You’ve already got the next two tasks in mind before you’ve even finished this one. You’re already thinking about what you need to do tomorrow and the day after. You’re being productive because you’re constantly moving forward, right? Actually, this mind state is bad for productivity, and certainly bad for the end product. It means you rush things, make mistakes and cause yourself unnecessary mental stress, which is bad for your health.
How often do you feel calm and 100% purely focussed on the task you’re doing? And how often is your mind scattered, fragmented into a million and one thoughts of everything else but the task you’re doing?
Like so much of our lives we’re doing stuff but not really fully present in what we’re doing, and it’s not an easy mindset to cultivate considering we’ve been educated as multi-tasking machines that should thrive on being able to do ten things at once. But in truth, to really do something well, to the best of your ability, you need to be in the moment; to be fully present and purposely aware. This is called mindfulness.
Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as follows:
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
Try this mindfulness meditation exercise today
Take 5 minutes out of your schedule today to do nothing. When you feel yourself getting stressed as you notch up more things on your todo list, just stop. Take 5 minutes, leave your work environment, put your pen down, your laptop to one side, put your phone on silent and go into a quiet space.
- Now, sit down comfortably; this can be in the lotus meditation position, on a chair or even lying down, it’s up to you; just get comfortable.
- Now close your eyes.
- First visualise collecting all the pieces of your mind that are scattered in different places. Collect all the pieces from home, from the past, the future, from work projects, loved ones, friends, colleagues; anywhere your thoughts and emotions are, collect them in and centre your mind. Imagine literally bringing everything back to the centre of your mind (head).
- Now begin taking deep breaths. In through your nose and hold for 2-seconds, and release through your mouth.
- Focus solely on the rise and fall of your breath. Follow it as it enters and leaves the body. See it flowing through your being.
- Make no effort to do anything other than watch the breath.
- If you hear any external sounds or other distractions, simply notice them for what they are, and without being inquisitive, let them go and return to the breath.
Do this for 5 minutes, alone, once a day.
What will happen when I do this mindfulness meditation?
It’s an incredibly powerful exercise, and watching the breath is something monks have used for centuries to access a deep meditative state. Your attachment to thoughts, stress, anxiety, and negative emotions will fall away, leaving you feeling refreshed, centered, focused and present. When you return to your work you will be on fire! You won’t believe how that 5-minutes of cultivating purposeful awareness without the intrusion of distracting thoughts and emotions can switch your mind state into that of a zen monk!
Is it easy to “get in the zone”?
I won’t lie, I’ve been doing this a while, and it will take a few attempts to really get in the zone. At first you may easily become distracted by small noises, and of course your thoughts. We’re hard-wired to go, go, go, so when we take a break to do absolutely nothing, it’s like what the? It feels abnormal. To do anything other than keep striving for the next task or goal feels alien. We are a race of “doers”, and those not doing are generally considered lazy. But consider this…
Aside from the time you sleep, when do you ever let your mind rest? Let’s say you sleep 7 hours each night. That means 17 hours a day, 7 days a week of mentally stimulating activity. Trust me, when you sit down and take this 5-minutes you’ll wish you’d done it years ago. It feels totally natural to let the mind just be for a while, without all those crazy thoughts running around. The brain is like a muscle, it needs rest, just like your legs do after a run at the gym. Give your mind a well-deserved rest.
Start Taking 5 Minutes Mindfulness Meditation Today!
All of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone ~ Blaise Pascal
When you begin your mindfulness meditation you’ll totally get what that quote is all about. It’s incredible how emptying the mind carves out a path for clarity and true awareness of the world around you. You’ll experience post-meditation spurts of creativity, too, which in turn will improve your work as you discover newfound inspiration in your unclogged mind . You’ll also be in a calm, assertive frame of mind, which enables better decision making and creates a frame of mind well-suited to social interaction and people management. When you wipe the canvas clean, everything becomes easier, clearer, lighter, happy, more relaxed and more approachable.
The benefits of taking 5-minutes for a mindfulness meditation are huge. And if you’re not doing it you really should be. Best of all it’s free to do, it’s healthy to do, and you can do it anywhere at anytime.
If you struggle to sit still and can’t stop your mind wandering all over the place, then download this 10 minute Deep Meditation sample courtesy of BBM (BinauralBeatsMeditation.com). Put it on your iPod or whatever player you use and listen while you follow the breath.
You should also try this really cool site that asks you to do nothing for 2 minutes except listen the sound of waves. donothingfor2minutes.com
If you want to read more about mindfulness the subject then I recommend this Pocket Mindfulness series on Kindle
Let me know how you feel going back to work afterwards.