Mindful leaders are different. You’ll recognise them by the way they interact with others, how they design their working day and the unflappable way they navigate the corporate world. How do you know if you’re a mindful leader? Well, we could give you a checklist to tick but why not take a look at what they’re not doing instead? Here are 10 things mindful leaders definitely don’t do. [Read more…]
Mindfulness. What’s stopping you? Maybe you’ve been thinking about trying mindfulness on for size but there are a few things that are putting you off? We bust 5 of the most common mindfulness myths, paving your way towards pain free mindful practice.
On our mindfulness courses we’re often told it’s tough to build more mindfulness into your day. True. There never seems to be enough time and building more mindfulness into your day can present a challenge when you’re busy getting on with life. Perhaps your struggling to squeeze mindfulness practice into a tough schedule or wondering how to build more mindfulness into your day? Questioning if building more mindfulness into your day is possible or stuck about where to start? If you are finding it difficult to build more mindfulness into your day, we show you how with our super easy infographic.
We’ll guide you through 5 steps to get you started on your mindfulness journey.
What is Mindfulness? Find out with our infographic.
You’ve heard about mindfulness but maybe you’re not sure exactly what it is. Perhaps you know someone who practices it but you’re not quite sure what they do? Does it all sound a bit nebulous and you don’t really know what everyone is going on about? Worry not, we’ve produced a handy ‘What is Mindfulness’ infographic to walk you through the mindfulness basics. Take a look and the next time someone talks to you about mindfulness, you’ll be able to talk about it like a pro. [Read more…]
How to create a mindful workplace.
If you’ve ever wondered what a mindful workplace is or how to create one this infographic is for you. We give you the skinny with our step by step ‘How to create a Mindful Workplace’ infographic and talk you through some easy to use mindfulness at work hacks to get you started. We’ll show you how to create a more mindful workplace.
Mindfulness has multiple benefits when practiced within the workplace. Our infographic explains just what they are and how to introduce mindfulness into your organisation.
Mindfulness? Pah. You don’t have time to sit around doing nothing. Or maybe you’ve read the research and you’re sold on the idea of mindfulness but you just can’t find the time. You’re not alone, this is something that we hear frequently at Positive Change Guru. So what can you do to make mindfulness part of your day? We’ve put together six painless but powerful practices to kick start your Mindfulness journey. We show you how to start where you are, adding mindfulness into your day with just a few minor tweaks.
Party hats on
Congratulations to Gill Thackray on receiving a first in her MSc in Mindfulness from Aberdeen University! Gill is PCG’s resident mindfulness expert and we’re all excited to celebrate her success.
You can contact Gill to discuss PCG’s range of mindfulness at work courses here.
What to look for when choosing a mindfulness teacher, course or coach
You’ve been interested in mindfulness for a while and decided to give it a try. It’s now time to find a course. But amidst all of the advertising and the hype, how do you know what to look for, from a mindfulness teacher, a course or a coach? Here’s our step by step guide to choosing the right mindfulness teacher for you.
- Committed to good practice? Is your prospective teacher committed to the UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teachers Good Practice Guidelines for teaching mindfulness? The UK Network was developed to promote good practice in teaching mindfulness. Teaching Mindfulness in the UK is unregulated and the Network is an attempt to address this. Qualified teachers who have demonstrated that they meet the UK Good Practice Guidelines for Mindfulness Based Teachers will be registered on the UK Network Listing https://www.mindfulness-network.org/listingspagenew.php This means that they have been verified as suitably trained, committed to continuous professional development, hold insurance and receive regular supervision.
- Your teacher has a regular Mindfulness Practice. You wouldn’t go to a gym and expect to find a personal trainer who had never exercised. You certainly wouldn’t choose them to show you how to train your body. The same is true of your mindfulness teacher. Training your brain is no different to training your body. It’s ok to ask them about their own practice, how long they’ve been meditating and whether they practice on a regular basis. Standard advice is that mindfulness teachers should have been practicing for at least two years before they teach others.
- Retreats. All teachers should have a regular daily practice and attend one retreat a year as a minimum. You need someone who has walked the path themselves before they can lead you.
