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Mindfulness: Clear the noise and focus

Mindfulness is about being present, in the moment. In a fast paced world, mindfulness helps clear your mind of clutter, focus on what is important, and be at your most creative and resourceful. Leaders like Steve Jobs are well known for using mindfulness to be at their best

As the pace of daily life gets faster and faster, we face so many distractions. This makes it harder to focus when we most need to. Mindfulness is a powerful way to clear your mind, pay attention to what is important and use your energy where you need it.

Benefits of mindfulness: early research suggests benefits including…

  • More resilience and decreased stress levels
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Improved employee productivity
  • Increased creativity, innovation and problem solving
  • Increased strategic thinking and focus
  • Improved relationships
Neuroscientists have shown that practicing mindfulness affects brain areas related to perception, body awareness, pain tolerance, emotion regulation, introspection, complex thinking, and sense of self. While more research is needed to document these changes over time and to understand underlying mechanisms, the converging evidence is compelling.
Harvard Business Review quote

Key elements of mindfulness

Here are some suggestions for how to practice mindfulness:

  • No judgement - your mind naturally likes to judge things. Being mindful is about stepping back and being aware of what is going on right now without judgement.
  • Patience - watch and let things unfold. This helps us understand more about what is going on before we decide what to do next.
  • Beginner’s mind - look at what is going on as if it’s the first time you have seen it. This helps find new ways to understand things, without your mind already made up.
  • Trust - trust yourself and pay attention to your ‘gut feelings’. These often tell you something important about what is going on.
  • Acceptance - accept things as they are, be aware and face facts.
  • Pause - stop and smell the roses! Allow yourself time to rest and have fun.
  • Let go - holding on to things drains your energy. Let go of things and be open to new possibilities.

Daily mindfulness practice

The best way to be more mindful is to start some daily mindfulness practices. Here are some ideas to try out:

  • Pick an activity that you do most days or every day, such as eating breakfast. Choose something you have to do anyway, but set the intention to be mindful when doing this activity.
  • Pay attention to the present moment. Don’t think of the past or future. Notice what is going on right now. Be curious and explore what you notice.
  • Your mind will wander off – that’s fine, that’s what minds do. When that happens, gently bring your thoughts back to whatever it is you’re doing and congratulate yourself for noticing your mind has wandered.
  • You may find you really enjoy this time; it’s a chance to press the pause button. You might notice more about what it is you are doing in that moment. Or you might find ‘unpleasant’ feelings like boredom. Whatever comes up, just notice it. Explore it then let it go and move on.

Nine everyday mindful moments

Do nothing and just focus full awareness on the moment unfolding when:

1. Waking up from sleep, first thing in the morning

2. Sipping a cup of tea

3. Watching a bird in flight

4. Drinking a glass of water

5. Having a home-cooked meal

6. Listening to music and to the silence between the sounds

7. Tasting a new food

8. Noticing someone smile

9. Being in the company of someone you love