The importance of mindfulness
Values: Openness and Trust,
Empathy and Compassion
The hustle day-to-day life has turned us into masters of multi-tasking. It’s great that we’re able to get so much done, but multi-tasking doesn’t always serve us well when it comes to our relationships and our health.
When Abraham Lincoln said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand," he was referring to the division among the country that led to the Civil War. The same concept applies to us as individuals – if you are trying to do many things at once, you can’t be effective at anything. When you practice mindfulness, it forces you to focus on one thing at a time. That allows you to strengthen relationships and results.
Here are several areas where it’s beneficial to practice mindfulness:
Be mindful to others. Everyone can share a time when they attempted to talk to a colleague, family member, or friend, and the other person just didn’t pay attention. And, we’re all guilty of doing the same to others. Taking time to focus on the person in front of you, and really listening to what they are saying strengthens relationships. Be Here Now and listening for understanding – concepts covered in the culture retreats – are great ways to practice being mindful of other people.
Sometimes it’s difficult to really pay attention to someone, whether it’s because you’re on a tight deadline, you’re not feeling well physically, or you aren’t in a positive 7frame of mind. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have time to focus your full attention, let the other person know, and find a time when you can give them your undivided attention. That lets them know they are important to you while allowing you to give both the other person and the task at hand the attention they deserve.
Be mindfulness to yourself. You are a lot more efficient and achieve your strongest results when you are at your best, best physically and mentally. It’s important to take time out for yourself – whether it’s going for a walk, hitting the gym, meditating, or curling up with a good book. We sometimes struggle a lot with taking time for ourselves – but we are better parents, partners, friends, and employees when we put ourselves first for a little while.
A newer concept – mindful eating – shows how paying attention to your body’s signals and the food you’re eating can lead to weight loss and maintenance. In this practice, you focus on how, what, where, and when you eat in a non-judgmental way. By listening to your body’s cues to evaluate what’s driving you to eat – thirst, stress, a craving, or hunger – helps you determine if you really need to eat. Then, if you are truly hungry, using all of your senses – seeing, hearing, tasting and feeling – when you eat helps you slow down and enjoy your food, leading you to eat only you’re your body needs. The Center for Mindful Eating has more information about mindful eating.
As we head in to the last long holiday weekend before classes begin, spend some of that extra being mindful of others and yourself. Sit down and focus on the person you’re having a conversation with rather than trying to do three things at once. Spend 30 minutes reflecting, catching up on a television show, or taking a walk – something that will help restore you, mentally and physically. This can be the start of new habits for the coming school year.
How do you practice mindfulness? How has being mindful helped you strengthen results and relationships? Share in the comments section.