- Do they have a qualification? Has your mindfulness teacher attended a Level 1 and Level 2 Mindfulness Teacher Training programme? Whilst this doesn’t demonstrate competence it does demonstrate a commitment to professional development. Ask them where they trained and who with. Find out about their credentials; who have they worked with? How many courses have they run? Solo or alone? Don’t feel bashful, a good teacher won’t mind answering your questions. It’s important that your teacher is following a framework when teaching, all of the research evidence is based upon courses led by qualified teachers delivering a structured Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programmes.
- Do they undertake regular supervision? It’s important that teachers have supervision on a regular basis. Your teacher should be able to tell you who their supervisor is and how often they meet. This is necessary for regular reflective practice as well as the safety of everyone involved.
- How do you ensure you’re up to date? All Mindfulness teachers should maintain continuous professional development in the form of workshops, peer evaluation and keeping up to date with the latest research. A teacher who has their own teachers recognises that we are all on a mindful journey, however long we’ve been practicing.
- Do they practice what they preach? Known as embodiment this simply means that they demonstrate mindfulness in the way they behave towards you and others. Look for someone who displays a consistency in actions and words. An authentic Mindfulness teacher will walk their talk. They’ll treat you with respect and compassion rather than use sessions as a platform for their own ego. Asking why they have chosen to teach Mindfulness and what motivates them to practice can provide valuable information.
Are they a good fit for you? Notice how you feel around your teacher. Listen to your intuition. Do they seem authentic? Do you feel that they have genuine humility and are there to serve you and others in the group? If it doesn’t feel right, find another teacher. Use your judgement, you’ll know when you find a teacher that is right for you.
We love to talk about all things mindful at Positive Change Guru. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke mindfulness at work training for your organisation.
Positive Change Guru’s Mindfulness at Work expert, Gill Thackray, is registered with the UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teachers Good Practice Guidelines for teaching mindfulness. She has also studied Mindfulness with Aberdeen University, Bangor University, Dr Patrizia Collard and Google’s SIYLI Programme. She is currently researching Mindfulness, Leadership and Compassion at Aberdeen University.
Our Step by Step Guide to Meditation
Maybe you’ve often thought about meditating but never really known where to start? Perhaps you’ve started and thought that it’s too difficult to continue? Or wondered if you’re doing it ‘properly’. Relax, meditation is easier than it sounds. You don’t need to sit on the floor cross-legged, tie yourself in impossible knots or cut yourself off from the rest of the world. Meditation is deceptively simple and something that you can practice any time, anywhere.
With the science backed benefits of regular meditation ranging from;
Positive effects on immune and brain function
Elevated levels of emotional intelligence
There are a whole host of reasons to set time aside each day and create your own Zen moments. But where to start? Look no further. We’ve created your very own step-by-step beginners guide to meditation.
Start where you are
Forming the habit of meditation can start right here, right now. If the thought of sitting down for half an hour everyday sends you into a cold sweat, you’re not alone. Start by making a commitment to a more achievable goal. 5 minutes is a great place to begin and you can build your meditation practice from there. And if 5 minutes sounds too long, start with 1 minute.
Most people tell themselves that they simply don’t have the time to meditate. The truth is we don’t have time not to. Think of meditation as a workout for your brain. The brain is a muscle like any other muscle in your body. You wouldn’t go to the gym once and expect to be match fit straight away. Meditation is the same, the more you practice the greater return on your time investment you’ll see. Once you start to notice the benefits you’ll naturally want to do more than 5 minutes.
Choose a time
For a formal meditation practice (one that you do sitting down everyday) it can help to choose a daily time and place to embed your new habit. Try and link it to something that you do everyday, waking up, a morning coffee, arriving into work first thing, perhaps your lunch break, getting home from work or just before you go to bed. Linking your new meditation practice to something that you already do will make it easier to create space for it within your day. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up, be kind to yourself and remember, tomorrow is another opportunity to practice.
Create your own meditation space
Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. It doesn’t need to be an entire room and you don’t need any special equipment. You can create your own meditation zone in a corner anywhere in your living space. If you prefer to meditate outdoors, try your favourite park or a green space where you can sit and relax. Wherever you choose, make sure it’s somewhere comfortable and right for you.
