A World in Transition: Insights from Transition Hub - Mindfulness: A Life Skill
Why have I spent the last 10 years as an Executive Coach introducing mindfulness skills to my clients and encouraging the practice? Because I am living proof this life skill can be learnt and has a big impact on our wellbeing!
I was first introduced to mindfulness practice a decade ago while studying positive psychology. Initially, my response to the concept was conflicted. On the one hand, I had tried yoga over the years and hadn’t particularly enjoyed it – I was a gym junky and impatient with the pace of this ancient practice. On the other hand, I was a high-achieving student committed to embracing all that my mature age learning experience had to offer. Fortunately, the latter had greater gravitational pull!
With a wealth of information available today on mindfulness – scientific research, the benefits, the how to, and support mechanisms such as classes and apps – here, my intention is not to go there, but rather to offer my voice of encouragement.
When we experience stress, anxiety, pressure and uncertainty, which can often be heightened during times of transition, we tend to be more reactive, rather than responsive – it is the natural human way to deal with a perceived threat. But there is another way. To quote the wise Viktor Frankl, “between stimulus and response lies the freedom to choose.”
In brief, practicing mindfulness creates the space to better manage our thoughts and choose our subsequent responses – behaviours and actions that are helpful and constructive.
When I experience stressors, I focus on breathing mindfully, slowly and deeply. As a result, the adrenaline subsides, I become more present, and my thinking becomes clearer, more focused and constructive. Sounds simple, but in fact, it is one of the hardest things to do. It’s only through consistent practice that we develop the ability to tap into a mindful state when we find ourselves in challenging situations. Just as exercising consistently maintains our physical fitness, so it is with our mental fitness - practice, practice, practice!
So, how do I respond to clients who say, “I’m not into that sort of thing”, “my mind is too busy to meditate”, “I don’t have time”, “I’m so tired, I fall asleep when I try?” Etc.
Answer: Would you be willing to try a personal experiment? If yes, then download an app and commit to doing a guided mindful practice for 5 mins a day for one month.
Choose an app that appeals to you, the voice, the context etc. Resist the urge to judge whether you are doing it right, or wrong. Don’t concern yourself with thoughts and feelings that will inevitably arise – just notice them and let them pass by. If you miss a day, don’t give yourself a hard time, or give up. Just do it the next day – see what happens. Ask yourself, how do I feel at the end of the experiment, compared to the beginning of it? What benefits do I feel?
For me, a decade on, amongst other things, I feel calmer internally, I'm more present, I feel more confident, I’m better at not sweating the small stuff, my decision-making is more effective – good result!
The benefit of having mindfulness skills in our repertoire cannot be underestimated. At Transition Hub, we put strong emphasis on holistic wellbeing and participants have plenty of opportunity to learn and engage with mindful practices.
So, as we all navigate the myriad of stressors the past few months have placed upon us, I invite you to consider my experiment. Just 5 mins a day to a calmer, more centred life. Worth a try?
Coach & author bio: Karen Wallace is a senior Transition Hub coach and is passionate about ensuring we all find purpose and fulfillment in our life and work. She brings extensive experience as an executive coach and facilitator in the areas of personal brand, interpersonal expertise, communication skills and wellbeing.