We caught up with Katie Lavidge, the Chief Wellness Guru at Urban Flow, the leading corporate wellness company in Sydney, to get her tips on how to implement mindfulness into the busy schedule of the modern professional. Namaste!
Mindfulness has come a long way since it's origin in the Vedas thousands of years ago. And while selling all your earthly belongings and hiking up to the mountaintops of Nepal is one way to find your Zen, it may not be for everyone. That’s okay. Throughout history mindfulness has been evolving along with society. People have re-invented it time and time again so that it may stay alive throughout the centuries. In the past there have been incredible influencers such as John Cabot Zen, Thich Nhat Hanh, and many more who have been taking these ancient teachings and reworking them so they can be widely understood among the people of their time.
And now it’s our time. It’s a new century and along with it we have new tools and a new way of living. It’s a time where technology is growing at an exponential rate and where external stimulus is seemingly never ending. We are pioneers, paving new ways to use our technological tools to help make our life more efficient, more productive and more connected than ever before. But this rapid technological growth can be a double-edged sword and can pull us away from the very thing we are truly seeking, the present moment.
Lucky for us we are equipped with 3 tools that are by our side every moment of our life from the day we are born to the day we die. These magical companions are our Body, Breathe and Mind and they can help us drop into the present moment whenever and wherever we want. Here are some easy tips that you can incorporate into your day that will help you translate this ancient practice into your modern life. After all...
“there is only one time that is important-- Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power” – Leo Tolstoy.
You may be reading this on the bus ride into work, at home in your bed, or maybe you’re one of those incredible multitasks-ers and walking and reading at the same time. Whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, pause for just one moment. Feel the temperature of the air on your skin. Is it hot? Is it cold? Notice any sounds from the world around you. Are they soft or harsh? Are they pleasant or annoying? Look up, what do you see? Is the lighting around you bright or dim? Is there nature or art surrounding you? Now notice where your mind goes when you start to take in your surroundings. It’s through our senses that we are able to experience the world around us and this can only be achieved in the present moment. You can’t smell the coffee you had yesterday morning and you can’t feel a hug you will get from a friend tomorrow. All of life’s moments can only be fully experienced in the present and we come to our senses to find our connection to the NOW.
Did you know that when the length of your exhale is longer than the length of your inhale it physically sends a signal to the brain to relax? By elongating the exhale we stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system which sends a signal to the brain telling us we are safe and not to stress. To tap into this calm state we will use our breath to anchor us into this moment. Find a comfortable position, either sitting or standing, eyes open or closed, however you feel most comfortable, and close your mouth. Inhale through the nose for the count of 3-2-1, pause, exhale through the nose for 5-4-3-2-1. Inhale 3-2-1, pause, exhale 5-4-3-2-1. Repeat 10 times. Notice how your shoulders melt down, your muscles soften, and your thoughts begin to slow down. Welcome to this moment.
Stop. Drop what you’re doing and listen to the conversation you are having to yourself inside your head. What are you thinking about? Are you replaying a conversation from yesterday that didn’t go so well? Or maybe your thinking about what you will have for lunch or your plans for the weekend? What are the qualities of your thoughts? Are they positive and constructive or are they judgemental and unsupportive? Whatever your thoughts may be, just watch them. Observe them like a spectator sitting in the bleachers of a footy game. Notice where they go, how they move, the energy that surrounds them. Then, just as you watched these thoughts enter your mind, watch them dissipate. Notice how they trail off as another thought steps in. By being the silent observer of our thoughts we are able to put some space between the thought and our reaction to them. It’s in this space that we are able to detach from them, let them go, and find some headspace.
If you're interested in learning more about Mindfulness and offering it to your employees, send me a message or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Head Space!