A few weeks ago in our Wellbeing Wednesday Webinar we were joined by Ailbhe Lynch, fellow Organisational Psychologist and member of the OD team as she guided us through an introduction to the practical uses of mindfulness.
We posed some questions to her to further help us understand how mindfulness can benefit us right now, perhaps more than ever, and to find out some more practical tips for creating our own mindfulness practice in day-to-day life. Whilst mindfulness meditation has many benefits and we highly encourage everyone to give it a try (you might like to check out 10 Minute mind our online mindfulness platform, or these lunchtime drop-in mindfulness sessions with the Centre for Excellence in Mindfulness Research), there are also many benefits to simply taking mindful approach during everyday activities that can enhance and sustain wellbeing.
Here’s what Ailbhe shared with us:
How can a mindful approach benefit us during Covid-19 situation? In our home and work life?
The hype around mindfulness meditation is well deserved. While it’s not a remedy for everything, people who incorporate it into their lives often report heightened levels of happiness, patience, acceptance, and compassion, as well as lower levels of stress, frustration, and sadness. There’s plenty of research to back up these findings too. Separate studies conducted by Northeastern University found that 3 weeks of mindfulness increased compassion by 23% and reduced aggression by 57%, and another found that 10 days of mindfulness reduced stress by 14%. I talk about many more of the psychological and general health benefits in our OD blog on mindfulness.
How have you managed to be mindful at the moment?
For me, my biggest thing has been mindful walking, I take that really seriously as my personal time each day, and I actually refer to my daily walk as a “wellbeing walk”! On that walk I actually do try and practice the 7 pillars of mindfulness, noticing things like smells, birds singing, the colour of the sky, new flowers, and I try to have noted one new thing that I’ve seen on my walk each day – amazing that it’s possible after all these months of walking in the same park.
What are the main challenges of being mindful at this time?
There are so many challenges I could list based on individual circumstances. The biggest might be time, stress, or misunderstanding of mindfulness leading to frustration. When you are stressed you are less inclined to sit and breathe because the amygdala, that fight or flight part of your brain really is telling you to do the opposite and so if you’re feeling this way then practical mindfulness can be more useful than trying to sit and meditate
How about overcoming challenges when it comes to practicing a more mindful approach, are there any good tips you have for our readers?
The biggest tip is that it’s ok, whatever you’re doing is ok, mindfulness is the opposite of perfectionism, one minute a day is ok, so is no minutes, so is ten, so is thirty. To encourage you to maintain the practice you might like to make a note of every day that you do practice, and this can reinforce a new habit and help to build momentum.
Another tip would be, rather than anxiously wanting to finish an everyday routine task in order to get on with doing something else, take that regular routine and fully experience it like never before. For example, if you are cleaning your house, pay attention to every detail of the activity.
Rather than treat this as a regular chore, create an entirely new experience by noticing every aspect of your actions. Feel and become the motion when sweeping the floor, sense the muscles you use when scrubbing the dishes,
Finally, another technique is to take a moment to really appreciate the little things in your day today. For example, noticing the electricity powers your kettle, the postman that delivers your mail, your clothes that provide you warmth, your nose that lets you smell the flowers in the park, your ears let you hear the birds in the tree by the bus stop,
If you haven’t done so already, please go ahead and listen to our webinar that accompanies this and the previous mindfulness post by Ailbhe. Click here to visit our LinkedIn Learning Pathway and the video for this webinar.
How will you bring a more mindful approach to your everyday?
Ailbhe, Emily and Jonny