It would seem superfluous disputing that the mind is the most important cognitive part of the body; assuming that’s so, being ‘mindful’ should be at least in the highest echelon of good default positions.
What does mindfulness mean? An article in the February edition of Toastmaster magazine gives this a thoughtful (as it were) look.
The author wastes no time in maximizing the scope of mind matters: she uses the example of a familiar cartoon called ‘The Worrier Pose’, which illustrates that we typically juggle a miasma of concerns, to make the point that what may be top of the whirlpool of our mind is – everything!
Engaging in mindfulness helps divert us from self-judgement and other distractions of consciousness. It has been a part of practices such as yoga and Buddhism for centuries. In our times, this subject had come to influence a range of fields, from psychotherapy to sports.
To dissect what mindfulness really encompasses, consider these elements:
- Focusing on the moment: ‘secular’ mindfulness is considered to mean paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment in a non-judgemental way; in this way one’s senses are tuned in to now; accepting that the mind will wander, meditation can be a valuable way to address this, as an “activity of bringing your mind back when it wanders”, training it to settle on the present
- Focusing on the mind itself: another perspective sees mindfulness as being aware of our mental states, non-judgementally; adhering to this practice helps one to breed an inner balance along with self-confidence, and moreover one can “more readily access creativity and intuition necessary for publicly communicating a vision and problem-solving”; feelings such as anxiety can be recognized for what they are, minimizing their impact
- Focusing on colleagues and others in supportive groups and professional organizations: understand and encourage the diversity in others one encounters in these groups, reducing barriers and increasing connection, as well as enhancing our communicative skills in speaking and listening
There are also a few suggestions on to how to ‘cultivate’ mindfulness.
- Keep some physical distance from one’s cell phone
- Concentrate on one task at a time (multi-tasking is multi-muddling)
- Try changing habitual responses, such as using the less dominant hand for tasks usually done with the other
- Pay attention to all of one’s senses
- Use the meditative practice of focusing on the centre of the body, which substitutes awareness of the present moment in lieu of attention on thinking
These approaches contribute to enhancing ‘mental strength and clarity’, laudable resources for coping with our fast-paced lifestyle.