Researchers and mental health professionals contest that ancient mindfulness practices – originating in Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist and other traditions – hold great promise.
Mindfulness means being fully aware of what is happening both inside yourself—in your body, heart and mind—and outside yourself in your environment.
It involves the awareness of thoughts, emotions, sensations, and behaviors without judgment or criticism.
It involves focusing your mind on the present, which is known to improve mood, decrease stress and boost immune function.
According to Rohit Bhargava, CEO & Founder, The Non-Obvious Company, mindfulness is the idea of adopting exercises or habits that allow you to be more aware of your surroundings and yourself to improve your performance by gaining more focus, calm and energy.
It is about how to think different, curate ideas and predict the future.
Despite this, you might still be wondering whether mindfulness is really something you can fit into your busy work day filled with urgent demands and deadlines.
Finding ways to be more mindful in the midst of all the other demands on your time can easily seem like an indulgence. Perhaps it is—but it doesn’t have to be one that takes up a lot of excess time.
—Rohit Bhargava, CEO and founder, The Non-Obvious Company
Mindfulness is about getting a new perspective on the things you do by developing daily habits that allow you to combine powerful introspection with a more open mindset.
Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Happiness Hypothesis, uses a metaphor to represent the human mind: an elephant and a rider.
The rider is your reason, ego, human mind and the elephant is your passion, animal side.
The elephant runs the show. Your human mind has about as much control over your passions as you would have control over an elephant.
Change comes from “training your elephant” in productive behaviours that bring happiness.
People do business with people they like, even when it doesn’t make the best rational sense. Being responsive, happy, and aspiring to a shared purpose goes a long way.
To help you to do this and add mindfulness to your daily routine, consider the trend research called Non-Obvious.
Be More Present
Meditation and yoga can seem intimidating to start. There are apps and tools like Headspace and Smiling Mind that can help you start slowly by focusing on your breathing patterns and how to bring more calm to your day.
Recently, American Express OPEN Forum launched The Psychology of Change program, which aims to help entrepreneurs deal with change based on their leadership style. (To discover your own leadership style, you can take the quiz.
Another technique for training yourself (and your colleagues) to be more present is to intentionally take a “resetting” break at the start of a meeting by observing a two-minute long moment of silence. The thought of a 120-second pause may not seem like long, but maintaining two full (timed) minutes of silence can actually feel like an eternity.
The goal is that everyone becomes able to participate in the meeting with less mental distraction and feels more centered to focus on the task at hand.
Some of the most successful people in the world allow their minds to wander and explore their creative side by making art. Their ability to tap into this side of their brain may allow them to be more creative and come up with new concepts that others might not.
One way to do this is to take time during your next long conference call to try “meditative coloring.” The term is a somewhat ceremonious way of describing the sense of calm that people may feel when taking a break simply to put pen to paper. The act of coloring in a coloring book designed for adults can be a separation from the daily stress of their lives and their devices.
No matter what you try, the point is that making art in any form can be a way to relax and clear the mind.
Get Better Sleep
There may be a growing acceptance that sleeping longer is a strategy for success in everything from career focus to weight loss. Given the attention on sleep, it is not surprising that the industry around helping you get better sleep is also growing rapidly.
The global market for sleep aids and technologies is expected to top $84.9 billion worldwide by 2021, according to BCC Research, and a new range of companies are reinventing the process of manufacturing and delivering mattresses—as well as how we think about getting the most from ours. All this innovation is helping remind us about the important connection between sleep, performance and being at our best as leaders, employees and people.
Wondering how to find more time for sleep?
Rather than stressing about how to get to bed sooner, one way is to focus on getting better sleep rather than simply increasing how long you are in bed for. Mindfulness exercises may help you fall asleep sooner, and using sleep tracking apps and technology can help you understand the ratio of deep to light sleep, which may help lead to a better understanding of your sleep patterns.
Finding ways to be more mindful in the midst of all the other demands on your time can help you be more present in the conversations you are having and be more productive by being intentional about how to spend your time and how you save it.