Thursday, 30 January 2014

How to be Mindful at Home and Work

As a holistic health practitioner, being mindful is a huge part of my day to day role.  The relationship between me, the therapist, and my client can only work if I am grounded in the present.  Then and only then can I help them, as my focus is entirely on their needs.

Living a mindful life doesn't have to be a challenge, I practise what I preach by using mindfulness techniques at home as well as at work.  Choosing to include mindfulness in your life is one resolution you will want to keep.

If you are just dipping your own toe in the whole mindful pool of knowledge, you may be wondering how you can implement the techniques in your own home life or work environment.

1.  Dealing with the kids/family.

One of the most important skills of any therapist is knowing how and when to listen.  This aspect of mindfulness is especially important when dealing with children. 

When I say 'listen' I don't mean that you keep one ear on the television and one ear on the latest school drama, I mean actively listening.  This means that you hear every word, you pick up on the non-verbal body language and you pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings about what they are telling you.

Only when you are in the moment can you really listen with awareness.

Exercise:  The next time one of your kids (or another family member) starts to tell you something, stop what you are doing and give them 100% of your attention.  Do this regularly and you build a stronger relationship.

2.  Dealing with work/colleagues.

Using mindfulness at work helps to build a positive team and enhance communication.  It helps resolve conflict as you learn to become aware of someone else's viewpoint and consequently leads to innovative problem solving.

Many big name companies such as Google and GlaxoSmithKline, provide some sort of stress management course, which includes mindfulness techniques, to lower stress and anxiety in the work place.  There have been case studies published with some reporting a 71% fall in employee sick days after introducing mindfulness.  (TfL 2003).

For more information on including mindfulness in the work place, take a look at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre - a specialised centre within the Psychiatry department at University of Oxford.

If however, you work alone, then mindfulness is just as beneficial.  It is the art of paying attention to your immediate experiences.  When you follow a mindful pathway, either for a personal purpose or for your career, it can lead to significant shifts in your clarity of thought.

As a writer, I use the breathing exercise below to clear my head between projects (very useful when I have to switch between a holistic topic and my YA fantasy project!)

Stopping the inner dialogue can take a lot of practise but on occasion that constant brain chatter can throw up a great plot twist.  This is when I embrace the moment and take what I need from the experience.  I challenge my author friends to give it a go - it's a wonderful tool for the prevention of writer's block.

  • Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
  • Begin to create a calm rhythm of breathing.
  • Now on your next breath in (inhalation) count (do it in your head).
  • As you breathe out (exhalation) count silently...two.
  • Wait for the next breath and count
  • Exhale...two.
  • Exhale...two.
  • Carry on counting every breath in and out
  • Notice how calm and gentle your breathing becomes and how your body starts to relax.
  • If thoughts intrude just acknowledge them and then concentrate back on your breathing.
You can do this exercise for as little or as long as you like but try to repeat it often so it becomes a part of your daily life.

If you are new to meditation and mindfulness then take a look at my latest book.  This pocket guide is ideal for beginner's as it takes you step by step through the process.

UK -

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic - do you use mindfulness techniques already?  What works for you?

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