It’s often counterintuitive to slow down to enable yourself to achieve more. In this article I will share a technique that has enriched my past 3 weeks. I have just returned from a holiday. You know the story – you work really hard before your holiday to get things done, and when you get back, you have so much to catch up on. It can be overwhelming for our mind and body.
This year, it was pleasing to come back to so much amazing work – contracts to raise, meetings and new projects starting. Training design, consultancy and facilitation all require creativity, energy and presence. For this type of work, I need to be in the here-and-now, at my best, without the background conversation buzzing in my mind.
Part of mindfulness practice is developing a relationship with activities – such as writing a report. So often, we are not present. This affects our joy in the experience of writing the report.
When I am writing a new training session, I produce my best work when I have an embodied, aware experience. It is a very pleasant, grounded, nourishing, connected and uncomplicated experience.
Hitting the pause button
I first came across the pause technique during a retreat at the Global Retreat Centre in Oxfordshire. On the hour, every hour, a piece of music was played into the rooms. This was an invitation for us all to stop and be present.
It took a while to get used to this – I might be having a conversation, or walking with a destination in mind. To stop and be is not how we usually live. We’re usually ‘up in our heads’ thinking, our thoughts racing from past to present to future as we hurry through our days.
I embraced the pause technique, and on office days I set my alarm on my phone to sound every hour.
Put simply, the technique is to bring mindfulness alive throughout the day. Rather than seeing mindfulness as purely sitting practice, something you do for half an hour in a day, the pause technique brings the practice to our everyday life.
Over the past year I have been using a technique called Stop-Look-Listen (technique thanks to Youth Mindfulness) to hit the pause button.
There are three steps:
1. Stop – Press the pause button, by stopping whatever you are doing.
2. Look around – arrive into the present moment, with all your senses.
3. Listen – give yourself a chance to be you, in the moment. Take three mindful breaths to arrive in the moment.
It’s a beautiful practice. To be present enables me to fully connect with the moment, to feel my energy, and to slow down. Through slowing down, I can be more productive. “More haste, less speed” is the old saying, and I have found this to be a truth for me.
I use the Stop-Look-Listen on training days, too. Not every hour, as this wouldn’t work for course timings, but one minute of every break enables me to have awareness of my busy mind, my feelings, my energy.
When I fully stop and notice what is around me, I slow down, listen and feel.
Instead of disappearing in my world of concepts and thinking, I bring my energy back to my senses – smelling, seeing, tasting, hearing, touching. It’s a wonderful experience and I have found it enables me to be more productive.
I enjoy my work more
I achieve more
My working life is enriched
I look forward to hearing how this lands with you.
Kay uses a learner driven, experiential approach in her work. She is always prepared to be challenged with unusual development requests, and often uses actors for drama workshops to embed knowledge, skills and attitudenal change.
Kay has held a variety of roles in her career - sales and marketing, office manager, HR person, Financial...