Everyone has times when they feel incredibly sharp and productive. Wouldn’t it be great to have that feeling more often? If that appeals to you, then read further.
You can maintain focus and sharpness, by spending as little as 3 minutes per day, practicing Mindfulness. Once viewed as esoteric and eccentric, mindfulness has now become mainstream. In fact, the 2014 SuperBowl Champion Seattle Seahawks football team attributes its success in part to the practice of mindfulness. Google also has used mindfulness since 1997 to improve the performance of its employees. In this month’s Author Teleseminar, Michelle Risa, an expert in holistic preventative medicine, combining nutrition, yoga, meditation, and emotional intelligence, gave us a broad overview of mindfulness and some exercises we can do to obtain peak performance in our professional and personal lives.
Michelle defined mindfulness as just being present – paying full attention to what we are doing, whether it is listening to the people talking to us, or tasting the food we are eating or navigating through life by making wiser decisions versus repeating sabotaging habits. Practicing mindfulness is like exercise for the brain. Just as muscles get stronger with exercise, mindfulness exercises result in a more conscious brain that enhances its performance.
Mindfulness exercises can take many forms. The Seattle Seahawks use visualization and emphasize the importance of being present in every second of every practice and game. Google uses meditation to improve problem solving and leadership skills. Others use breathing exercises, or specific eye focus, or movement such as yoga, or chanting. If one style doesn’t suit you, try others.
Some people complain that they are not able to stop their mind from thinking, so they cannot practice mindfulness or meditation. The aim, Risa explained, is not to stop the mind – that’s virtually impossible. Instead, you want to try to focus the mind on something, and when thoughts come up, quietly push them into the background.
Practicing mindfulness has many benefits. The Seattle Seahawks use it in every second of every practice and game to attain peak performance. Google uses meditation to improve problem solving and leadership skills. Mindful listening improves relationships and communications as the person you are listening to actually feels heard. When you pay attention to the food you are eating and eat more slowly, it improves digestion and can lead to weight loss. Mindfulness can also reduce stress, pain and disease, leading to better health, and improve performance and creativity.
Risa provided a simple process for incorporating mindfulness into our busy lives.
- Set aside just a few minutes per day, every day. Consistency is more important than the duration of the practice.
- During that time, check in with yourself – listen to how you are. Feeling low on energy and need more sleep? Would you benefit from less toxic food and more nourishing relationships? Overall, are you treating yourself as only a best friend would?
- Choose a style among the hundreds available that you think will fit you and try it for 30 days. If it isn’t working for you, try a different style.
- When needing to make a decision, ask yourself “is this a loving choice?” Will this put a smile on my face?” Listen to your gut and you’ll get the answer.
If you are serious about obtaining the benefits of mindfulness, Michele offered to help you set up a customized mindfulness practice, whether for 3 minutes/day or longer. She will provide a Skype or phone consultation for just $7 (a $247 value) and will provide follow-up to make sure it is working for you. To set up your appointment with Michele, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.