Mindfulness, it’s quite a buzz word at the moment (well has been for quite a while now!) but what does it actually mean? If you google it, you get 223 million results – so that kind of summarises it really. A lot of people have a lot to say about mindfulness. In my simple world, I like simple explanations, so I’m going to attempt to explain what I view as mindfulness. My intention is not to over simplify it, but to try to connect to all you cynics out there that think it’s a load of nonsense and maybe just convince one or two of you to give it a go!.
I was one of them cynics until a couple of years ago, and to be honest I’m never going to be a full blown meditation practitioner. Quite frankly, I don’t have the focus or maybe even the time to devote to becoming that, but I have discovered the benefits of being mindful, on an everyday, practical level.
So here’s what I think mindfulness is…
Paying attention, focusing on one thing at a time, appreciating the things that are happening at that very moment without a thought / worry / plan about what happens next whilst being kind to yourself and by that I mean not judging yourself if your mind slips into ‘ooh pretty flower’ or ‘I really must do the washing up’ whilst you’re trying to focus but instead just acknowledging it then bringing your focus back to the moment.
And the thing is, I think it makes everyday life, just a bit better when you do..here’s a couple of examples..
You know when you haven’t had a cup of tea (or coffee) all day and you finally have one and you take pleasure in wrapping your hands around the mug, you feel the warmth in your fingers and hand, you raise the mug to your mouth and feel the sensation of ‘hotness’ on your lips & nose, you take your first sip (I’m closing my eyes at this point too!) and you taste it, like REALLY taste it and its just amazing! Well that right there is mindfulness! You had a mindful cuppa!
So what’s the difference between that experience and any other cuppa? You know the sort that you go to take another sip from your mug, only to discover its actually all gone. Well the difference is, you pay attention. You feel, you taste, you appreciate.
So which one is a better experience?
Let’s apply this to being a parent (slight shift from drinking a cuppa).
It’s bedtime, you’re reading a book – it’s a Mr Men book (let’s say Mr Bump) – you’ve got a little person snuggled in your arms. You’re reading the book, saying the words, vaguely hearing the little person laugh at points – but your mind is thinking ‘oh god, I didn’t add ketchup to the Tesco order’, or ‘bum, I forgot to send that email to Dave’ or ‘is it terrible that I just want a glass of wine?’. You finish the book, tuck little person in, say goodnight and go off to add your ketchup to your order.
You have little person snuggled in your arms and feel the warmth of them, feel the touch of their fingers as they watch you read and stroke your hair (this is all very idyllic, they could equally be wiping snot on you) – smell their little toothbrushed (hopefully) breath when they yawn, watch their eyelashes flutter on their cheeks when they fall asleep, you watch them and you SEE them – do you know what I mean? There’s a difference..you can look at your children everyday but how often do you SEE them?
The difference? Well I know I walk away from my daughter with an overwhelming sense of love , pride and appreciation if I mindfully read to her at night. It feels good, I feel grounded and where I’m supposed to be, I might not have ketchup, Dave might not get his email, but that night I’m loving being a mum.
The thing I love about mindfulness is that it makes everyday stuff even better..food tastes better, walks outside..even more awesome, sex…well enough said!
Anyone interested in giving it a go? I won’t be teaching mindfulness here, but I totally recommend going off to give it a go, you can buy a book, attend a course or download an app like Headspace – whatever way you chose to learn about it is up to you, but totally give it a go..you seriously have nothing to loose and everything to gain.
I’m working to help businesses look at how they make sure their people come to work and be the best versions of themselves! How? With a focus on engagement, wellbeing and productivity – happy and productive people = happy customers = healthy bottom line!I’ve been working in the People function world for over 20 years, as a leader, as someone who’s led large scale transformational change, created a Wellbeing strategy, I’ve worked in Business partner roles and led HR operations teams across Financial services, 3rd sector, retail and catering. One thing is for sure, I like variety and change, but most of all, I need to know what I do makes a difference.
I’m a normal person, common sense and humour get me through most days, as does honesty and a damn right passion for what I do! I’m a mum of two AWESOME little human beings who inspire me to be better every single day.