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Team & Culture

February 15, 2016

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What Is "Mindfulness", And How Can You Practice It?

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Let’s take 4 minutes (550 words) to explore...

  1. the definition and science of mindfulness
  2. 3 common hurdles in making it a habit
  3. 2 strategies to experiment with

1. What is mindfulness? Simply put, it’s awareness.

To practice mindfulness is to be aware of my present thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Being mindful can feel like… calmness in a chaotic day, focus in the fact of conflicting priorities, a sense of happiness and creative confidence, or something else. Entrepreneurs and founders rarely talk about the stress or depression they face, and that's a huge problem.

 Meditation is one way to practice mindfulness; a long exhale, paying attention to taste and smell, and noticing one’s thoughts without judgement are a few of many other ways.

 Research experiments on the impact of mindfulness usually involves beginners practicing mindfulness meditation for 15 minutes a day -- after a month, they show measurable improvements in brain cell growth, empathy, antibody production, stress levels, and more! (See these papers)

 2. Mindfulness sounds good in theory -- perhaps it even sounds too simple and too good to be true -- but how is it working for us, in practice?

 To tackle this question, we held a discussion on Practical Mindfulness with Hubbers, facilitated by Toby Ouvry (Mindfulness & Meditation Coach) and myself (repping Cut The Small Talk).

We heard these hurdles repeatedly:

  • “Practicing mindfulness sometimes feels boring or unproductive”
  • “I tried it and liked it, but it’s not yet a habit”
  • “My mindfulness practice just mornings and not yet integrated with my day-to-day life; for example, I am not mindful when I feel I should be most mindful”
Together, we asked questions about where those hurdles are coming from. (For example, when I notice myself thinking “sitting around being mindful is unproductive,” I question how I’m defining productivity, what I believe about work, and how I can design a mindfulness practice that I look forward to).

 3. Two Mindfulness Practices to Experiment with, keeping those hurdles in mind.

  1. Tiny Triggers - this practice can integrate mindfulness and make it a easier habit!
    Think of one trigger (ie, when I’m frustrated with email or  marketing strategies, when someone needs me urgently, when I feel my brain is cloudy), and one mindful action (ie, close my eyes and take a deep exhale, stretch, write freeflow). Whenever you encounter a “trigger,” do your action! Rehearse this practice in your mind’s eye a few times to make it easier.
  2. One Key Question - the practice can make “being mindful” feel more “productive.”
    Decide on one question to mull over, for that day/week/month. Come back to it at a specific time, say, every morning, right before lunch, or at a specific trigger. The question can be anything you want to be mindful with, for example “how am I feeling right now?” or “what is most important to me at present?”

Mindfulness is a practice -- something we adapt for ourselves, fit to our goals, adjust periodically, and grow by doing. In that sense, it's a lot like growing company culture, or convincing yourself to take the leap and try something newWhat practices can you start doing today?

P.S. Join other hubbers practicing mindfulness at Breathing Space - a space, time, and community! Take time for yourself in the quiet room, join guided meditation or yoga, share experiences in the digital community… learn more here: http://peatix.com/event/131750