Today, we hear the term mindfulness everywhere. Eating mindfully, doing sports mindfully, reading mindfully…it sounds like some passing trend that we will all soon forget about.
However, this is much more than some new trend, and it goes way beyond “cool things” to do on the weekend. Living mindfully has become a necessity. Adding mindfulness to our daily lives opens the doorway to a balanced life.
We constantly have to go faster; our obligations multiply everyday and we are always running out of time. This way of life seems normal to us now. We have come to believe that stress is natural; we even think it helps us make progress in our projects and daily tasks.
Do you remember the last time you were totally relaxed while doing something? When you were not thinking about the last conversation you had, planning what you need to do next, or without trying to make a mental list of the groceries you need for tonight’s dinner? If your answer is no, don’t worry–you are far from alone. It’s as if we have forgotten how to live in the present moment. And even if we think that we are “used” to this state of mind, our brains are suffering immensely.
We are under constant pressure everyday, and it has become very difficult to completely release tension from our bodies. Our bodies are tense, our digestive systems are often dysregulated, our minds are overheated. But integrating mindfulness into our lives can help us deal with these issues.
It’s time to come back down to Earth. To be in touch with what is happening right here and now. To relax…at last.
Take time to observe yourself while you are in the middle of a conversation. What’s going on in your mind? Are you completely present, ready to listen to the person in front of you, or are you preparing the answers in your mind before they are even done talking? Are you attentively listening to what they are saying, or are you trying to relate it to your own life and experiences?
It is, of course, natural to try to draw parallels with our own experiences when we want to understand and analyse what someone shares with us. This is how we make sense of other people’s stories. It would be unrealistic to try to communicate with others from a totally blank slate, completely detached from our own past.
But it is possible to find middle ground. A point between being completely absorbed by our own stories and unable to really listen and being totally open minded and hearing what others are saying without relating it to our own history. Mindfulness allows us to reach this middle ground.
Using mindfulness while communicating with others simply means taking the time to be truly present. During a conversation, being truly present means paying attention to the body language of the person who is talking, being open to their emotions, really sharing the moment with them, besides actively listening to their words. To be able to achieve this, we need to learn to put ourselves aside a bit, and give some space to the other person during the exchange.
This mindfulness exercise can be quite difficult for some of us. However, it’s important to try in order to build real relationships based on genuine listening, and, consequently on trust and openness.
Living mindfully is a concept that can be adapted to every aspect of our lives. Cooking and eating mindfully is much simpler (and much more enjoyable) than you might imagine it to be.
Rest assured: you don’t need all the time in the world to be able to cook and eat mindfully. Actually, it won’t take any more time than usual. And yet, you will probably feel like time is slowing down. It’s true! Because when you do the exercises needed to be fully present, you will experience each minute as it actually is: 60 full seconds.
Why do you think that as we get older time seems to go faster and faster? The reason is that the more we go on in life, the more responsibilities we get, the more our minds get filled with things to accomplish, with appointments, and to-do lists to check off. But one thing is for sure: whether we are two or fifty years old, one minute still lasts exactly the same amount of time. So, why not enjoy your meals and live each minute fully by savoring each bite and enjoying the unique aromas of your dish?
Cooking and eating mindfully completely changes our relationship with food. First, we start to really enjoy eating. Secondly, eating more slowly really helps with digestion. Finally, as we just explained, slowing down makes you feel like you are adding minutes to your life. So, are you ready to invite mindfulness into your kitchen? And while you’re at it, why don’t you do the dishes mindfully as well? Believe me: you’ll find this activity, which seemed so boring before, much more enjoyable!
If you found a technique that allowed you to be faster and more efficient at your job would you be interested in trying it? Then look no further: the answer is mindfulness! It’s true, we become much more productive and perform much better when we do each task mindfully.
Did you know that being able to multitask is only a myth? In reality, our brain is incapable of doing more than one task at a time. What makes us think that we are able to multitask is our brain’s ability to quickly switch back and forth between tasks. But we are never truly able to completely focus on two tasks at once.
Rather than being an effective technique, the myth of multitasking actually pushes us to be less effective at everything we do. When we divide our attention between tasks we lose our ability to truly perform and only fragment ourselves.
This is why applying mindfulness techniques at work is such a great idea! When you focus on one task at a time you can truly pay attention to it and be simultaneously faster and more efficient. Plus, there is a good chance that your work will improve as well!
To apply mindfulness to your work I suggest that you start by putting your phone on airplane mode as soon as you start working. Next, define the tasks that you’d like to achieve. Try using an agenda to organize your work day; this way you’ll know exactly what you need to accomplish and in what order. Finally, consider using a timer to divide your work day into blocks of time separated by breaks. Remember that the breaks are just as important as work: without breaks you will be a lot less efficient. By using mindfulness at work as well as during your breaks, you will increase your productivity and you’ll have more time to do things other than work!
It’s your turn now: tell us, do you use mindfulness in your daily life? If you do, what techniques do you use and have you seen a difference? If you don’t, do you think that the techniques mentioned in this article might help in your daily life? Tell us more in the comments section! We look forward to reading your comments!
Translator: Stella Debiaggi