Mindfulness is a term that I’ve been noticing everywhere lately, from blog posts and magazine articles to news stories. But what does it mean exactly? Over the last few years, mindfulness and meditation have evolved beyond the bohemian yogi circles to the mainstream, with science-based studies convincing even the top CEOs of corporate America to hop on board (and encourage their employees to do the same).
Mindfulness meditation can be described as the practice of focusing on your breath, and returning your attention back to your breath once you’ve noticed your mind wandering. Seems simple, right? Not so fast. If you’re like me and you’ve tried to meditate before, it can be much harder than it seems! In today’s hyperconnected world, we all have a million thoughts, ideas, worries, and to-dos floating around our brains at any given moment. But I do remember a couple of years ago when I got more into it, during filming of a show in Asia, I would play the Mindfulness App. This app emphasized that everyone has thoughts and noise come into their head when they try to quieten it, and instead of trying to block them, just let them pass through. In other words, you don’t have to be completely calm, or in a quiet space, or without thoughts, to meditate. In fact, I recently read that the supermodel Gisele meditates in front of her children, and sometimes they join in (although if I’m truly honest I can’t imagine how she manages that without things getting pulled off a table or yanked off a bookshelf). However, the mental, physical, and emotional affects of focusing our attention on one thing at a time (like the breath) is proven to have enormous benefits in our lives. Read below about how mindfulness can improve your career and personal life in a few easy steps!
Benefits Of Mindfulness
Reduced stress, depression, and anxiety: Many studies on mindfulness show a significant reduction in difficult feelings and an overall increased sense of calm, even in just a few minutes. This can be incredibly helpful during a stressful work day or difficult time in your life (like a breakup), and is a very healthy way to cope with negative emotions.
Increased focus and awareness: Studies also show that after a few minutes of focusing on your breath, people show more resilience towards interruptions and distractions, especially over time. The benefits of mindfulness seem to grow the longer they are practiced – incredible!
Better control over emotions: Because mindfulness gives us a sense of perspective and an increased awareness of our own mind chatter, it helps us to be less reactive or immersed in negative thoughts. This can help get you out of a bad mood, and even improve your communication with others around you.
Improved memory: Mindfulness has also been shown to improve memory, which can help you with crucial tasks like balancing work projects and to-do’s, or studying for an important exam.
Increased creativity: Because mindfulness helps clear your mind of chatter, it gives way for creative, innovative, or problem-solving thoughts to come up more freely. Many companies (Google, for example), encourage their employees to meditate to improve work performance.
How To Do It:
The great news? Mindfulness doesn’t take an hour of sitting in a dark room every day. It can be done in the form of simple breathing meditations (try this easy 3 minute guided video to start!) – or if meditation isn’t your thing, you can start by focusing your attention on the task at hand. This means that you can practice mindfulness while doing simple tasks like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, or cooking dinner. Try focusing only on what you’re doing in the present, rather than being carried away by any thoughts that come up. Take long, slow, meaningful breaths, and listen to the sound of your own exhale. Your muscles will relax, and your shoulders will drop. Or spend three minutes stretching (everyone has 3 minutes in a day spare – just think how long you spend scrolling on that Insta feed). You can even try easy strategies like scanning your body from the top of your head, down to your toes – relaxing any tension and taking a mental note of any discomfort or sensations you find along the way. These things can be done on breaks at work, while waiting for the bus, in bed before you go to sleep, right when you wake up – or – like I used to do, while breast feeding.
Would you guys like to see me make a video on meditation? Tell me below!