have to prepare for our next meeting. Do not allow your brain to drift into thought. Pull it back to the here and now.
How do we pay attention to what the presenter is saying? Mindfulness teaches us to re-frame our minds and be more compassionate. We draw our attention to listening with the intent to respond meaningfully. We cannot contribute well to the discussion after the presentation or expand our knowledge if we tune out at some point.
3. Preparing for a meeting with your boss or a client
While preparing for a project you want to be approved by your boss or identifying strategies to help your client make a favorable decision, you may sometimes feel daunted just by imagining his/her reaction on every idea you will present or if you anticipate possible questions that might be thrown on the table.
Mindfulness can help relieve the stress you feel within by allowing yourself to practice deep and gentle breathing. The tension rises higher shortly before the presentation so it will help if you can look for a place where you can have a quiet moment and focus on what you’re feeling. Acknowledge what you feel. Breathe in and clear your mind, slowly breathe out and notice how your heartbeat slows down as you repeat this. Focus your consciousness toward the physical sensations; notice how each part of your body relaxes in the process.
Mindfulness can be part of our daily life. Regular practice makes us appreciate what we have and allows us to be less anxious of what we do not have. Sylvia Boorstein, an American psychotherapist defines it as:
“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.”