A Guide To Meditation and Mindfulness - And How To Unwind In 30 Seconds
The art of meditation, and how to meditate, is a long story. It often has a touch of ‘fluffiness’ to it, e.g. people don’t like to think that something monks in Asia do, and the hippies did, will actually benefit them. However, meditation has luckily gone mainstream, and that’s thanks to another word: mindfulness. Particularly, with mindfulness in the workplace.
Now what is mindfulness? It’s about being in the moment and being self aware. Similar to Emotional Intelligence (EQ), it is about self awareness and awareness of others. Being mindful. For mindfulness, the NHS uses the example of consciously feeling the banister when you are walking up or down the stairs. Being able to take yours surroundings in, non judgementally, just being very mindful.
Meditation is the art of practising mindfulness. It is about sitting still and quieting the mind. That’s how most people would define it anyway. Personally, I think if you go for a jog, or relax in the sauna, sit at the beach and watch the waves, you are meditating too; you are definitely mindful and compassionate with yourself. It’s your form of meditation. I like both. I like sitting at the beach, disconnected from my phone and any influences, and just let my mind wander. That’s what minds do. It’s healing. It’s food for the soul.
And I also like the formal practise of mindfulness. Particularly my 20 minutes every morning of clearing my mind. It’s like going the gym, we train our brain to focus on the present moment, and to not focus on our thoughts. We do that by sitting or lying down, being still and observing the mind. Of course we can also find objects to meditate on. When we notice that the mind attaches itself to a thought, we bring our attention back to our breathing, in a very mindful way.
Let’s go through an example of mindfulness meditation. You start out short, maybe sit down for a minute or two. Close your eyes if you are comfortable, or gaze to the floor. Just focus on your breathing. The reason we use the breath is that we always carry it with us, so we have a focus and anchor point with us all the time. By focusing on the breathing you might notice that your mind wanders. That’s ok, just bring your attention back to the breathing. We do that for a while and stop.
As we advance, and repeated the above sequence, we might try to notice sounds that are present. Or thoughts of course. Like clouds in the sky we acknowledge them and then let them go. Let them pass. Focus back on your breathing. Be mindful.
When I teach my mindfulness courses, we start with training the mind first to bring the attention back to your breathing. Then we experiment by focusing on sounds and thoughts, then later do what is called a body scan. It helps you to scan and experience any tension and sensations in your body. As there is a very strong body mind connection. You develop a mindfulness awareness of your body and mind.
In my mindfulness at work courses we also teach a goto meditation. It came from a 3 minute long meditation, and is now just called a "3 step breathing meditation". The reason is that you can do it in 30 seconds, 3 minutes or 30 minutes. The idea is very simple for this meditation.
First you sit down and let all your thoughts come to your mind. It’s like a scanning of things that are going on. So when you feel overwhelmed and busy, and your mind isn’t keeping up with your todo list or things you need to do next, you want to jump into this quick meditation.
So you collect all that’s going on. I like to call it ‘compartmentalise’ your thoughts. Take about a minute or two to do that, and then you focus on your breathing. Don’t let the mind go back and focus on the thoughts and things you need to do, just focus on your breathing. This clears the mind, and brings your attention to the present moment.
The third step is opening up your thoughts to what’s next. A task at hand, a break, maybe lunch. Whatever it might be in the workplace, just open up and realise it isn’t as stressful as you thought. Being mindful of what’s there to come.
Below is an audio recording of the guided 3 step breathing space. You can easily do that whilst sitting at your desk, gazing at the screen, or when you sit on a park bench during your lunch time hour. A great meditation as a go-to meditation.
Enjoy and if you want to find out more visit my website below.
Volker Ballueder - Transformational Coach and Business Consultant