What You Really Need to Know About Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness has so many positive benefits, but it can seem challenging to fit into everyday life.
If mindfulness sounds daunting, boring, or like something you don’t have time for, then this episode is for you.
We are taking a deep dive into its many benefits, and how to practice mindfulness in real life with expert Dr. Leah Weiss.
Let’s make it happen!
Do you want to improve your focus to be more present in your everyday life?
We've got you covered.
Mindfulness: does it sound daunting, boring, or like something you could never do?
This episode is all about what you really need to know about mindfulness and how to do it in real life.
Dr. Leah Weiss has a depth of knowledge and experience when it comes true mindfulness and she's also a mama, so she knows what it's like to live in the real world.
Leah noticed that this lofty idea of mindfulness was really not translating well into our day to day, seeming like something unattainable that takes forever.
Mindfulness has a lot of research-backed effects when it comes to wellbeing, to feeling really good, and when it comes to helping and serving those around you.
"It's not about selfishness, it's about being in your body, being able to pay attention to the moment, which helps you live your best life and helps you to contribute in so many ways".
On mindfulness beyond meditation:
Leah found that as a mama, she needed to think about mindfulness beyond meditation, the other 23+ hours in the day.
Her book really clarifies how to leverage opportunities for mindfulness outside of the meditation context.
Meditation is in the service of having a perspective or way of being in the world.
It is a great, powerful way to cultivate, to train, to get stronger, but it's always been about the world.
Leah is more interested in reorienting our relationship with mindfulness, to say "what does it really mean to be mindful", and “why are we meditating if it's not to bring this into our relationships, our workplace, and stress?”
There may be some pushback around personalizing meditation or framing it to benefit us in the workplace, but it's always been a complex idea that has infused meditation into real life and work.
Mindfulness is something that fits into all lifestyles and religions, too.
On the false dichotomy:
There is a natural formulation to put things into two separate categories at odds with each other, but often there are more than two options.
What does it mean to frame things as more of a spectrum?
There is often an expectation that we are a certain way in one context and a different way in another when in actuality, we are the same person bringing experiences into each space.
Everyone is dealing with something, and we can support that in the workplace.
On mindfulness in real life:
Mindfulness: the intentional use of attention.
There's not a division between meditation as it's supposed to unfold in our life in the way that these practices have been framed.
We can be aware of what we are selecting and returning our attention to, even if it's doing the dishes or folding laundry.
But in a world that our attention is being pulled in different directions, we can experience overwhelm and an inability to feel a sense of fulfillment
The three-part definition that Dr. Kristin Neff uses is helpful in remembering the what in what we're doing.
Self-compassion: mindfulness + common humanity + self-kindness / self-coaching.
Mindfulness in that we can be aware of our own suffering.
Common humanity is being part of the human condition. It’s contextualizing what we're experiencing and using it as an opportunity to narrow and isolate or see it as a bridge to better understand other people.
Whether we can meet our own suffering with self-kindness.
Self-coaching refers to the idea that we can train ourselves in how we would theoretically respond to other people with this suffering, and can we respond to ourselves in that way.
On suffering in the context of mindfulness:
Suffering in the context of mindfulness refers to any of the things that we feel stressed, pain, discomfort, anxiety, or worry about.
It’s all of the negative states of mind that we experience in a day by day, moment by moment way that can be opportunities for growth and learning but for many of us that cause pain if we don't have a way to frame them.
Strategies for mindful practice:
1 | Throughout your day, as you go through all of your activities, return your attention to your physical body to understand what's going on.
How are you breathing?
What sensations are you experiencing?
What kind of tension are you starting to hold?
This translates into the ability to better regulate emotions.
Training ourselves to get better with recognizing the relationship between the emotional experience and the physical patterns we have can allow us to start to recognize those tells ahead of time.
Tip: give yourself brief reminders throughout the day to check in and create a habit of being more aware of what's happening in both your emotional and physical self.
2 | Train yourself in emotion narration + avoid burnout.
"If you don't metabolize your emotions as you go, then you're a time bomb".
There is a connection between an inability to know what we're feeling and a predisposition to have our emotions lash out when we're under stress.
Emotion narration: know what you're feeling.
We can train ourselves with repetition throughout the day by asking, "what am I feeling, emotionally and physically?”
In helping professions, from doctors to social workers to stay at home moms, burnout is real.
There is a difference between empathy and compassion in the way it shows up in our brains and bodies.
Our bodies are not meant to sustain the upregulated empathy overtime.
With compassion, what we experience in our brains is connective and rewarding.
The empathy we experience is pain, the pain we are mirroring in the other person.
Checking in with yourself throughout the day is one way to increase resilience and build compassion.
3 | Monotask well + notice how you feel.
"The biggest misnomer is this idea that we can multitask".
We cannot do more than one thing at a time, but we can task-switch (go back and forth).
Each time we switch, though, there is a cost because we have to reorient to the new task.
This isn't something we can do effectively.
An alternative: set a timer for 25 minutes, do a very focused increment of work, stand up, take a 5 minute break, rejuvenate, and then repeat.
With this incremental and focused work, productivity is higher as is a sense of enjoyment and accomplishment.
"We're all works in progress".
On what it really means to be healthy:
"To live with intentionality, to live with humor, it's both. The intentionality piece and the learning and growing and developing, but also this sense of humor implies a humility of knowing ‘I'm a work in progress, we're all works in progress’".
Dr. Weiss on The Good Life Project Podcast
Leah Weiss, Ph.D. is a researcher, lecturer, consultant, and author.
She teaches Compassionate Leadership at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she created the perennially-waitlisted course "Leading with Mindfulness and Compassion."
She is a principal teacher and a founding faculty member of Stanford's “Compassion Cultivation Program,” conceived by the Dalai Lama.
Her first book, “How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind” (HarperWave) focuses on developing compassionate and soft skill-based leadership while also offering research-backed actionable steps towards finding purpose at work."
This post contains affiliate links.