Rest easy, you don’t need to sit cross-legged to meditate. Whether you’re sitting on the floor or you choose to sit in a chair, there are some really simple rules when it comes to posture. Make sure that your spine is upright, allowing you to sit comfortably without being rigid. If you lean to one side or slump against a chair it’s easy to feel drowsy, lose focus or fall asleep. An upright posture will help you to remain focused. Your head should be slightly lowered, chin tucked in, with your shoulders back and relaxed. Use whatever you need to make yourself comfortable whether it’s leaning against a wall, using a specially designed meditation stool, stacking cushions to sit on or laying down on the floor. Listen to your body and allow it to act as your guide.
This is really down to personal preference. For some people it’s easier to meditate with their eyes open. For others, eyes half closed focusing on a single point in front of them works best. Others find it easier to meditate with their eyes completely closed. It’s different strokes for different folks and the best way to find out what works best for you is by trial and error.
Set an intention
Before you sit down to meditate it can be helpful to set an intention. Doing this for each meditation session can help to guide your practice. As Wayne Dyer said, “Our intention becomes our reality”. If you’re not clear on your intention ask yourself a few simple questions:
Is there something you’d like to explore?
What matters most to you about this particular practice?
What are you grateful for?
What is challenging for you?
What would you like to focus on?
Is there something that you would like to create or build in your life?
Think of your intention as a way of reminding yourself why you choose to meditate.
Now you’re ready to meditate. Relax. There’s nowhere to go and nothing to do. The beauty of meditation is that you’re not trying to achieve anything. There is no end goal. Forget your ‘To do’ list, this is the time for you to stop doing and start being.
The breath is a natural anchor to use when meditating. You’re not trying to change your breath, control it, or change it in any way. Simply notice the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. Perhaps the air feels a little cooler around the nostrils as you inhale? As you breathe out it may feel a little warmer around the nostrils, or you might feel a stream of warm air passing over your upper lip.
Observe the sensations in your body as you breathe in and out. Notice the rise and fall of your abdomen, the movement of your shoulders. If your mind wanders, congratulate yourself for noticing and bring your focus back to the breath. If you become distracted by thoughts, emotions or feelings, once, twice or ten times, it’s fine, just notice that you’re focus has drifted without beating yourself up. Gently bring your awareness back to your breath each time, noticing whatever is here, right now.
Formal or Informal?
For those times when you just can’t fit a formal sitting practice into your day, informal practice is the way to go. By performing these short, simple meditations you’ll still be building your meditation muscles and reaping the benefits.
The Traffic Light
This one is simple and takes just one minute. Think of what you do at a traffic light; STOP! You can do this sitting in your car every time you really are stopped by a red light, sitting at your desk or just sitting in your chair.
Stop: Stop what you are doing.
Pause for a moment.
Take a breath: Breathe, it’s easy, we do it all of the time, we just don’t think about it. Really notice how the breath feels entering your body and how it feels as you exhale. Concentrate your attention solely on your breath.
Observe: Now you’ve had that pause and breathed a little, how do you feel? What’s going on for you? What thoughts are popping into your head? How do you feel right here, right now in your body? Just notice, observe it without judging.
Proceed: Time to continue on your journey.
The one-minute breath
This is another technique that only takes a minute. Set your stopwatch, use one of the many meditation apps or sit in front of a clock and breathe for one minute. Your aim is to focus on your breath for one whole minute. Notice how the breath feels as it enters the nostrils, does it feel cool as you inhale? Or perhaps it’s a little warmer as you exhale? Notice how the breath feels travelling down your throat, filling your lungs and then leaving the body. That’s all you’re doing, focusing on your breath, using it as an anchor for an entire minute.
This is a mindfulness favourite. You can do it with chocolate, raisins, dinner, breakfast, anything you like as long as it’s edible. Get rid of distractions like the TV, newspaper, mobile phone, radio or conversation and sit down to eat, bringing your full attention to your food. Reflect on the following;
Where did it come from? How was it produced?
How does it smell, what colour is it? What are the textures like?
Chew slowly and really savour your meal. Finish chewing before you reload your fork. Notice how your food tastes. What is the consistency like? Really bring your awareness to each mouthful.
This is also a great technique if you are watching your weight, helping you to feel fuller for longer rather than wondering where that bar of chocolate went….
A mindful cup of tea.
