It is easy to get caught up in our emotions sometimes. Has this happened to you? You were simply going through your day and then receive an upsetting phone call, find yourself facing a big problem at work, or you get in a fight with your spouse. With lightening speed your mood changes. Emotions take over and you may get to a place where you think these negative emotions define you – I am angry, I am sad, I am confused.
Mindfulness can help. One definition of mindfulness is learning how to develop insight to our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. With mindfulness we realize that our emotions come and go. Our emotions are just one small part of our experience and not our whole being. Being mindful increases our self awareness, gives us a deeper connection with our inner resources, and helps us to feel centered.
According to a leadership study by Bain and Company, centeredness is the most important attribute of leaders that inspire. Centeredness is a state of greater mindfulness, achieved by engaging all parts of the mind to be fully present. Centeredness is fundamental to the ability to lead. It improves one’s ability to stay levelheaded, cope with stress, empathize with others and listen more deeply. Who wouldn’t want that?
You can start a practice of mindfulness by taking some quiet time each day to still your mind using meditation. When I first thought of meditating, I pictured people sitting serenely, cross legged in a peaceful place. This isn’t real life. Our lives are full, even chaotic. In certain seasons of our lives if we are building a business, raising small children, or caring for an ill loved one our lives don’t feel peaceful. Adding just a few minutes of quiet every day makes a big difference. Find a place where you won’t be distracted for 10-15 minutes. Close your eyes and clear your mind, allowing your thoughts to simply pass by. Remember when meditating your mind will wander and this is natural. Don’t get frustrated with yourself when this happens – expect it. Your mind is like a puppy. Think of training a puppy to stay. The puppy stays for a second then runs off, you call the puppy back and start again. Smile at yourself, and bring the puppy back.
Training the mind to be still and aware of your emotions helps you to take charge of them. Simply noticing your mood – anxiety, annoyance, frustration, immediately helps shift your perspective. Just being aware gives you the option to control and change your automatic reaction. Your circumstances haven’t changed but your perspective on them has.
Mindfulness has amazing life changing benefits. In addition to improving awareness research shows it:
- Reduces stress
- Decreases anxiety
- Improves symptoms of depression
- Makes the brain stronger and more resilient
Be willing to give yourself the space in the day for moments of mindfulness. If you have young kids this may be just 5 minutes during nap time, but all of us can take a few minutes to ourselves if we make it a priority.