I love traveling, and recently avoided the use of internet and social media during a vacation. It was glorious, but it saddened me to see people walking along gorgeous beaches staring at the screens on their phones instead of finding joy in the surrounding scenery and peacefulness. Staying present in each moment takes practice, but results in great dividends, including helping us stay positive and grounded during difficult times. Working in the nonprofit world, we often feel like we give and give, yet we forget to nourish ourselves. In a previous article here, I explained why grant professionals need mindfulness. Now, I want to share some ways for you to practice mindfulness daily.
Three Questions for Less Stress. Harry Hoover gives us three questions to clear the clutter in our lives, and I think it’s a great way to practice mindfulness. Next time you are considering whether to take on that new client or drop an activity that is causing stress in your life, ask yourself: “Is it making me better? Does it make me happy? Does it make me money?” You are not being selfish, but increasing your happiness, productivity and success which in turn helps others on your path.
Ten Positive Affirmations to Start Your Day. “Every day at work, I allow myself time, energy and space to breathe.” I love these ten affirmations from Ntathu Allen, a yoga and meditation teacher in London. Try saying an affirmation ten times when you wake up, or write the affirmations as part of a journaling meditation. Follow her other suggestions about leading a mindful life; she also offers a free 8-minute guided self-love and stress-relief meditation MP3 audio here.
There’s an app for that. I use several apps, free and paid, to help me meditate and practice mindfulness consistently. There are recordings to help you fall asleep, to form better relationships, complete body scans, practice loving kindness, and many more. Here are some of my favorites. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), has several apps for purchase, and I love his knowledge, wisdom and voice. I regularly use his JKZ Series2 app, and you can listen to a meditation of his for free on YouTube here. Andrew Johnson has a calming voice, and I love his Scottish accent, along with the calming music. A few of my favorite apps from Andrew are: Meditate Plus, Deep Sleep, Don’t Panic, Positivity, Power Nap, Public Speaking, and Beat Social Phobia. He has many more, and I doubt there is a bad one in the lot. For a calming female voice, try OMG, I Can Meditate. Lynne Goldberg includes weeks of sequential meditation teaching plus specialty meditations and other series such as Mindfulness & Social Media, Stress Less, and Relationship Harmony. A new app I recently tried, but have not yet purchased, is Headspace, which incorporates teaching animations with simple meditation teaching sessions. They offer a free 10-day trial.
Do an internet search of the words mindfulness, meditation, MBSR, etc. You will find an abundance of free and low-cost courses, videos, apps, audios, articles, and other resources. Here is a free 8-week online MBSR course: https://palousemindfulness.com/. There are also various books by experts such as Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn such as “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness.” Want to practice mindfulness with your children? Try “Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents)” or “Master of Mindfulness: How to Be Your Own Superhero in Times of Stress.”
Try an acronym for mindfulness: STOP. S-Stop, T-Take a breath, O-Observe what’s happening, P-Proceed.
Coloring for Adults. Buy one of those books at the checkout stand or download some of those adult coloring pages. Art therapy relaxes both the mind and body, and science has proven its benefits for helping people with PTSD, dementia, depression, anxiety, and other conditions. It promotes a sense of quietness and well-being, stimulates creativity/brain activity, and helps you be mindful of the present moment.
Several years ago, I was privileged to live in Hawaii due to my husband’s military service. One of the best days there involved a remote hike with my husband during a hot day on the windward side of Oahu. We walked across a river, discovered we were a little lost, and ended up on the set of the television show, Lost. Although they were not filming that day, there were signs in the forest indicating the set location. We finally made our way back to our car, drove to the beach, and jumped into the ocean with our hiking clothes on. That water felt so refreshing and wonderful. When I need an escape from stressful grant work days, I often use that visualization during meditation to relax and feel joy. What time in your life can you use to help de-stress during difficult times?
Next time you are in a public place, notice how many people are addicted to their cell phones, social media, and live through a 4-inch glass screen. Take a step back, take a deep breath, refrain from checking emails immediately, and enjoy the moment. You will never have that moment again.
Do you have any tips for practicing mindfulness that you find help your work as a grant professional? We’d love to hear! Share them with us in the comments section below.