Are you mindful?
Recently, there has been a huge focus on the word mindfulness.
Why is it such a big deal? Is it really that useful or is it just another one of those hippie, healthy fads from California that will come and go?
Here’s Olive Branch’s take on mindfulness.
It’s a superpower. Except that it isn’t a modern thing. It’s been around for ages as described in the earliest literatures of Buddhism, which existed approximately 5th-1st century BC!
Why is it a superpower?
Consider this scenario. You’re in the elevator with your client and as the door opens for you and your client to walk out, a man waiting to get in charges in and pushes past you before you even get a chance to exit the lift.
How many of you have had this happen to you? How do you feel? Perhaps your temper starts to rise, your ears turn red, and maybe you shove him back, or you curse at him. How do you feel about the whole situation then?
Perhaps you’re still fuming, annoyed, or even a little embarrassed that your client caught you losing your temper.
Maybe even minutes after the incident, you’re mind is still playing out all the different actions you would’ve taken if just given another chance to reenact what just transpired.
While rehearsing all the vengeful actions you could’ve come back with is not all that harmful, you’ve lost yet another opportunity to build rapport with your client and to discuss more productive topics.
Not the best image you wanted to portray to your client, is it?
You realize you just made an ass out of yourself and your client is probably thinking how childish you are. You scream inside your head: “This meeting is going horrible!”
You begin to sweat, and your shirt begins to show dark patches on your chest and under your armpits.
Again, you sound off in your head: “This is the worst day of my life!”
What a snowballing nightmare that turned out to be! And this scenario is not an exaggeration by any means; it happens very often! You just don’t realize it – and that’s part of the problem!
Let’s rewind back to the the point of the incident and see what would happen if you were a bit more mindful.
He shoves past you. Your body temperature goes up and your ears begin to glow red. But then you actually feel your body and ears getting warmer. “What’s going on with my body?”, you ask yourself.
You quickly realize that your body has just been thrown into fight-or-flight mode and that you’re getting angry and aggressive.
You also quickly remember that your client is standing right next to you.
You ask yourself the question: “What is the appropriate behaviour for this situation?”
You brush it off by re-directing your attention as you finish off your sentence on the advantages of your company’s proposal.
Being mindful is a superpower because it gives you a buffer to analyze your thoughts and emotions before taking action.
When you have this space to analyze and decide what to do next, you’re not longer impulsive. You make rational decisions to further your betterment instead of being held hostage by your easily-triggered emotions.
This ability not only benefits you professionally, but also personally.
In the above scenario, just replace the client with your children. What kind of a role model would you be for your kids? They are watching you and will learn from your every behaviour.
So what does all this have to do with fitness and well-being?
By being mindful and keeping your negative emotions in check, you not only behave more appropriately, but you reduce the stress in your life.
What happens when your body enters fight-or-flight mode? Your body produces adrenaline which supercharges the heart and muscles for action, but you also start producing more cortisol which is the stress hormone. Consistent high-levels of cortisol can wreak havoc through out the body by way of inflammation. Your heart rate and blood glucose go up, and your immune system gets suppressed.
In the case where something bad actually does happen to you, being mindful allows you to recover from the incident all the more quicker.
Alright, so being mindful has its perks. How do I become more mindful?
Stay tuned for more on next week’s installment on developing your mindfulness muscle!