Mindfulness is all over the place and within you. We see mindfulness demystified through online courses, in books, and ads about it all-over social media. It seems like everyone has to remind one another to be mindful – repeatedly. What is “mindfulness” anyway, and is it the same as meditation? Let me explain: Mindfulness is more or less a way of living, whereas meditation is a practice. In other words, mindfulness allows us to live with this very chaotic world we subscribe to, and meditation allows us to disconnect from the chaos for a specific amount of time. All of us (and I mean all…yes, you too!) don’t allow ourselves enough time to breathe. I know that sounds crazy because you have no time to “give” anyway, but I assure you, you do. I struggle with it daily, but I will not give up fighting for it because I know it will allow me to continue being the best person I can be for myself, my partner, my team, and anyone I may encounter. I recently made just two changes in my day-to-day that I honestly implore you to try yourself. Read ahead and then give it a shot!
Be Mindful of Stimulation
Since many of us now work remotely, we have the freedom to cultivate our work environment experience. Understandably, many of us have children, furry family members, and loud backgrounds. That said, we can still make changes amidst all of that. First, I know you may think it’s helpful having the TV on just as “background noise,” but consider all of the sensory input you’re taking in at a time. It’s a lot. Part of being mindful is to create a space that allows us to be – well — mindful. For a long time, I had the news on in the “background” for 8-10 hours a day. I found myself with an overwhelming and rundown feeling before my daily routine had even begun and then had depleted all my energy by the end of it. I recognized that it might not be good to have all that constant stimulation, so I turned off the news. My ears rang, and I could breathe. I could dial in and focus more on my work, or whatever was in front of me. A common misconception is that humans can multitask when, in fact, we cannot. According to an article in Psychology Today, we’re just really good at convincing one another that we can.² I’m not saying that to be mindful, you have to work in silence. Quite the contrary, to be mindful is to be aware. Be aware of what you’re hearing and seeing and rid yourself of unneeded stimulation.
Mindfulness and Food
Food and mindfulness are composed of the same substance. Put in the good and output your best. When remote work began for many of us, I’ll admit that I was not mindful of this. I felt as though I had two jobs, one that pays me and one that I paid a lot of mind to – namely, food. I want to be clear, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but like anything we indulge in, it requires mindfulness. I went from waking up early every morning to making a vacation-style breakfast with all the chocolate-filled pancakes, bacon, Goetta (a Cincinnati type of sausage made with oats, that, when looked at, you gain a pound – but oh so delicious), and eggs. Now, I’ve dialed back substantially, I became mindful about my excessive indulgence, and I adjusted the habit before it became a real issue.
Turning off the TV and being aware of what I was ingesting every day made me better than the previous days. I can focus more, and I have more time now that I’m not making a 5-star breakfast regularly. But there is one more action that sings harmoniously with mindfulness, and that’s meditation. Remember, meditation is what allows us to disconnect from this very connected world and centers us. The beauty in meditation is that it is so unique yet similar to many who practice it. For me, I meditate by walking in silence, with no headphones, no phone, just silence. Not only is it good for my body but my mind. My partner, on the other hand, starts every day with a coffee and her journal. At NetImpact Strategies, our founder, Kavita Kalatur, uses the Calm app regularly to meditate (if you don’t know what the app “Calm” is, check it out here. It’s incredible.) You may try walking in silence, journaling, using the Calm app, or maybe practicing a mediation that speaks to you. Whatever the case, live mindfully and practice the art of meditation. You’ll be happier once you can breathe again.