Productivity//

Mindfulness Might Be Our Main Hope Against the Global ‘Epidemic of Speed’

Here are 5 daily mindfulness practices to help you slow down, live more consciously and be happier.

Photo by Amos Bar-Zeev on Unsplash
Photo by Amos Bar-Zeev on Unsplash

Crises and transformations often happen simultaneously in our fast-changing world. Organisational leaders today are more aware of how mental and physical stress impacts them and their businesses, and therefore, are always looking for tools or techniques to bring about sustainable change.

Mindfulness is a proven tool which can transform people and their interpersonal skills, improve their well-being, and pave the way for success. Hence, I am sharing with you 5 everyday mindfulness practices to bring about change in your life.

Slow down to rest and recharge

When I used to drive in the hills, I would come across public service messages saying: “Speed thrills but kills”.

The world of business is moving at breakneck speed, and keeping up is a constant uphill task. One has to deliver quicker, deadlines are becoming tighter, modes of travel and communication are getting faster, and there’s an overflow of information around us. Dealing with all this would make anyone’s head spin.

But is all this really making us happy? The relentless pace of striving and achieving deadlines leads to early burnout, shrinkage of our attention spans, and less focused work. We rarely allow ourselves to pause and connect with ourselves or with others, and prefer to be engaged in activities that keep our adrenaline levels high.

What we do not realise is that only when we stop for a moment and observe ourselves, can we really feel happiness.

First, make it a point to physically slow down. This means take regular, short breaks that help your mind to rest and recharge. Slow down, take mindful pauses, and take a moment to observe, listen, connect, feel and breathe. 

Take time to meet other people in office not just for work, but also to know how they are doing. Meet your customer not only for business, but to genuinely connect with them. 

Now, you have gathered the energy to take the next voyage of your life.

Avoid multitasking

Speed is like an epidemic. When we see others moving faster than us, we naturally want to follow them. The problem arises when our capacity or capability does not support the pace we aspire to. To overcome the situation, we multitask, and fail miserably.

The cognitive brain is incapable of executing two jobs at the same time

Many people claim that they multitask perfectly, but research suggests that in reality they are actually switching back and forth between one task and another. That implies less focus and shorter attention being paid to each task.

We waste both mental and physical energies when we are switching between multiple tasks. 

Prof. Clifford Nass, a Stanford University researcher, found in his study that people who do heavy multitasking are actually worse at sorting out relevant information. The study also found that when we attempt to perform multiple tasks simultaneously it sometimes takes twice as long to complete, and we tend to make more mistakes.

So try to do single-tasking—that is, complete one task and then go to the next one. To the outside world it may look like multitasking, but you will be able to complete each task with much more efficiency.

Spend time with nature

Yes, I am serious. Being with nature can make a big difference in your life. Call it nature mindfulness, eco-therapy, nature therapy, your “green time”, or whatever you like.

Spending time with nature helps in relieving stress and anxiety, increasing memory, enhancing one’s feelings of happiness and well-being, which improves memory and boosts  the mood, which in turn make one more productive and a better human being. 

Also, we humans evolved from the wilderness, so our brains truly benefit from journeys into nature.

Perform mindful meditation

Mindfulness is a millennia-old technique that’s much-needed in today’s world.

Science is conducting extensive research on mindful meditation, and researchers have found unlimited benefits of mindfulness on our physical health, emotional well-being, and performance. It has been established that with regular practice, mindfulness helps one deal with unwanted stress, protects from unnecessary anxiety, increases mental and physical resistance and boosts one’s general mood, helping one to be happy.

Organisations like the Mindful Science Centre are doing extensive research and cultivating shorter micro practices to help people and organisations incorporate these practices easily in daily life. The Mindfulness India Summit, an annual summit held in Mumbai, showcases such practices through multiple workshops for participants to experience and take back. 

Mindfulness is known to reduce cardiovascular and mental diseases. On the performance front, it helps boost decision-making skills and strengthens self-confidence.

There are enormous benefits of mindfulness. The sooner we start, the better our chance of having a healthy life.

Practice thankfulness

We are all constantly chasing happiness, financial stability, good health, loving family connections, helping friends, social recognition and a comfortable life. Do we ever take a moment to pause and express gratitude for things we already have?

It is said that grateful people are happier and healthier.

Gratitude blocks toxic emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret and depression, which can destroy our happiness. 

Most scientific studies show direct association between gratitude and a sense of overall well-being. It is proven that grateful people experience better quality of life as compared to people who constantly crib and complain.

There are many Gratitude Resentment and Appreciation tests available online that one can use to check their thankfulness levels, which can be an indirect indicator of your well-being.

The practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life.

Dr Robert A. Emmons, a leading expert on the science of gratitude and Professor of Psychology at UC Davis says, “It’s impossible to feel envious and grateful at the same time.”

Dr Ellie Cobb, a holistic psychologist and director of Psychology at Thankful says, “People who intentionally cultivate gratitude show greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with learning, rational thinking and decision-making.”

I suggest four simple gratitude practices to start with:

  • Appreciate every morning that you are alive, and extend sincere thanks to all the living and non-living things that make your life easy and worth living.
  • After every meal, pause and appreciate the nourishing meal and extend gratitude to all the people involved in bringing that meal to your table.
  • Before you start your work, extend gratitude to everyone who has made you worthy of your position. Say thanks to colleagues, bosses, parents, teachers and anyone else you remember.
  • Every day, find someone new in your office or home who is doing some thankless job and who is generally not thanked by others. Make it a point to thank such a person every day.

These simple practices have made a dramatic change in my life, and I am sure that if you practice them regularly, you will also find fulfillment, happiness and joy in living.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- Marcus Aurelius

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