A few days ago, I attended a talk held at The School of Life in association with Psychologies Magazine (both are great resources for those interested in self-development by the way).
The subject matter was that of Mindfulness, an integrative, mind-body approach to life that helps you relate effectively to your experiences.
One thing I took away from the talk was the idea that as children we lived in the now. We explored everything. We touched, we listened intently, we were curious. It was fun and exciting. But as adults we’ve become too busy to explore. We have tunnel vision focused on the future rather than what’s going on right now.
As a result, satisfaction with your life now is likely to be low as you dream of your ideal, perfect future. Your self-esteem may also suffer as you continually focus on the ‘future you’ rather than the ‘current you’.
So what can Mindfulness offer to help? Meditation. But not the humming, palms pressed together, crossed-legged buddha sort of thing, I promise! We tried it there and then, in a room with 30 other people. Just find a quiet spot, sit down, try to relax and close your eyes. Have a good listen to everything that you start to hear. What are the positive aspects of what you can hear? Then focus on your body. How does every part of it feel? Then focus on your breathing. How does each breath feel? What happens to your body when you breath in and out. Try at least to identify one thing you’ve never felt before that happens when you breath (I realised that you can feel the air pass through the edges of your nostrils when you breath in - random I know!). Try this for approx. four minutes.
If you’re anything like me, your mind will start to wander almost immediately. It wasn’t long before I was thinking about that email I hadn’t sent, what I needed to buy for dinner etc. When you realise your mind has wandered, recognise that it has and slowly bring your concentration back to your breathing. Keep bringing it back whenever it wanders. And when it does, don’t beat yourself up about it. Our minds are amazing things. Just notice it, be curious and focus back on the breath. See how you get on.
“I am not my mind, I am not my thoughts, I am not my plans” - Mark Williams, the guru of Mindfulness, who led the talk.
After the first few sessions, and thanks to Alice’s highly engaging exercises, I could already see, with a lot more clarity, where I wanted to go, and the skills that I needed to hone in on in order to have a more fulfilled career. As I am ending my sessions with her, I now have a clear picture of what I want from my career.