By Antoine Denoix
After a week’s holiday or a Bank Holiday weekend, the return journey isn’t so easy… and what is there afterwards? You may enjoy holidays, serenity, silence, relaxation… but what is there beforehand? The prospect of an avalanche of emails, days filled with meetings, and projects led to the rhythm of a beating drum… Decisions and resolutions pass by far too quickly. So let’s try some mindfulness meditation! Lots of things have been said and written on this subject, and from this we’ll try to illustrate what it could bring to you, and above all how to practice it, in your daily life.
In your professional life, you often have to struggle with difficulties: with your colleagues, with complicated problems, in urgent situations… And your natural reaction is to flee or to persevere. When persevering, by ‘overdoing’ your usual resources: your character, instincts, intuitions… your mind then has the tendency to speed round and round in circles until you run out of energy. You look for speed, while the most sensible option is (ironically) to stop! This is where mindfulness meditation steps in. The technique was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts. To carry out this technique you must stop, fall silent, turn your gaze inwards, and observe. Distance yourself from the situation so that you may emerge renewed. Mindfulness meditation is therefore all about concentrating on your sensations, your breathing, your emotions… and distancing these from your thoughts. These tactics only have the power to work if you grant them it. Upon reacting in this way automatically, the rational response will be replaced.
What about the effects? It has been proven that regular practice of meditation will improve your emotional intelligence, your creativity, and your capacity to concentrate. This latter point is hardly an old wives’ tale. The abundance of screens all around us considerably decreases our ability to concentrate. It takes only a matter of seconds to lose concentration… yet it takes several long minutes for it to return!
So how do we get started? Find a few minutes every day to practice. One important point to remember: meditation is within everyone’s reach. It is not a privilege enjoyed only by Buddhist monks; far from it. It lends its progress to taking small steps.
Beyond strict meditation exercises, there are some simple principles to help you maintain your general concentration. First, avoid the natural reflex to read your emails in the morning. Make an effort during the first moments of the day (you should still have a clear mind), in particular for the positive activities such as reflection and decisions. Then, delete all the notifications from your phone (emails, SMS…) which oblige you to react immediately to them. And lastly, only do one thing at a time! Of course, this is all easy to say, but difficult to carry out… in as much as our natural gradient pushes our mind to wander, far from our main task.