Updated: May 19, 2021
You’ve had a tough 12 months. Who hasn’t at this point? Looking back on the year that was 2020, it’s no wonder why so many professionals around the world are experiencing burnout at rates we haven’t seen in our lifetime.
To put it into perspective, we’ve seen a staggering 30% increase in the number of burnout cases, and this is only going to continue to climb.
We all want to do better and be better. The discrepancies between those who were seemingly more financially prepared for the pandemic and the lockdowns which ensued, and those who weren’t, became painfully obvious as the months rolled on.
Look, none of us asked for this, and none of us can claim that we were significantly prepared for the financial fallout. What I can tell you is this; if you want to be prepared for the many setbacks that life is going to throw your way, and if you want to be able to rise above it, you need to be able to take care of your mental state before anything else.
If you want to reach a place of financial stability that comes with performing at your optimal levels in career and business, then you need to focus some of that drive and dedication towards your wellbeing.
I’ve spoken about Mindfulness & Meditation before, and I will continue to do so because it has been scientifically proven to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Not only that, but studies have shown that professionals who engage in some form of mindfulness meditation are more adept to acquiring the level of success that they desire, and that they are more likely to feel a sense of fulfilment in the workplace.
We all have this idea that the more successful we become, the happier we will be; but this thinking is just putting the cart before the horse. In order for you to be more successful, you need to be happier. Happiness breeds success, not the other way around. You see, we all seem to be in this constant pursuit of the next big thing in our lives; the next big win or big moment, but what we fail to realise is that we literally manifest that which we already are.
Hear me out for a second. Have you ever been feeling so down, that no amount of good news could lift you up out of it?
How about this. Have you ever been feeling so stressed out that the thought of a prospective client actually created more tension for you than joy?
Think long and hard about it. Then think back to a time when you would have killed to have even just one of the clients you’re juggling right now. You see, this is what burnout does to you. It clouds your vision and your better judgement. It makes you feel as though all of your opportunities are actually obstacles which are in the way of your rest and relaxation.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Mindfulness meditation allows you transcend all of the noise and chaos going on around you, and have a moment of silence that is just for yourself.
This is no small feat at the moment. Between home-schooling the kids or running this week’s carpool drop offs, and having to juggle a million and one tasks at work, to all of the other routine tasks we have to deal with on a daily basis; picking up the dry cleaning, planning dinner, or whatever else it may be, we are all just so tired.
Throw in the constant sanitizing of everything, remembering not to touch our faces, or certain surfaces and remembering that blasted mask on the way out the door; and we’re exhausted. Exhausted doesn’t even seem to fit the bill anymore; we’re burnt out, we’re drained, and we’re just trying to make it through this week – every week!
Take a moment and embark on a journey with me and enjoy a little reprieve in the midst of our daily chaos. In fact, I invite you to find a way to shift it from being chaotic, to being fulfilling. If you don’t, everything else that you’ve been trying to achieve is going to fall away.
You are not going to be performing at your best; not at home and most certainly not at work. You don’t want to become so frazzled about deadlines, that the reason you end up missing one of your biggest deadlines is because you’ve been booked into the hospital with symptoms of a mild stroke – or worse.
Now that I’ve got your full attention, let’s unravel mindfulness meditation, who popularized it, and how we can use it in our own lives to achieve peak performance.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is known as the father of Mindfulness Meditation. A chance encounter with Philip Kapleu, a known Zen ‘missionary’, during his time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology would spark a deep longing to learn more about the process. He would go on to study meditation with well-known Buddhist Thích Nhất Hạnh and revolutionize the idea of meditation for peak performance in all arenas of our lives.
While most of us won’t be making any pilgrimages to the East any time soon, there are ways that you can incorporate mindfulness meditation into your life here and now. According to Emily Wise Miller, for Live Happy, there are 6 steps that you can take right now to start your journey towards a calmer, more mindful you.
1. Find a Comfortable Spot
In your lunch break, or at home while the little ones are asleep, retreat to a place where you won’t be disturbed; your office, the break room, or the living room. Wherever you are, get comfy.
2. Assume the Position
Meditation isn’t a ‘one size fits’ all process, so find a position that works for you. You could try the conventional method of sitting upright and cross legged. If your back has been killing you lately from those long hours in an office chair, don’t sweat it; have a lie down on the floor instead. Remember, the goal is to be as comfortable as possible.
3. Relaxation Time
If you’re just starting out, Miller recommends setting a timer for just 5 minutes. Close your eyes and start your journey off by taking a few deep breaths. Breath in as deeply and as naturally through your nose, and out through your mouth. Allow the breaths to flow downward, through your abdominal region.
4. Become Aware
Focus on your breathing. Pay attention to the sound as you inhale and as you exhale. Cultivate the notion that as you breath in, you are breathing all that is good, peaceful and joyful to you. As you breathe out, imagine that you are breathing out every piece of negativity and toxicity in your life right now. Go into a trance under the sounds of your rhythmic breathing.
5. Centre your Mind
Since you’re just starting out, you need to be aware that your mind will wander. You’re not a Buddhist monk, just yet. It’s perfectly natural. Whatever you do, don’t start to feed into your thoughts. Don’t get down on yourself for allowing them in. Acknowledge them, and refocus. Focus on what you can hear around you. Focus on what you can feel in your physical self, and keep some semblance of focus on your breathing. It’s all about being present in this very moment. No thoughts of past or future; only what you hear and feel right now.
6. Commit Yourself to the Process
You’re not going to feel like roses immediately. This requires practice; like anything else in life. Try to commit to practicing this basic form of mindfulness at least once a day, for at least 5 minutes a day.
I’d like to hear all about your journey into mindfulness.
How has the pandemic impacted your mental wellbeing? How has it impacted your ability to achieve restful sleep? Let me know in the comments, and happy meditating!