Our team has been travelling a lot as we close out the year - and each team member uses a different travel routine. Dave usually tries to make the most of travel time by getting work done, but one time he decided to give himself a break. Ten minutes into a movie, Dave realised he had no idea what the movie was about. He was staring at the screen but his mind wasn't processing what exactly was happening!
Maybe you've had a moment like that before - your mind has blanked, or you haven't been able to focus in? What's actually going on when this happens?
Dave asked himself that question and he realised he was carrying a feeling of guilt. Turns out, Dave was travelling on Mother's Day and he was feeling bad for not being home to celebrate with his wife and boys. He was so concerned about not being at home that he couldn't even focus on the movie.
Dave tried to process what he was doing and by questioning the feeling of guilt that he had. NOTE: Dave allowed himself to sit with the feeling of guilt. This helped him to examine what was important about the guilt he was experiencing and to determine that next time he can plan not to be travelling on Mother's Day.
Even after processing and questioning what we're feeling or experiencing, we might still find ourselves distracted. What can we do to refocus our attention?
Suggestions, tips and advice for practising mindfulness:
try mindful listening: play a song and listen to individual parts of the song: focus on the sound of the guitar, then the sound of the drums, then the bass, etc.
if your mind wanders, its OK, just bring your attention back to the mindfulness practice you're using - this actually helps you more because you're working out your brain.
you can use your three senses: take a deep breath, then count five sounds you can hear, then count five things you can feel right now, then count five different things you can see; this helps especially with anxiety.
body scan: work from your toes to the top of your head and focus on the different sensations you feel in each part of your body.
focus on your breathing or your thoughts.
apps for mindfulness: Smiling Mind, Headspace and Calm.
try different things and find the one that works best.
Have you ever crammed for the last 10 minutes before an exam? Try doing mindfulness instead. Even just sitting and breathing will create a more calm and present state, which will help you focus better during your exam.
Benefits of practising mindfulness:
- decreases violence and aggression
- grows the part of your brain that deals with stress and anxiety
- helps you remember and learn more
- helps you feel more compassionate towards yourself and others
- reduces procrastination
- improves overall focus and attention
- increases resilience
It sounds counterproductive, but spending time doing mindfulness actually leads to clearer, more focused activity afterwards.
Challenge of the week: each day this week, try a different form of mindfulness. Create a reminder on your phone that reminds you to do mindfulness each day.
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Now, go out and create a great day.