I wrote the following for the Florida Public Relations Association Orlando Area Chapter in January as part of a “fresh start to the new year” series the chapter was publishing on its social channels.
Now, we are well into February and approaching March at a healthy pace. It’s easy for those wellness goals that seemed so clear in January to get lost in the blur of weeks. So, here are my suggestions on approaching a mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness and meditation have been getting a lot of attention in recent years as ways and strategies to work through stress, anxiety and overwhelm. A regular mindfulness practice can also build the skills of clarity, concentration and equanimity (based on the Unified Mindfulness system of mindfulness techniques).
Each of the three core mindfulness skills helps us to get clear about what our experience is as it’s unfolding in the moment (clarity), allows us to choose where to focus or place our attention through our experience (concentration) and strengthens our ability to be present to good and negative experiences without getting either stuck in or resistant to those experiences (equanimity).
Through mindfulness and meditation, we learn to ride the wave of energy that is flowing through our experiences from moment to moment, knowing that everything is constantly changing. We become more present, allowing us to have a deeper awareness of ourselves and others so that we can purposely choose how we want to be or react in any given situation.
These mindfulness skills are valuable for leaders and practitioners in the field of public relations and communications. A mindfulness practice becomes a strategy for approaching our work and relationships with a clearer lens of observation and insight in order to make decisions and find solutions beyond the impulse of judgement and emotion.
Here are some suggestions on how to approach a mindfulness practice.
- Choose a time and location each day to practice mindfulness through formal meditation (sitting in meditation for ten minutes or longer).
- Don’t worry if you can’t shut your mind off while meditating. This is normal and happens to people who have been meditating for years.
- The goal is not to shut your mind off when meditating. The real goal is to be present to your experience in the moment by coming back to your object of focus (a feeling, word or your breath) each time you become aware of your thoughts while meditating.
- Read books that can gently guide you into the practice of mindfulness and meditation. Three of my favorites are: “Mindfulness for Beginners” by Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Mind Your Life: How Mindfulness Can Build Resilience and Reveal Your Extraordinary” by Meg Salter and “How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends With Your Mind” by Pema Chodron.
- Be open to discovering that mindfulness can be practiced beyond the meditation cushion and utilized in daily life activities, including during work meetings, exercising, washing the laundry and standing in line at the grocery story.
- Explore different mindfulness apps to find meditation techniques that work for you.