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« How to Create Simple Habits and Daring Possibilities | What Are Today's Interesting Finds? - v7 »
Tuesday
Oct062015

Powerful Influence of Mindfulness on Possibility Thinking

There is definitely a mindfulness theme that runs throughout my writing. My creative process includes having a heightened awareness of daily experiences, which is one strategy for fostering mindfulness. I recently learned that one of the many benefits of being mindful is that your thoughts become less cluttered so that you are more open to new ideas, challenges, and possibility thinking.

Last week, I attended a wonderful ICD teleclass about mindfulness and productivity, developed and presented by productivity coach, Casey Moore. There are many mindfulness definitions. Casey shared one definition that included three basic mindfulness elements.

 

Mindfulness is “paying attention purposefully and non-judgmentally in the present moment.”


During the teleclass, Casey talked about the benefits of practicing mindfulness. The list was long and included improving relationships, decreasing anxiety, improving mood, deepening self-awareness, increasing concentration, boosting attentiveness, lowering high blood pressure, reducing chronic pain, making better decisions, and regulating the fear response.

There were several mindfulness techniques that she shared that focused on intentional breathing and counting. I’ve been experimenting with adding one the breathing exercises into my daily habits. As an added benefit, I’ve used the technique outside by our local rivers. Being surrounded by nature while breathing mindfully was especially beneficial for me. I felt calmer, more connected and grounded.

With a more open, less cluttered mind, what becomes possible? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation.

 

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (26)

This is a fascinating topic, Linda. I took that ICD class also was struck by the many health benefits of practicing mindfulness. I have been incorporating this practice into some of my other habits - like walking my dogs. We three go for an early (before dawn) morning walk. I find that keeping my mind focused on the walk, not letting my mind wander to the rest of my day - how I plan to make my 'to do' list done - refreshes me and helps me to bring focused energy to my tasks when we return home.

October 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

My "word of the year" 2014 was mindfulness. It not only made me more deeply aware of my energy, my thoughts and my actions, it brought me many reality checks both positive and not so positive. I have made mindfulness more of a habit this year because of this. It can make all the difference in your daily life and over the long term.

October 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

I agree with all that has been said above. I got so much out of that class, and I've immediately started "spreading the gospel" with my clients. Kudos to Casey and ICD for running it just when we needed to hear it/be reminded of it!

October 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGayle Gruenberg

Mindfulness is the antithesis to the cultural worship of multi-tasking! Anyone who struggles with remembering names, forgetting appointments, or losing items can change their lives by cultivating singularity of focus, stillness, and intentionality. I love to use breathing to regain focus, often shutting my eyes. I like to give people permission to deal with one thing at a time, and let the worries cue up and wait their turn.

October 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Diane- Another great ICD teleclass! I'm so glad you enjoyed it too. Like you, I also was surprised by the many benefits, especially the health benefits that are possible through mindfulness practice. I can see you taking your pre-dawn walk, a peaceful time with your four-legged friends. The ongoing benefit you receive of focus and energy by incorporating mindfulness into the beginning of your day is wonderful.

@Ellen- That's awesome that you chose "mindfulness" as you word for 2014…and that by bringing that awareness to your days, the practice has become a habit. One of the interesting things that Casey mentioned in her teleclass is that when mindfulness becomes a habit, we have to readjust our awareness to bring it back to the forefront. This is because our habits can become "mindless," as we start doing things automatically. With mindfulness we need a certain level of intention and awareness. Interesting, isn't it? By the way, what is your word for 2015?

October 6, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Gayle- What I loved so much about what Casey shared is the do-ability of mindfulness practice. There isn't just one way, but many strategies…all very flexible and with obvious benefits for ourselves, our family and our clients. I'm in 100% agreement that this was a great ICD teleclass, well-timed, and a very important topic.

@Seana- Wow! Thank you for making that connection between mindfulness and multi-tasking. Our brains were not designed to multi-task, yet the pressures of 21st century life seem to demand that of us more and more. Using mindfulness as "the cure" is one possible perspective to adopt. I like how you encourage singular focus to those around you. Way to go, Seana!

October 6, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I got a chance to go to a coaches conference in DC (CCC2015) this weekend where mindfulness was front and center. In one session about neuroscience and mindfulness I learned that it is possible to actually increase gray matter density with deliberate mindfulness practices. The hippocampus, central to memory function, can actually grow in response to meditation!
So there is a physiological connection to the feeling of possibility we have with a less cluttered brain.
Authors of this study also found improved executive function and emotion regulation.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/

Thanks Linda and Casey!

