Admittedly, I’m not the most mindful person.
I’ve earned the nickname “Fairy” for having my head in the clouds and being a little light on my feet (half present) at times. This lightness, if you will, leads to clumsiness. I spill things often, have nearly hit posts while driving and experience a wandering mind during mundane tasks. But like anything, mindfulness is a practice. One that I’ve dedicated myself to because I see the difference in my life when I focus on one thing at a time, show up with presence, and listen with full intensity to others.
Selina Rose is a holistic nutritionist, writer, non-granola yogi, and coach dedicated to helping you find sustainability in your health so you can play full-out in life (whatever that looks like for you). For a chance to win a free online course with Selina, head to our Instagram to enter now!
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Mindfulness helps me resolve anxiety. It keeps me grounded throughout periods of uncertainty which, as an entrepreneur, is pretty much every day. Through mindfulness, I’ve learned to feel my emotions and temper my reactive responses, like not sending emotional emails, which has saved me from saying a lot of things I can’t take back.
If you’re committed to being the best version of yourself, mindfulness is one superpower you want to cultivate.
First, let’s get clear on what I mean by mindfulness since it’s a popular buzzword.
Mindfulness means being consciously aware of something. This begins with being aware of your state – perceiving the thoughts trailing through your mind, noticing the emotions that are present and bodily sensations like the feeling of your feet on the floor, or the texture of your shirt against your skin.
To be aware at this level requires attention to detail and presence of mind that has you mentally in tune with your body. It’s the difference between being all there (physically and mentally present) or half there (physically present, but your mind is thinking of something else).
Mindfulness and meditation aren’t synonymous. That means you don’t have to sit still and be quiet for long periods at a time just to practice mindfulness…though that’s one way of doing it.
When I first started a mindfulness practice, meditation felt difficult and uncomfortable. If that sounds like you, it’s ok to start somewhere else. Take it from me (the Fairy), if I can incorporate mindfulness into my life, so can you.
Here are 4 ways you can use mindfulness as your superpower in your daily life:
Move it! Mindfully – I told you mindfulness doesn’t mean you have to sit still. It can be hard for high-achievers to sit in one place too long because the mind creeps in with thoughts, ideas and “to-do’s” followed closely by the feeling that you’re wasting time. Enter mindful movement. Any activity can be done mindfully – even walking down the hallway to the photocopier – if you’re present in your body. Start with being aware of your 5 senses and notice the sights, sounds, smells and textures you’re taking in. This awareness brings you into the present moment. The trick is to stay there, which is easier to do when you’re moving because you’re taking in new stimulation throughout the task you perform.Yoga is a physical practice that’s based around mindfulness, but if you’re more of a gym buff you can bring presence of mind and body to any movements you’re doing.
Take breaks with breath – breathing gives you direct control over your nervous system. You’re able to calm your body down and switch out of the overstimulated fight or flight response that takes most of us over during the day. I’ve started taking “breath breaks” during the day where I stop and take 10 conscious deep breaths before returning to my task. This has helped me, and several of my clients, to stay calm, focused and productive during the day because it calls you back to the present moment instead of wandering into mental la la land (which has an impact on your nervous system by the way).
Use breath breaks to center yourself when you’re feeling overstimulated, frustrated, or emotional.
Master your emotions – mindfulness extends to emotions too. One of the most idolized qualities of leaders is their ability to keep cool under pressure. When you’re aware of the emotions you’re feeling, you enter a state of observation where there’s distance between you and the emotions you’re having. Think of this like watching yourself on a screen, you see yourself get triggered but part of your mind stays objective about it. That’s called being “the witness”.
Emotional mindfulness isn’t just for the bad times, it will keep you from getting too elated over ideas, circumstances, or hot dates that you’re excited about. Let’s face it, we’ve all overreacted to meeting the person we think is “the one,” or landing an opportunity we think will be a big break, only to get our hopes up and take up double the emotional investment to bring ourselves back from disappointment. Mindfulness is like temperance, whether you’re pissed off or giddy with excitement, it will help you stay more in the middle.
Cultivate creativity – we live in a world where authenticity is praised. To excel in your career and life you have to trust and discover what it means to be uniquely you. To do this you must bring original thought and your own creative ideas to the projects (or Instagram grids) you’re working on. When your mind is filled with useless banter or stressful anecdotes, it’s hard to tap into creativity. Innovative thinking comes easiest to a clear mind. This is where mindfulness, and even meditation, can come in. The practice of being fully present and in the moment, allows your mind to slow down and let’s creative ideas surface in the spaces. That’s why ideas come to you in the shower, instead of at your desk staring at the cursor on a blank document. When you bring moments of mindfulness into your day, you’ll find you’re more free-thinking which allows creative solutions and ideas to come through.
As with many other things in life, the start of your mindfulness practice is just the beginning. Since starting my practice and committing to make mindfulness a part of my every day, it has impacted my life in ways I wouldn’t have expected. I’m more calm, focused and grounded. My relationships are deeper and I feel more in touch with myself. All of this is possible for you, too. It starts with being aware, one moment at a time.
Header image courtesy of Jerry Arbs.