I recently attended a webinar titled Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Busy World which is part of a wellbeing webinar series from the People Development Team at Manchester Met. These are essentially my notes and thoughts on the session but thought I would post them here as I haven’t blogged in a long time.
I have dabbled in mindfulness and can really appreciated the benefits, but I have just struggled to fit it into my daily routine. This webinar has served as a much-needed reminder that it is not hard to fit mindful practice into your life. The session was 90 minutes and was held over Teams. The message pings and feedback from other people’s microphones were a little distracting at times and in fact, highlighted the difficulties surrounding remote working. I attended the session to consider mindfulness practice in my personal life, but I also came away with a new outlook on my work life as well.
I have always multitasked to some degree regardless of whether I am in a physical place of work or working at home, but the pandemic has exacerbated multitasking at work and not necessarily for the better. For example, when attending a physical meeting, it would be quite rude to start editing a document on your laptop, using your phone, or writing out a response to an email that has just popped up. However, I find myself doing this quite a lot when homeworking. I might be attending a team meeting, but I will also be catching up on my emails on a different screen. As a result, I am not giving my full attention to either of these activities and diminishing the quality of the work. I am also at risk of stressing myself out and flooding my body with those pesky cortisol and adrenaline hormones. No thanks!
I have realised there are so many times when I am not fully present in the moment both professionally and personally and this stems from being on autopilot a lot of the time e.g. looking at my phone out of habit when watching a film or socialising with friends, falling into my thoughts when doing a task such as walking or driving, watching TV when eating, making the bed whilst brushing my teeth… You get the idea. I am not present. I will multitask to be more efficient and fit things into life, which is great for some things, but it is not always a good thing. Quality over quantity as they say…
The session slides were based on opposite ways of existing essentially: avoidance Vs approaching, mental time travel Vs staying present in the moment, depleting Vs nourishing.
Doing Vs Being or Autopilot VS Conscious Choice
Are you just going through the motions? This includes doing things at work such as planning, developing, analysing and we can all do this automatically without much thought to a certain extent. Doing helps us get through the working day and life e.g. answering emails, travelling to work etc. But you can exercise your ability to make a conscious choice in how you do these things and be present in the moment and in touch with your senses. Fair enough, answering emails is not the most joyous of tasks but it would help improve the standard of work if you are fully present when answering them.
Striving Vs Accepting
It is natural to want to strive for better in life and at work. Often, we are working towards targets or personal objectives and striving helps us to improve. We attend meetings and fixate on what wasn’t discussed or what needs to be done next instead of accepting that we had a good meeting and got some things done. It’s not always healthy to constantly be looking towards the next task or step in your career or life. Of course, to drive progress we need to strive and do… but to help ease the pressure of these responsibilities, sometimes it’s healthier to just accept things as they are, on the day. Some reflection can be helpful but sometimes there is no benefit to be gained from interrogating a past situation or action – let it be. Feelings and thoughts do not always reflect the reality of a situation and treating them as a mental event that comes and goes can be helpful.
Here are some practical tips I came away from the session with:
Control technology use. For me it serves as a massive distraction and I need to limit my use, especially social media.
Train the mind. All of this comes with patience and practice. I need to try to practice mindfulness and set time aside for this. I took up mindful colouring at the start of the pandemic and I need to get back to that as I loved it. There are so many books, podcasts, YouTube videos and free apps to choose from; some more practical, theoretical, or spiritual than others.
Mindfulness meditation. We did two short meditations in the session and it was lovely (despite being able to hear Jay’s meetings next door). I love this line which the mindfulness pro Mark Williams said at the end of the video – your breath is always with you and can be used as an anchor to stillness and peace.
Small ways to have a mindful day: be present during the morning shower, the morning coffee, when eating meals, walking, listening to music, exercising or reading. Take up gardening or do something creative.
Find a mantra…
Am I enjoying the journey?
I do enough. I have enough. I am enough.
Be kind to yourself Amy 🙂