October 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCameron Gott

@Cam- Amazing! And what an interesting coincidence that mindfulness was the "big" topic at your coaches conference. The connection is so clear being that both being a coach and being coached requires presence, awareness, and mindfulness. One of the other benefits Casey spoke about (also tied to coaching) was that mindfulness deepens our ability for self-awareness.

Thank you for sharing about the physiological research (and link) around mindfulness, focus, memory and emotion. Great addition to our conversation.

October 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Hi Linda, I normally attend recorded ICD classes because the time they're set I'm commuting, anyway I'll look forward to take this one. Sometime ago I read that depression is having excess of the past meanwhile anxiety is having excess of the future. To me the most important thing is being here and now, and although mindfulness is new to me I became more aware of having it so I can gain strength in joying the present moment, no matter what happens next or what happened a moment ago.
Thank you for sharing.

October 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

Another great post Linda. Interestingly, my personal 'word for the year' 2015 is mindfulness! For me being mindful is about being in the present...it's about being still and listening to the still voice within...and in some respects without also. It's truly 'living' the moments instead of letting them pass you by!

Choosing to deliberately become more mindful this year has a deeper, more personal meaning. I've arrived at an 'age and stage' of life - a cross-roads of sorts - where I've been alerted to pay better attention to what roads I choose ahead, and what I want my journey(s) to be like; to experience. In order to accomplish this I must remain 'mindfully' still so I can listen, hear, and follow accordingly. And yes to Casey...far less stress in making errors, and a far less cluttered mind as well.

Thank you for posting this topic Linda, and also to all those who responded. Its been personally encouraging and validated my 2015 mantra.

October 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSheila Delson, CPO-CD

@Nacho- I know that Casey's teleclass will resonate with you. I'd love to hear your thoughts after you listen to it. I love how you've expressed that to you mindfulness practice gives you the "strength" to enjoy the present moment. Just beautiful.

@Sheila- How interesting that your word this year and Ellen's last year was "mindfulness." Being present is a gift as it's all that we really have. Our past can inform us, our future can inspire us, but the present is where we live. And if our minds are always racing, we miss living. Thank you for sharing and trusting thoughts about this part of your journey with us. You are such a great listener and I know you will hear the essentials for choosing your path.

October 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda, I learned about mindfulness when I needed to lose some weight and went to a registered dietician and one of her mantras was mindfulness. I always keep that in mind when I am making dietary decisions. I think I have also mentioned before that I am a breath holder and being mindful of that is very hard for me, I would love to know more about intentional breathing.

October 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

@Jill- What a unique way to practice mindfulness. I may try that the next time I want to reach for a less than healthy snack. I remember you mentioning before that you are a "breath holder." The "Navy Seals 4" mindfulness practice that Casey shared went like this:

Breath in (4 counts)
Hold breath (4 counts
Exhale (4 counts)
Hold breath (4 counts)

This is the practice I've been doing in the last few days, paying attention to the counting, the breathing, the clarity felt after repeating this over and over. If you try it, I'd love to know about your experience.

October 6, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love this conversation! Mindfulness seems like such an obvious thing to do because the benefits are so clear. Still, as my practice develops, I've become very mindful of all the reasons I'm often mentally not present. Uncomfortable emotions, impatience, fear of addressing issues, the stimulation of media/technology...they lure me into daydreams, distractions and avoidance. No wonder our clients, especially those with ADD, find mindfulness challenging or even impossible. Every time I pause, breathe and focus on the present moment is, therefore, a success to me. And lately I've found that I'm learning to tolerate discomfort. Not just tolerate it but actually lean into it and breathe through it. Every time, I find "it" is bearable. More than bearable. Moving into it instead of from it leaves me feeling more whole and nurtured than before.

October 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCasey Moore

I tell my clients to be present and mindful of everything they do, where things go and what items represent in their lives. Not many people look at what items represent to them. As a PO, we have the responsibility to help clients look at the whys. There's always a reason. Thanks for sharing your experience with this teleclass. It sounds like you benefited from it.

October 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

@Casey- As you were the catalyst for this conversation, I'm so happy that you jumped in to join us. One of the biggest gifts we give to our clients is being present, being there 100% for them- listening, supporting, asking enough of the right questions so they can find their solutions or answers. Yet as you said, it's easy to be distracted for so many reasons. One of the most interesting aspects of practicing mindfulness is that we can reset at any moment…permitting ourselves to go from distraction to purposeful focus. And as you said, this can be done in many simple ways. It's a mindfulness dance. Thank you for inspiring this wonderful conversation that's resonating with so many.

