Dawn is a passionate educator with 17 years of experience spanning the communication and education industry. Starting her career as a public prosecutor, she joined the media industry and garnered experience in writing and editing corporate reports, speeches, press releases, e-newsletters and other corporate publications. Since then, she has transitioned to being an edutainer (aspiring to educate while entertaining in doses) and lectured at various tertiary institutions. An avid learner, she has now moved into coaching and counselling and looks forward the next chapter of her journey of learning and unlearning.
The Initial Assumptions
This was where I realised something.
I confused being ‘mindful’ with the act of ‘minding’, where I use my intellect to consider, reason and ‘mind’ my business for the latter. I also associated it with keeping others around me in ‘mind’ - extending consideration to them. While all these thoughts and actions are perfectly fine and commonplace, the one aspect that I neglected about ‘mindfulness’ was how I could extend consideration to myself and how that could really help in some of my challenges.
A Taste of Mindful Moments
1. Mindfulness is not tangible, but the results of practising mindfulness are. During the session, Erin invited us to participate in a short activity to fully experience the sights and senses of tasting a fruit. That felt like the longest three minutes of my life and I was ready to explode with impatience. Why should eating a fruit even be so cumbersome? Then I realised that I chose to slow down midway and not fight my urges to accelerate the simple process. Strangely, I was able to feel calmer after this activity. All that took place within me was not tangible and only known to me. But it was a poignant reminder to not be afraid to go slow and take stock of things around us.
2. It takes effort (and some pain) to be mindful: This is about taking steps to coach my mind to resist reacting with familiar means. Instead, I believe in working to modify the response. Whenever I feel the urge for something to be done immediately, I recall the song ‘Right Here, Right Now’ by Fatboy Slim. While I do enjoy the beat of the song, it never fails increase my stress levels since we live in a world when everybody demands things instantly. Hence, there is pain when I make intentional efforts to practise mindfulness and slow down. Naturally, I do not recommend applying this to time sensitive work situations but more on a personal front for a start. Nonetheless, there is immense value in practising mindfulness at work when making choices that are triggered by perceived stressors.
3. Can I afford to not be mindful? The short answer is both ‘Yes and No’ since we always have options. Having said that, I do not believe that I can afford to not be mindful. This is especially so given my personality, profession and passion for life. As an educator, communications practitioner and coach, even my best intentions for individuals will be met with challenges. Mindfulness helps me increase my empathy, full-heartedly. It also helps me to choose to reduce the tendency to internalise the problems of my clients. Most importantly, it facilitates my ability to separate thoughts from truths. This was the most precious and empowering reminder I walked away with from the session.
As of now, I am fully mindful that this journey will not be easy but it will be worthwhile.