Philosophy is mistaken for high-level academic work that constructs new concepts and exists only in big, old books that are hard to pick up. However, philosophy goes beyond this limited understanding. Instead, it can be loosely understood as the love for wisdom and development of the brain, which has a multitude of connections to everyday life. Philosophy intersects nearly every aspect of the world, enabling us to better think about how to train our brains.
One sector of this is mindfulness. The philosophy of mindfulness begins with the basic premise that we are able to be fully conscious and aware of our surroundings so that we can properly react to them. In reality, this is easier said than done. It can be difficult to remain present and calm during stressful situations. This has been especially true given our current state. Lately we have all been trying to adapt to our new normal with disruptions ranging from seeing family and friends to school and for some work. It’s hard not to get sucked into the constant feed of news that is all about the pandemic and its collateral damage and easy to get stuck into negative feedback loops which can stress your body and mind.
I want to offer 5 steps to train in mindfulness practices and try and focus on the positive and lower stress and keep yourself healthy during these uncertain times. Mindfulness also helps in achieving our personal and professional goals and helps in leadership but staying focused and manage people and challenges.
- Practice gratitude and focus your attention on the small positives in your everyday life. This allows you to pay attention to those things rather than all the small lingering negatives around you.
- Focus on your breathing. Take five deep belly breaths and focus intently on your inhale and exhale. Repeat this 3 times and try to do at least 3 times during the day.
- Focus on your eating. Many times we are eating on the run or eating while watching tv or reading. When we eat with more mindfulness we are better able to digest our food and get more satisfaction from our food.
- Focus on listening. Most times when we are listening to people talk our thoughts are wandering, likely to what we are going to respond to them. Next time try listening intently to what that person is saying and pay full attention.
- Focus on your senses. What sounds are around you? What scents are you smelling outside? How does the sun or wind feel? Focus on your immediate surroundings and take a moment to fully engaging in them.
Be sure to check out Episode 2 of the Philosophy Phorum podcast to discover how mindfulness and meditation helped two death-row inmates navigate the outside world!
If you want more information on the philosophy of mindfulness, I encourage you to look at these inspiring TedTalks: