“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally” – Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness and mediation have many benefits including:
- Improves your focus and concentration
- Helps you sleep
- Reduces stress
- Increases self-awareness
- Increases acceptance
- Increases happiness
- Improves immune health
- Slows ageing
As a lawyer, your life is often riddled with stress, anxiety and lack of sleep. While a never-ending, fast-paced environment is often what leads to success, over time, this very thing is what can cause you to burn out. Putting mindfulness into practice can be challenging, especially when first starting out.
1) It changes your brain
The reason the more you practice mindfulness, the more mindful and focused you will be is because you’re actually changing the neural structure of your brain. According to research in cognitive neuroscience, practicing mindfulness actually decreases the pathways in your brain responsible for mind-wandering while increasing the areas of the brain responsible for focus and attention. It will also decrease activity in the brain areas called the amygdala, leading to a decrease in stress and anxiety. Finally, practicing mindfulness also increases the activity in the brain area responsible for positive mood. Due to these brain changing capabilities, more people are practicing mindfulness to make them more resilient to the daily ups and downs and to keep them laser focused during days where distraction is high.
2) Mindfulness will keep you disciplined
Most things in life are outside of our control. We can’t control the world around us but through consistent mindfulness training, you can learn to control your mind. A trained mind can be your best friend rather than your worst enemy, leading you down the road to success and to accomplish things you never thought possible.
When you first start practicing mindfulness, you will notice that your mind will constantly race and you will tend to veer towards negativity. However, this practice is a process, slowly and surely you will start to see the results of a calm and focused mind.
3) Mindfulness will keep you resilient
You’re getting thoughts and opinions from everyone and the environment you are working in tends to be rocky and uncertain. This can be a very isolating experience full of stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness will protect yourself from being your own worst enemy. Building this resilience will not only decrease the day to day anxiety, but it will also unlock creativity and focus potential. Being able to think with a clear and creative mind will mean you and your team will be much better at tackling problems and getting stuff done.
Let’s try to put this into practice:
- Take two minutes right now to simply pay attention.
- Close your eyes and get into a comfortable position.
- You can be seated, lying down, standing up
- Notice your body.
- Take three deep breaths and as you’re breathing out, notice how your body feels against the chair or floor. Notice your feet on the ground. Notice the sensations throughout your body. Does your body hurt or feel uncomfortable anywhere?
- Allow your thoughts to come and go
- While you’re paying attention to your body, let your mind do as it wishes. Do not try to control it, simply pay attention to it. What are your thoughts telling you? See your thoughts as an observer without any intention to change them.
- Be aware of your whole body as best as you can. Take another deep breath and open your eyes when you’re ready
Research suggests that when we use mindfulness to learn how to savour rather than let good moments pass us, we can maximise the benefits associated with them. This will not only improve your psychological well-being, but it will also help you train your focus capabilities. This activity is another simple introduction to mindfulness meditation, however, this one does not require you to have a sitting practice. Rather, this activity can be performed anytime you are out and about and will train to you pay more attention to the sights, smells and sounds we often neglect.
How to do it
- You can either set aside a time to go for a 10 minute walk each day or you can simply practice this when running from meeting to meeting throughout the day
- As you walk try to pay attention to everything you can. Every sight, every sound and every smell should be the focus of your attention
- As you do this, really try to pick up on all of the positive things happening around you. For example, the feeling of the sun on your skin or the light breeze on your face. You could also focus on a tree you’ve never noticed before, the architecture of a building, the way people interact with each other or the familiar smell of a particular flower you like.
- Whatever the case, try and notice all the positive things around you.
- As you do this, try to pause for a moment and take them in — don’t just let them slip past you.
- Acknowledge each one of these deliberately and consciously. What about it makes it pleasurable to you?
- As you do these walks, try to notice something different every time you take the same path or try and switch up the path now and then to take in something new.
- The goal of this practice is to experience more pleasant things around you and to realise how much information comes and goes through our conscious awareness without our knowledge.
- This is a great activity for beginners because it will not only teach you to slow down every once and awhile but it will also help you savour and focus on the simple pleasures in life. Both of which are crucial in the chaotic lives of entrepreneurs.