Mindfulness: A Powerful, Transformative Skill
As a Certified Employment Strategist helping career changers prepare for their next career move, I listen to my clients talk about their career experiences and milestones, but also their challenges and disappointments. I’ve observed that if negative experiences are not dealt with, they can linger in the subconscious mind and impact the quality of life.
Letting go of these past experiences starts with mindfully focusing on breathing in and breathing out, fully embracing the experience, and being mindful of the lessons learned. We can transform turbulent experiences into empowering ones. We can choose to change our thoughts and our responses to situations. We can choose to regain focus on the task at hand. While a setback tests our resilience, it can make us stronger by allowing us to channel tenacity.
As stated in an excellent Harvard Business Review article: Mindfulness should no longer be considered a “nice-to-have” for executives. It’s a “must-have”: a way to keep our brains healthy, to support self-regulation and effective decision-making capabilities, and to protect ourselves from toxic stress.
What is mindfulness? According to Mindful.org, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
I consider mindfulness a transformative way of living more fully in the present. It’s about being engaged and tuned into your surroundings and inner consciousness on a deeper level. We all have the ability to cultivate mindfulness — we just need to learn to access this powerful skill and gift.
Here are 10 tips to help you access and strengthen your mindfulness skills:
- When faced with a stressful situation, keep your feet planted firmly on the ground and your eyes steady. This will improve focus, increase confidence, raise awareness, and maintain calm.
- Practice yoga, meditation, and Reiki as pathways to inner healing and mindfulness. Breathe deeply from the diaphragm to release stagnant emotions and negative thoughts, realign chakras, dispel toxins, and provide empowering energy.
- Be aware of your thoughts and their impact on your life and relationships. Louise Hay, one of the founders of the self-help movement, believed that thoughts are energies that shape experiences. Focus your thoughts on the present rather than the past. Paying attention to the quality of your thinking will help you realign your thoughts and understand how to address situations and people from the highest positive intention.
- Evaluate your core beliefs and values. How have your beliefs and values shifted? What self-limiting beliefs are you preserving that may be causing imbalances and blockages in your life? Through mindfulness, you will be able to tune into your subconscious and realign your beliefs and values.
- Pay attention to your body’s signals. Traumatic incidents or negative experiences are often stored in the body as a cellular memory and certain representations can serve as triggers or patterns. Simply tune into your heart space — the guiding compass to your intuition and ultimate truth for the answer to a problem.
- Stop, look, and listen. When faced with a conflicting situation ask: “What do I have, and what do I need?” This is invaluable to thinking critically and making sound choices. This will help you to process the experience and make a wise decision rather than running away from the situation (a fight-or-flight response) or holding onto unresolved emotions.
- Practice affirmations of self-love and avoid self-judgment and condemnation. Appreciate your uniqueness and that of others. When we embrace self-love, it becomes easier to extend our positive feelings to others. Viewing life through this liberating lens will change our thoughts, beliefs, behaviours, and actions. Some examples of affirmations include:
- “I choose to allow myself to change, become whole, and accept all the goodness, forgiveness, and love that aids me in fulfilling my higher purpose.”
- “Today is the future I created yesterday.”
- “I let go of all fear, anxiety, worry and frustration, and give gratitude for my peace.”
- “My new response today is…”
- Demonstrate gratitude for everything — your life purpose, blessings, gifts and talents, and challenges. Be grateful for all the people in your life who have helped you and even those who haven’t lent support, for they serve as vehicles for powerful lessons to be learned. Practicing gratitude will provide you with healing and groundedness. The Center for Healthy Minds advocates the 531 Model:
- Take 5 minutes out of your day for meditation.
- Write down 3 good things that have happened to you.
- Do 1 act of kindness.
- Be compassionate. We never know what other people are undergoing. Everyone has a different model of the world. Often what you see is not really the heart of the issue; it’s only your interpretation of the situation. Asking the right questions will help determine the root cause of the issue and understand the depth behind the emotions and behaviours of others.
- Keep a “Mindfulness Journal” for self-reflection. Notice the little miracles and gifts you experience! Detail the emotions, patterns, recurring themes, and the sensations that you feel as you undergo certain events or experiences. Be mindful of the choices that you make, listen to how you and others respond or react, and how you make decisions. Do your choices and decisions stem from a place of love or fear? How can you see things differently? Where is change needed?
Increasing your mindfulness in both your personal and professional life will help promote a greater sense of well-being and transformation for yourself and your clients. Trust me when I say that I’m not just offering second-hand advice here. I practice mindfulness regularly and I can personally attest to the positive effect that it’s had on my life, my health, and in the coaching work I do with my clients.
I believe that mindfulness is important in all areas of life, whether it means being mindful of how we spend our time, how we treat ourselves and others, and how we do our business. When we leverage this skill on a daily basis, mindfulness has the ability to open up choice, alleviate fear, and transform our lives.