The human brain is a pretty amazing organ when you stop and think about it.
My father had a stroke earlier this year, and watching his recovery makes me realise how resilient the brain is. Just after the clot in his brain was removed, the doctors explained that any brain cells that were ‘squashed’ by the clot will pull themselves back into shape and begin to work again. Other cells may have been destroyed by the bleed, and here, new neuro pathways will slowly form, helped by the physiotherapy that is part of his recovery plan.
Since the stroke, my dad’s speech and thought are much slower than they used to be. Things that he did before without thinking - such as moving his leg to walk - now require considerable thought and a lot of effort. Walking just a few steps can result in the need for a nap, so his brain can rest.
All of this goes to show how quickly a healthy brain really does work – most of it unnoticed by us as we go about our day-to-day lives, and to some extent taken for granted.
But what happens if your brain works too quickly, and how does that affect your personal resilience? In today’s fast-paced life we rush about, trying to get everything on our ‘to do’ lists done. Have you ever been working on one task, but also thinking about the next 3 tasks on your to do list? What happens when something else is added to your list out of the blue - how well do you cope?
This is probably why mindfulness is such a hot topic at the moment. We are all looking for a way to slow down and take a breath. We are craving what we need, but most of us don’t have the time or money to go on a retreat. We have to find a way to fit mindfulness into a busy working day.
Here are five ways that I have come across that might help you fit some mindfulness into your working day:
- Do it on the commute
Headspace, set up by Andy Puddicombe has made a selection of meditations available on SoundCloud. Possibly not for those who commute by car, but for anyone else who walks or take the bus or train, the Headspace commute mediation might prove to be a mindful way to start (or finish) the working day.
- Have a cup of tea
This is another headspace mediation, also on SoundCloud. ‘Headspace on…Tea’ involves making a cup of tea (or coffee!) mindfully, as guided by Andy. The track is less than 3.5 minutes long and, as it suggests, you use the time it takes to make a cuppa as a ‘mini moment of mindfulness’.
- Go for a walk during your lunch break
If you eat your lunch at your desk, try to get away from the screen and out of the office for some fresh air, if only for 10 minutes. If you are having a stressful morning, the walk could give you the breather you need. A walk may also give you a fresh perspective on that problem that’s been bothering you. To learn how to mediate whilst walking, take a look at this article by Mindful magazine.
- Doodle or… Zentangle®
Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas created Zentangle® following a conversation they had. Maria is a calligrapher and she was describing to Rick how she felt when she was working on a document, and he noticed that it was very similar to meditation. Zentangle® is a meditational art form and all you need is a piece of paper and a pen. You don’t even have to be creative or good at drawing because you use repetitive patterns to fill in the spaces in the Zentangle®.
- Buddha Doodle
If you keep forgetting to take those 5 minutes to be mindful, what about having an inspirational reminder land in your inbox? If you sign up for Buddha Doodle you can receive a daily email which consists of one of Molly Hahn’s cheerful cartoons, which you can use to remind yourself to pause and be mindful for a few moments.
If you are new to mindfulness and aren’t sure where to start, I would recommend reading ‘Quiet the Mind’ by Matthew Johnstone. Besides the brilliant illustrations, it’s a really good book for getting started with mindfulness.
Teresa Lovell, Design Specialist, Bray Leino Learning
Teresa creates all our infographics for us and they cover a wide range of topics. In her blogs she not only gives tips on software and design, but she also discusses other topics that catch her eye and she hopes you find them interesting.
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