Living in this day and age I’m finding myself increasingly interested in ways of becoming more self aware and of experiencing life in greater technicolour. In Conscious Cafe I have found a community with similar interests and get to reap the benefits of learning and growing with likeminded people from all walks of life. It’s quite insightful to learn how the qualities of a mindful approach can play out in publishing, luxury hotels, supermarkets, branding, coaching…The list is endless.
May we thank John for permission to share his recent article, posted on LinkedIn here.
Over the last 7 years, through ups, down, fears and joys, through the rollercoaster called "Life", I’ve been really drawn to mindfulness.
"Mindfulness", "meditation", "self-awareness": these are relatively unusual terms and consequently can have different meanings and associations for each person.
For me mindfulness simply means intentionally bringing some curiosity to the experience in hand. This can be a work meeting, family banter, a boxing fight or a walk in the park. By attending more clearly to what is happening, bringing some awareness to the thoughts, emotions and body sensations playing out moment by moment, it is possible to gain a better understanding of how this "John Danias" experiences life and consequently take wiser actions.
So, it’s about improving my confidence at work, interaction with my kid, reflexes when sparring, in fact anything that I am working on.
During meetings I notice the acute desire to get my point across generates some anxiety and clouds the mind. And I have no doubt that my nervousness, however subtle, gets communicated to some degree. Using some specific observation-based techniques I can notice the process playing about (‘metacognition’ in scientific terms): mild tension on my shoulders just by the neck, slight straining in the eyes, shallow breathing and a charged internal dialogue questioning if it’s the right time to interject. Recognising these signs, I initiate a subtle breathing exercise whilst continuing to attend to the meeting. And gradually the possibility opens up for the tension to dissipate, the meeting being experienced with greater clarity, the point being put across with greater refinement and when not speaking, to just sit back and watch the show.
Clear, assertive communication, free from overthinking and second-guessing, is something I need to cultivate. The science of neuroplasticity adheres to the ability of training the mind through repetition. Consequently, every skilful communication, irrespective of the context, can improve my communication at work. Then why not practice at the grocer’s too? Why not with my family?
I’m going back home feeling a bit down. When I tell my wife how I feel my instinctive reaction will be to highlight that it’s not a problem and reassure her. This time I will try an experiment. I will put aside my overthinking and will simply state it clearly and with presence. I will not quantify the ‘low’, and I will not add the habitual “but it will be okay”. Let’s see.
“I’m feeling low”.
The response is amazing: acceptance and support. So nice to feel supported, so reassuring. We’ve empowered each other through vulnerability – I will remember this lesson.
Why am I writing this article?
There is an incredible wealth of interesting techniques to cultivate a more mindful state. Whilst I have explored a multitude, I have only touched the surface. They are becoming increasingly sophisticated and can be tailored to our aims, lifestyle and personalities. Surgically precise meditation exercises can improve our faculty of attention and response. A technique called 'Wim Hof Method*' can enable us to voluntarily activate the autonomic nervous system.
Each one of us will embrace 'mind training**' at some point. Now, in a year, in ten? I wonder...
I love talking about mindfulness. I love communicating what I’m learning from this practice and exchanging ideas. Every communication is my nourishment. When you’re interested, when you’re ready, please get in touch. Let’s help each other to grow.
* Link to scientific article here.
** Mind is defined as ‘the faculty of consciousness and thought’.
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