It hit me recently that I wasn’t necessarily practicing what I preach when it comes to mindfulness. For someone that is a big believer in the power of taking a few deep breaths or gifting oneself with five minutes of silence for a simple meditation, I was getting away from the practice myself. The busier my coaching business became, the less I was “walking the talk”. I was finding myself rushing through meals, filling every empty minute with smart phone chatter, and jumping headfirst into the next presentation or project.
Dan Harris’s book, 10% Happier heightened my awareness of the power of mindfulness. This well-known national news anchor shared his story about having his first panic attack while on-air (check it out on YouTube) and his subsequent journey to find the path to a calmer existence. As one who had forever been a skeptic about anything “crunchy granola”, Harris’s investigative journalism about religion and spirituality eventually led him to an appreciation of the importance of mindfulness. Much to his surprise, he came to love the benefits of meditation. Harris braved the potential criticism of the mainstream by writing this book with the hope of sharing the power of meditation with the skeptics of the world in a non-threatening, non-“woo woo” way.
The best athletes of the world center themselves before an event. The world’s greatest speakers and performers do the same. Whether it’s through deep breathing, prayer or a formal meditation, many top-performers and achievers find that grounding themselves prepares them to perform at their highest ability. It also calms the “voice in the head”, or what iPEC coaches like me call the “gremlin” or “inner critic”. As Harris points out, “…it creates some space in your head so you can respond rather than react.”
Who can’t benefit from that?
So, what’s your pattern when it comes to mindfulness? One of the best ways to determine where you could use more mindfulness in your life is to look at where it isn’t present. Take a peak at your productivity or your level of calm. Consider how much multitasking you do and how well you do it. Think about your eating patterns, driving habits, or conversation styles. How often are you truly engaged and focused on the task at hand?
If you’re anything like me, you may not be as mindful as you’d like to be. Perhaps you’d like to consider embarking on a mindfulness mission.
My mindfulness mission has started out very simply: dump one mindfulness zapper and add a mindfulness booster. I chose to delete the Facebook app from my iPhone. I added a meditation app to my iPad instead. So, instead of checking Facebook during free minutes here and there (and feeding what I’d consider an unhealthy addiction for me), I now consciously peruse it on my desktop once or twice a day. And with the wonderful addition of the free “Simply Being” app on my iPad, I now treat myself to one, and sometimes two, 5, 10, or 15 minute meditations per day.
My mindfulness mission isn’t magic. It hasn’t fixed everything in my life and left me in a complete state of zen. What it has done, however, is boost my focus, improve my productivity, and contribute to an increasing calmness that I am enjoying. Like Dan Harris, I won’t shoot for 100%, but if mindfulness allows for even a 10% improvement, I’m all for it.
What can you dump and add to contribute to your mindfulness?