Wellbeing: Ten minutes in time saves nine

Taking as little as 10 minutes out of your busy schedule each day may seem impossible but, perhaps, ten minutes can, in time, save nine. Tom Evans, author of The Authority Guide to Practical Mindfulness, discusses the benefits of meditation and how taking a little time out of your day for reflection may boost overall productivity and save you time in the long run

Mindfulness seems to be in vogue these days; scientists and clinicians are just discovering how and why mindfulness and meditation positively improve our health, well-being and vitality. This is especially relevant nowadays as the interconnectedness of our modern world, which has been beneficial in so many ways, has produced the undesirable side effect that we are ‘always on’.

The Authority Guide to Practical Mindfulness is written for those who are looking for an easier way to run their days and their lives. It will help business owners become less stressed and more profitable. It’s a boon for employees striving to find purpose and a sense of belonging. Busy mums and stay-at-home dads will find much in here to help them claw back their time, and sanity. In the busy practice environment, perhaps it might help practice managers learn ways to harmonise the practice and streamline workflow.

Nowadays many see mindfulness as a way of dealing with anxiety, depression, illness or stress. Others use it to seek answers to the meaning of life and the universe. My aim is to show you how to use mindfulness techniques to achieve tangible, real-world results and reveal why it’s a kind of madness not to meditate.

When you operate a business mindfully, adversity becomes a thing of the past

When we meditate each day, for just 10 minutes, amazing transformations ensue. For sure, our health and general well-being improves as we become less stressed. After just a week or so, the clarity of mind that it brings makes us luckier, more creative and more attractive in all senses of the word. After a month or so of practice we discover that time takes on a different quality; not only do we get more done in less time but external events seem to happen ‘just in time’.

People will notice a difference in you and may wonder if you’ve had cosmetic surgery as you become more radiant and youthful. You become capable of remaining calm while all around you may be in chaos. Amazing ideas come to you right ‘off the top of your head’. You become more present and vital.

When your friends, family and work colleagues take up your new, nicely infectious habit, everything scales up even further. Happy employees take fewer days off work and are more productive when they’re in work. Interactions, and relationships with those you interact with, improve and everything moves up a gear… or three.

When you operate a business mindfully, adversity becomes a thing of the past and you start to live a charmed life where opportunity abounds and serendipity lands at your feet.

Extract from The Authority Guide to Practical Mindfulness

Now this is a book on practical mindfulness, not so much practical meditation, so it’s worth sorting out any confusion between the terms ‘mindfulness’ and ‘meditation’ and the phrase ‘mindfulness meditation’.

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There is, perhaps, some confusion that mindfulness means meditation—and that meditation means mindfulness. Let me state from the outset, you can be mindful without meditating and meditate without being mindful. This confusion is, perhaps, understandable, as learning to meditate is the most common route to achieving a mindful state of being. As mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist philosophy it is natural that meditation plays such a big role.

We are all natural meditators anyway

To confuse things a little further though, one of the meditative techniques used to teach mindfulness is to empty the mind of all thought. So, in some respects, being ‘mind-full’ involves being somewhat ‘mind-less’. However, the words ‘mindless’ and ‘mindlessness’ bring up all sorts of connotations we want to avoid.

In the Buddhist tradition, mindfulness is the practice of bringing the attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment. Meditation is the mechanism used to still the mind so we can focus and channel the attention. Mindfulness meditation is a blanket term to describe what happens when we do both together.

Some people can get quite stressed by the process of learning and practicing meditation. They worry if they are ‘doing it right’ and, somewhat ironically, can become quite stressed about it. For sure, there are some deep and elevated states of consciousness open to us all but there is no concept of right or wrong when it comes to meditating. We are all natural meditators anyway. If you have ever driven on a familiar route and don’t quite remember getting from A to B, you fell into a light meditative state. You can do the same painting a fence, mowing the lawn, ironing or washing the dishes. We are hard-wired to meditate.

Some people will gain benefit from just being more at peace and relaxed

My approach to meditation is somewhat more relaxed than some traditional, formal schools. With this book, the concepts are introduced gently, along with practical examples of how to use them. Some people will gain benefit from just being more at peace and relaxed. Some may well experience altered states of consciousness that some may interpret as mystical experiences. This is all quite normal and, as a scientist who has studied metaphysics, all quite explicable.

If you are a couch potato and want to run a marathon you start jogging first, gently mixing your running with some walking. Gradually you build up and up. The same is true of meditation. In time, you can learn to stay in the meditative state with your eyes open and jump into a state I call EMT—or Extended Me Time. Here time elongates so we get more done with less of it. I can personally attest it works a treat for all creative tasks, such as writing a book like this one.

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