It’s hard to pick up any business journal today without seeing something about Mindfulness. Yet many of us have no idea what it is or how to get started. We think we have to find teachers or read journals or take some sort of class. In fact, throughout your journey, you may need to do some of those things, but to get started, I’d recommend the Nike approach – Just Do It!
OK – so if we are to Just Do it – what are we actually doing? Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment – in this moment – right here, right now. You may be thinking – OK – I can do that – I am present in every moment. I’d challenge you to think about the last time that you were doing just one thing at a time. Take a moment and see if you can find that memory of when you were truly doing only one thing, not multitasking, not thinking about the 5 things you need to do later today, not talking with someone and at the same time thinking through what you need to do at your next meeting – just doing one thing. If you are like I was, it’s going to be pretty darn hard to put your finger on the last time you were doing just one thing.
One way to get started is to simply breath all the way in and as you are doing it notice the air coming into your lungs, filling your body with life-giving oxygen. Now breathe out and notice the degree to which you empty your lungs. Do you empty them all the way or just partially before you take that next breathe? In these last few moments, you’ve been mindful. You’ve done one thing and only one thing at a time. You’ve been present. Congratulations!
Now the trick is to do that in everything that you do. Whether it is eating, exercising, sitting in a meeting, talking with a colleague, or sitting at a red light. Funnily enough, I used to tend toward road rage, always wanting people to get out of my way. Didn’t they know that I had places to be? That I was an important person? My, how times have changed. Now I know that the red light I am sitting and waiting for has put me exactly where I need to be at that moment in time and all is well. I breathe in as I sit at the light and grab a moment of peace. I have to tell you that I am happier and calmer these days. I find that I am able to feel more deeply and think more clearly and that has improved my relationships.
Why be mindful in a business setting? I found that by focusing on the one thing that needed my attention at a particular moment in time, that not only was I much more effective, but that everyone around me felt good about the interactions and that helped them be more effective. Imagine a scenario when an employee comes to tell you something. For them, it may be a big deal to be in your office sharing something with you. Meanwhile, you focus about 1/5 of your energy on them and 4/5’s on the next task. They feel this and even though your words may be appropriate, the interaction feels flat and leave with an unsettled feeling. In a mindful interaction, you focus 5/5 of your attention on them and when they leave they feel truly valued and you feel very connected. This is true even when you need to discuss difficult issues.
It is much easier to say that you will be mindful than it is to be mindful. I suggest you have compassion for yourself as you embark on this part of your life journey. Our habits have made mindfulness a fleeting hope and only practice will make mindfulness the core of our existence. Celebrate the little journeys along the way. If you are mindful, even for a moment each day, then you are moving in the right direction.