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Go barefoot:  8 Tips for more mindful living

Go barefoot:  8 Tips for more mindful living

by Moyra Mackie on August 14, 2016

I always worry when HR departments seize on a fashionable idea as the panacea that may not cure all ills but will certainly tick this year’s boxes.

Andy Puddicombe, the co-founder of a terrific mindfulness app called Headspace, wrote a great article on LinkedIn criticising the vogue for “Mindfulness at Work,” given that this slightly misses the point of mindfulness.  As Andy says:

“Mindfulness simply means to be present, undistracted, no matter where we are or what we are doing at the time.”

Or like being barefoot, instead of wearing our comfiest footwear

Going barefoot – especially outside – brings instant awareness of our relationship to our surroundings.  It uses more muscles and strengthens our ankles but it also makes us think just a little bit more about where we are treading.

Mindfulness is a practice that you never perfect

There are many ways to become more mindful; more focused, attentive and present.  One of the best ways to build this ability in an increasingly distracting world is through meditation.  There is a ton of evidence emerging to show the wide-range of physical and emotional benefits of regular mindfulness-meditation.

It’s not a quick fix

Indeed it’s not a fix at all, because we can never say we’ve mastered mindfulness.

If you want to know how to get started with mindfulness-meditation, this is a great little video.  Instead of repeating those tips, I’d like to focus on eight simple things that I think really help to introduce more mindful moments into our everyday lives.

Although there is science to back many of them up, I’ve chosen them because they work for me.

#1 Stop those TV dinners

I hate to start my list with a negative, but it’s a biggie.  You eat more and taste less.  Away from the TV you can slow down and savour your food.

#2 Read more real books, especially poetry

This means you’ll be watching less TV which, if you read our newsletter on Stress, is an activity that will either anaesthetise your feelings or rouse you to anger.

Reading long form, away from the blue light of screens, builds your focus.  Poetry is my “quick fix” as you need to slow down and savour the words.

“Poetry transpires at the juncture between feeling and understanding – and so does the bulk of emotional life” ~ Lewis, Amini, Lannon “A general theory of love”

#3 Keep a journal

Treat yourself to a beautiful notebook and a nice pen and keep the journal by your bed.  Use it to reflect on your day and on your thoughts.

#4 Seek and savour silence

Put down that book, tablet or phone and spend ten or fifteen minutes in quiet contemplation.  Listen to what is around you and inside you.  If you can get outside to do this, even better.

#5 Consciously come off autopilot

Our brain loves habits – they use less memory.  Which is why we might struggle to learn to drive but after a while almost all drivers admit they have times when they can’t remember how they got home.  So re-focus on what you do.  Teeth-brushing or coffee making are great habits on which to practice mindful awareness.  Slow down, notice every motion and sensation and become aware of how much we lose when we gain a habit.

#6 Rediscover your inner tourist

Instead of walking as fast as you can while checking email or social media, do what you do when you’re in a new place (no, not tap Google Maps or take a selfie). Look up and around you.  Notice the sights, sounds and smells on your usual walk to work.

#7 Practice gratitude

It’s sometimes easier to notice what is not working, rather than what is.  So pay attention and say “thank you” for the small things.  Use your journal to write down three things you are grateful for each day and notice the difference in how you feel.

#8 Go barefoot

Really barefoot.  On days when it’s not raining (you might call it fair-weather mindfulness), I take off my shoes and wander around my garden.  I savour the sensation of the grass and earth beneath my feet.  I notice and appreciate the results of the hours I might have toiled in the past in the garden.  I breathe in deeply.

I let go of the day

How do you let go of your day?  How do you focus?

Help me add to this list.  Leave a comment here

This article first appeared in Mackie Consulting’s monthly newsletter.  Sign up here to receive original content, free downloads and carefully curated content from around the web.

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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