@Sabrina- Casey's telecalss was fantastic! An eye-opener. I don't know if you're an ICD subscriber, but one of the many subscriber benefits is being able to listen to recorded teleclasses. If you are an ICD Subscriber, I highly recommend listening to the recording of Casey's class when it comes out.

It's an interesting approach you mentioned about telling you clients to be present and mindful. I'm curious how that works? I'd love to hear more.

October 8, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Mindfulness is not something that comes easily to me. I've attempted meditation, but it's next to impossible for me to switch off my brain. I've been working on focusing on one thing at a time so I'm not distracted by bright shiny objects. For example, over the last couple of months I've been working on my Planning a Website the Organized Way series and applying the concepts to my own site. During this time, my reading and learning activities have been geared towards that, so even though other interesting webinars and such have caught my eye, I've chosen to skip them (for now at least).

October 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Janet- One of the things that Casey spoke about during her teleclass was how challenging it is in this day and age to be mindful. There are SO many distractions, dings, and interruptions from many sources. Spending a lot of time in front of a computer makes it even more challenging to "switch off." But the other aspect of mindfulness that Casey pointed out is not that we're being mindless, as in turning off our thoughts, we are being mindful of the thoughts we are having or the actions we are taking. So there are different ways to practice mindfulness. Some involve breathing and focusing on a single image, thought or breath. But another way to practice mindfulness is by single-tasking, being present with what we're doing, saying, and listening to.

October 10, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda, thank you so much for the review of this class! Being an ICD subscriber, I'll definitely have to check it out. Their courses are of such high quality. I love the piece of the mindfulness definition about being nonjudgmental. Such a good reminder!

October 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Soboleski

Sarah- You're welcome. I agree with you about the high quality of the ICD teleclasses. Casey's class will not disappoint. Interesting that you noticed the nonjudgmental piece of the mindfulness definition. Intriguing, isn't it? Having that included helps us focus on being present, accepting the now, not comparing or berating, but just being.

October 12, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

When I was old enough to figure it out, I whistled. Often. I thought I was simply imitating my father who whistled all the time, it seemed, and we both enjoyed music. So it was like creating our own music.

I now believe my whistling was more about staying connected to the moment. My music helped to filter out noise around me. There was always a lot going on in my mind and as a very quiet child I needed the company of my whistling, too, when I in too quiet a place or space.

A client conversation helped me realize that mindfulness is available to me at any time, for any length of time, and wherever I needed to pause to pay more attention. I admired people who meditated but couldn't imagine sitting and resting for that long. Walking meditation works be beautifully for me though; a recent blog post is about my labyrinth walking. And my latest little book is Walking Meditation, by Thich Nha Hanh. Slowing down and appreciating the moments... that's what it's all about, isn't it.

October 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSue West

Sue- Interesting connection you have to your father and whistling. My Dad taught me to whistle. He was a HUGE whistler, and I wanted to be just like him. I still whistle, but find that more often I hum. To me humming seems to be an expression of an internal happy feeling. It's interesting how for you, your music has to do with being connected to the moment.

I'm with you 100% regarding slowing down long enough to be cognizant and appreciative of the moments. There's so much to take in and enjoy on a daily basis. If we're moving too quickly, we'll miss the opportunities for joy and connectedness.

October 14, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Linda, thank you for reframing it in a way I can relate to.

@Sue, that sounds like a very interesting book! I love my walks but would never have thought I could be mindful because I have to attend to my dog. Now I realize that if I'm attending to my dog and NOT thinking about my day ahead, that in itself is a form of mindfulness. It would probably be a stretch to call it meditation, but it does help me see that meditation may not be outside my grasp after all.

October 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

One of the things I enjoy so much about these conversations are the connections, ah-has, perspectives we share, receive, and connect with.

Thank you EVERYONE for this rich dialogue.

October 15, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I like the phrase "Awareness of Daily Experiences"
That is what I was trying to articulate in our discussion of mindfulness vice mindful.

October 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Burke

Heather- It was so wonderful seeing you this week in Toronto at the POC conference. And I enjoyed talking with you in person about mindfulness and some of the work you've been doing around that. I LOVE your phrase "awareness of daily experiences." It says it all and that definitely came across when we were talking. I hope you got back home easily. I'm looking forward to seeing you again soon.

October 25, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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