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Archive for category: Mindfulness

Why Concrete and Coaching Don’t Mix

Why Concrete and Coaching Don’t Mix

Following on from a coaching session with one of my Clients yesterday it got me thinking about the concept that concrete and coaching don’t mix.

My Client is a Civil Engineering Contractor and is wanting to take his business to the next level so we’ve been having regular coaching sessions to look at what actions he needs to do to grow his business and maximise profits.  When he first contacted me he didn’t have any headspace at all, it was full of all of the things he knew he needed to do and deal with but didn’t know where to start and he was very stressed.  We use the word stress a lot, it’s a feeling that we have but what does it mean?  It’s basically when perceived pressure exceeds your perceived ability to cope.

Fast forward a few sessions later and he’s getting clearer but a couple of weeks ago I went to site to do the session as planned and he was having a disastrous day, the concrete pour was not going well and the water had managed to disconnect itself somehow.  That day we cut the session short so he could deal with the issue but that prompted me to share with you a couple of tools you can use to help you get more headspace.

The first one is to breathe.  Sounds a bit daft to say that as we need to breathe BUT, this is called the 7/11 breath.  It’s a technique I was taught on my coaching course and used many times as a Project Manager when I felt stressed and pulled in lots of different directions.  I used to take myself off to the ladies and practice breathing in for 7 counts and breathing out for 11.  Do that a few times and it really does calm you down.  When you get stressed it shuts off the  part of your brain that thinks creatively which is just what you don’t need in that situation.  Next time you feel yourself getting stressed, try it and let me know if it works.

The second tool is simple, when you’re mind is full, write it down.  The short term memory part of your brain acts like the RAM of a computer.  It keeps storing things that keep going round and around your head like an unclosed loop.  If you don’t find a way to close the loop you can literally go loopy!  Every time you tell yourself ‘I need to do this, I must sort that’ but then you don’t do anything with it, your short term memory stores it, and the more things you tell yourself, the fuller it gets until you may feel like your head could explode.

So, get a piece of paper and have a massive dump, a brain dump I’m referring to, just to be clear!  When you write things down that signals to your brain that you’ve closed the loop and it empties it from your short term memory.

Both tools are simple but effective and I hope you find them useful.  Enjoy the rest of your week and I’d love to know how you get on if you use them.

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Bricks and the City – Being Mindful about Being Mindful

Bricks and the City – Being Mindful about Being Mindful

Firstly I should say that I’ve not been mindful about writing this blog, I have been writing this blog whilst making the Sunday dinner, hopefully the chicken will not suffer for my lack of focus, the juices will run clear and we shall not contract botulism. If not, then I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog this past year and let this be a lesson to us all to be mindful!

Secondly, I have spent the past year being mindful of the fact that I am not being mindful! A year ago I blogged about this and I downloaded the App ‘Headspace’ by Andy Puddicombe, you can set an alarm to go off at any time as a reminder to do a 10 minute mindfulness meditation. So, every day the alarm goes off at 7.20am and every day I ignore it. I did do about 5 days in total and the first day I didn’t give myself enough time, set off for work got stuck behind a tractor and was late!

Still curious about mindfulness I found out about a local course, enrolled and went along last Sunday afternoon. So, what is mindfulness? It’s about paying attention to the present moment. How many times are you sat at your desk, ‘focusing’ on the task in hand and your mind is either thinking about something that happened earlier, or yesterday, or last week or about the meeting you have to go to later, the report you have to write by the end of the day, the e mail you haven’t had a response to yet, etc, etc. Sound familiar? Your mind is essentially full!

Mindfulness is about bringing your awareness into the now and focussing on this moment, this one here, right now. If you check in with yourself right NOW, are you reading this blog mindfully or are you thinking about your day ahead or the rubbish journey you’ve just had getting into work, we do it all the time. How do we stop flitting backwards and forwards and be mindful?

One of the biggest revelations for me and I think where I’d been going wrong was thinking I had to set aside a chunk of time every day, just once to practice mindfulness, hence downloading the app (which I’m sure works for a lot of people) and failing every morning to create the time to practice. The answer is, you don’t. You can practice by focusing on simple everyday tasks such as getting a shower, brushing your teeth, it’s all about being in the moment and being present with what you are doing. On the course we learnt different practices such as the body scan which is focusing on different parts of your body from top to toe and noticing how they are feeling. You can also simply focus on the breath for a few minutes which helps to quiet the mind and calm down the noise to enable you to focus your attention on the now.

So, why do it? More and more research is being carried out on the benefits of mindfulness and this post lists 20 reasons why it’s good for your mental and physical health, the first one being that it lowers stress by reducing the stress hormone cortisol, sounds as good a reason as any!

I bought a book ages ago called Mindfulness for Busy People by Dr Michael Sinclair and Josie Seydel which I had fully intended to read this week, unfortunately I am only on page 49, I have 180 pages to go! What I have read so far is really good though, particularly the reminder that all time is our time and I love this quote, “Everywhere you are, everywhere you go, whatever you are doing and whomever you are with- surprise, surprise, you are also there!” I shall report back when I’m finished the book and I have been trying to practice what I preach this week in some shape or form although my mindfulness muscle is incredibly weak, I’m sure it will build itself up in time.

Finally I wanted to share a really good TED Talk from Diana Winston on The Practice of Mindfulness. Diana is the Director of the Mindfulness Awareness Research Centre at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and if you can spare 17mins and 7 seconds of your time, I would really recommend you watch. She gives a great introduction to what it’s all about, the benefits and how you do it which is something I’ve tried to do in my blog but if I got distracted by cooking my chicken and haven’t done it justice, I apologise!

Have a great week everyone!

Bricks and the City – Mindfulness

Bricks and the City – Mindfulness

This subject has come up a few times recently so someone, somewhere is trying to drop me a hint.  One of the ways of increasing resilience which was talked about at the recent breakfast briefing I went to was Mindfulness.

I’m a great believer in co-incidences and this was reiterated by my train journey down to London to do the Stress Management Course, my crazy person antics of talking to the stranger next to me on the train resulted in her telling me about a book she was reading all about Mindfulness!  So I had to find out more.

Mindfulness is all about being in the moment.  It’s the ability to focus on 1 thing instead of being pulled in a number of different directions with lots of different distractions and disruptions (lots of D’s!!) sounds bliss, doesn’t it?

If you’re mindful, I’ve included a couple of links below, the first, is a very short clip by a guy called Jon Kabat-Zinn who has written quite a few books on the subject, and I think he oozes calm.  There is also a link to a clip from BBC Breakfast who did an experiment regarding Mindfulness.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness on BBC Breakfast

The book that the nice, equally friendly and crazy person (for talking back to me) recommended is by Andy Puddicombe called, Get Some Headspace: 10 Minutes Can Make All the Difference.

I have taken it upon myself to download the App and I am going to give mindfulness a whirl, taking 10 mins a day for 10 days.  I shall report back after my trial…..

Who knows, if it catches on maybe we will have to write the provision of meditation rooms into the prelims as well as drying rooms and canteen facilities??

Watch this headspace……….!