It’s a simple task, but there’s a reason it’s a ritual in the Far East. Making (and of course drinking) tea can be a profoundly relaxing experience. Notice the weight of the kettle as you fill it with water, listen to the sound of the water as it runs from the tap, how the light bounces off the endless stream. Notice the sounds of the water in the kettle as it comes to the boil. Stay in the present as you prepare your cup and place the tea bag in it. Watch as you pour the boiling water onto the bag, notice the colour of the water change, how it floats as the steam swirls upwards. Then sit down and reward yourself as you notice the heat, the initial taste of the tea as you sip and then the flavours in the different parts of the mouth until you swallow.
The next time you’re walking, feel the ground under your feet, the weight shifting from one foot to the other, the stretch in your calves and thighs as you move forwards with each step. Perhaps notice how you breathe as you walk, or any changes in the body.
Really notice what’s going on around you. As you walk, observe the light, the sky, the clouds and the leaves in the trees.
Notice the buildings you pass, the architecture.
Who are your fellow pedestrians? How do they move?
Remain in the present moment as you head towards your destination. Bring your attention to the wind on your face, how the sun feels as it shines down, the temperature on your skin, how it feels to move your whole body. Notice how you feel when you finally arrive at your destination.
Now you’re ready. With just a few simple practices you’ll begin to notice that you can easily and skillfully introduce meditation into your everyday life. The great thing about meditation is that you can use it any place, anytime, anywhere. Practiced on a regular basis, you’ll see that meditation can improve both your mental and your physical health, offering a great return on investment for a few just a few minutes of your time each day. So what are you waiting for?
We love to talk about all things mindful at Positive Change Guru. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke mindfulness training for your organisation.
In an attention deficit culture we’re distracted 46.9% of the time
It’s all too familiar, you arrive into work, the phone is ringing, your emails are mounting up at a rate of knots, you’re due in a meeting, an unwelcome alert lets you know someone has sent you a text and you haven’t even taken your coat off yet. It’s a typical day in thousands of offices, schools and businesses across the country. No wonder then that research by Gilbert and Killingworth reveals that we are distracted on average 46.9 percent of the time. And if we’re distracted, we’re not focusing, if we’re not focusing we’re not in ‘flow’ the optimum state of performance. Worst still, we’re probably more than just a bit stressed.
Are you working in an attention deficit culture?
Edward Hallowell in his HBR article has named the phenomenon ‘attention deficit trait’ or ADT for short. ADT stands accused of turning us into ‘frenzied zombies’ overstretched, constantly, in doing mode and unable to switch off. Look around you, are you in an organizational culture that supports your membership of the living dead? If you can answer yes to one or more the following questions, you might be experiencing ADT:
- Do you constantly check emails throughout the day?
- When you get home do you catch up with work and email colleagues late into the night?
- Do you see a 3am email as a measure of commitment to the cause?
- Do you eat your lunch at your desk?
- Do you respond to texts as soon as they arrive?
- Do you feel as though nothing gets your full attention?
- Do you feel out of control?
- Are you reading these questions thinking ‘Doesn’t everybody do that?’ (Clue: the answer is in the title)
So you noticed a few (or a lot) of ‘Yes’ answers? The truth is you may be working in a culture where ADT has become normalized. You’re not crazy and neither are your colleagues (honestly) you’re working in a global culture of neuro – overload and ever increasing environmental pressures. Hallowell makes the analogy of a traffic jam, ADT is part of modern living. But how can you minimize those distractions or create your own internal culture of calm?
Creating your own internal culture of calm
- Create a support network both at work and outside of it. Daniel Goleman’s research suggests that women are more likely than men to do this, so it’s vitally important that we all have a network of friends and colleagues to talk to and let off steam with.
- Consider your sleep hygiene. A good night’s sleep is key, sleep deprivation exacerbates ADT. Start to wind down an hour before bedtime, relaxing or taking a bath. Switch off your phone, emails and gadgets at this point.
- Diet and exercise (obvious, but true) Get those endorphins pumping along with serotonin and dopamine to promote brain cell health.
- Organisae yourself and keep your work space clear.
- When you feel the pressure mounting, take a moment of mindfulness. Stop. Take a breath and observe how you are feeling in your body, observe any sensations of warmth or coolness. Notice (without judgement) any thoughts that pop into your head, And when you feel ready, crack on with your day.
Find out more:
We love to talk about all things focus related at Positive Change Guru. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke focus training for your organisation.