It's a busy world. You run to work, have a jam-packed day and an even busier evening. But in the rush to accomplish your day's "To Do" list, you are likely not paying attention to what you are doing in the present moment or even noticing how you're feeling.
Too often we are in "go-mode" not paying attention to how we feel. In these moments, we can easily be brusque with a colleague at work or have an angry, snappy reaction to our partner's benign comment at home. Such interactions inevitably spiral out of control and cause us much distress. Learning how to deal with emotions as they surface is an important developmental goal; one that may avoid much unnecessary conflict with our co-workers and partners.
Mindfulness is simply the practice of being aware of present-moment experience without trying to push it away or over-engage, so that any action taken is done so with greater reflection and consciousness. When we become aware of how we feel and are able to manage our feelings without pushing feelings away or getting tangled up in them, we master emotional regulation. Moreover it is easier to tune in to others when we are better in tune with ourselves. Thus, we become stronger in our relationships and have stronger relationships as a result.
Mindfulness isn't about denying or burying our emotions. It's simply about cultivating a different relationship to our feelings and experiences. By spending as little as twenty minutes a day stilling our mind or meditating, we have access to an easy, always available method to soothe ourselves when overwhelmed, fearful, anxious or unhappy. If you refer to my last blog post Finding Peace in the Chaos, there are some handy tips for the busy professional on how to make this a daily attainable goal.
Mindfulness practice helps develop greater stress resilience in all relationships. We have all had setbacks and encountered stumbling blocks in life. They happen to everyone. Resilient people have the ability to adapt and bounce back when things don't go as planned and they don't wallow or dwell on failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward. The trick is to be able to get yourself back to baseline with relative ease and efficiency. Dealing with set-backs in a positive way where we are able to correct or repair unpleasant moods more quickly not only allows us to live with more enjoyment but also keeps harmony in our relationships.
Being able to "get" and understand another person's state of mind is essential for a healthy relationship, but being able to do so without losing awareness of your own state of mind is even more important. Mindfulness is not just about paying attention to our thoughts and feelings, but also about how we pay attention. When we are kind and patient with ourselves, we are also able to increase empathy and compassion for others, factors we know are critical to the survival of any relationship.
Mindfulness increases our awareness of what we are experiencing and allows us the space to decide how we want to act in our daily lives. With a mindfulness practice, we can see our feelings and thoughts like taxis zooming through a busy junction, but we alone choose if we want to flag one down and get on board. As we become more mindful, we achieve a greater sense of inner peace that is beneficial to us and the world around us, especially to the people close to us. And this balance will of course help us build better and more peaceful relationships - something we strive for in both our work and personal life.