Finding ‘mindfulness’

Hello there lovely readers, now put that device down and listen up. Having trouble doing that? Well today’s blog is all about a whole new, rapidly growing industry focused on helping you do so. Remember the days of Eckart Toll’s ‘The Power of Now’ extolling the virtues of conscious awareness’? Familiar with Yogis and meditation gurus banging on about the virtues of meditation for stilling the mind? Same premise, new buzzword ‘mindfulness’.

Did you know that goldfish now have a greater attention span than we do? Seven seconds while those sweet little suckers have eight!. This due to our febrile attempts to accomplish bigger, greater, more – from the moment we rise, to the second we lay our weary heads upon our lavender spritzed sleep inducing pillows. Yep, time to focus on stilling the mind.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve a whole bunch of chattering monkeys banging away in my head. The same critters who reach a crescendo during post Yoga Shavasana where, instead of focusing on breathing, palm trees and shimmering water, I find myself mentally singing ‘Old MacDonald had a…haeeey macarena!!’

Seems the only time I was able to quell the monkeys was during time spent wandering around France, no deadlines (other than grabbing a baguette before the village closed for afternoon siesta), no expectations, just me, alone with those busy, busy thoughts. Until the day I looked up to take note of a street name on a wall to mark my way home and discovered a mosaic space invader. My quest to find them all (see Space Invaders) soon brought a whole new world into focus.

Before I knew it I found myself marvelling at dappled sunlight through the plane tree leaves, the delicate patterns inside the Arc de Triomphe, the Meccano struts of the Eiffel tower; the weight of massive curtain tassels in the Palace Opera.

I smiled at the pure joy on a little girl’s face as birds alighted on her seed proffered hand. Joined the infectious giggles of twin baby girls, identically attired in white leggings and camel puffer jackets, pushing boats across the pond. (With just a slight distraction as I secretly coveted their impeccably attired mother’s Louis Vuitton cross body patent purse). Tuned into the click of boules. Laughed at the disconnect as a rabble of folk with an assortment of instruments bashed out a tune only they recognised. Cried while listening to the pure notes of a choir in a back street Synagog. Ate a whole bowl of warm, freshly picked market cherries just to feel their burst of sweetness. Sensed the atmospheric feel of impending rain, revelled in the smell of ozone, wet tarmac. Nailed it lovely readers! Mindfulness.

Thing is, we can’t just pootle off on sojourns to escape the everyday busyness of life as we know it today.  We also know we can’t keep clinging to the pretty roundabout horse, losing our sense of inner harmony without consequence. Ask Arianna Huffington (author, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, now owned by AOL) who experienced first hand the detriment of trying to do too much for too long and, after recovering from collapse, now advocates for getting off that goddamned horse. So too Lisa Messenger, founder of the Collective, Camilla (of the Flowing Caftan genre) and so many more.

So what to do to regain our balance? Well darlinks, you can actually app your way to work-life balance and, being queen of apps, I thought I’d build you a little toolbox of said helpers to get you started:

Eight fabulous apps for stilling the mind:

Antisocial: On average, people touch their smart phones 2,617 times a day. This app tracks how much time you spend on your device and helps you become more mindful about your usage.

Buddhify: Eleven hours of meditations designed to squeeze a little peace into every part of your day, from the start of day until you hit the hay.

Bloom: Keep your workaholic tendencies in check by turning your most-loved picks and music into mini-movies that you can schedule to appear during your day; along with pre-made reminders – ‘time for a glass of water sport!’

Thrive Away: Arianna Huffington’s new organisation ‘Care of Thrive Global’ comes with an app that allows you to take a proper vacation from your inbox. Thrive Away let’s senders know your not at your desk and automatically deletes all new emails while you’re relaxing.

OffTime: blocs apps, filters out notifications and sets up auto-replies to stop your smartphone gatecrashing your creative concentration or special moments with loved ones.

Pocket: If you’re prone to falling down internet rabbit holes, this beauty puts articles, tweets, videos – pretty much anything – aside for viewing when you’re not on the job. Save links straight from your browser for the commute home.

Pause: Set a time, pop in those ear buds and do what you’re told by this audiovisual app aiming to bring mindfulness to your day. Big circles, slow motions, my personal fave!

Habitbull: Habits can both enhance or damage your life and this sweet little app will help you make or break a few more. It deploys an army of strategies to keep you across your habits, from generating graphs to displaying progress and encouraging you to set specific goals

Enjoy!! And if you’ve any you’d like to share, please drop a line in the comments.


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    Magical moments…beautiful words

    As you know, my lovely readers, I’m rather partial to curious expressions, particularly those that capture the essence of something quite extraordinary in one single word. This week? Rain.

    I love getting caught in the rain, don’t you? The wind driven kind that renders your umbrella obsolete. Squalls that result in straggly hair, running mascara, clinging shirts, squelchy shoes. Downpours that inspire an urge to jump in puddles, splash along gutters, swing from lamp posts singing; well I don’t quite go that far (unless fuelled with fortification). But I do lift my face to capture raindrops on my tongue, pause to inhale the earthy fragrance of damp soil, wet Tarmac, the essence of ozone. Mindfulness, being in the moment, call it what you will, just one of life’s little indulgences.

     

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      Why thank you!

      Hello my lovely readers, I bet you’re just starving for more career hints huh? Well, although this post applies to all areas of our lives, today a focus on ensuring you are memorable when in the job market. We’re talking the power of a ‘Thank You’.

      Call me a nag, but while coaching my clients to build targeted personal branding, social media marketing and job search strategies to land their next job with speed, the one thing I tend to hammer home is the simple art of sending a ‘thank you’. Post network meeting, after an interview, in response to skills endorsements on LinkedIn, a network connection, a favour. ‘Thank you.’ So easy, so oft overlooked, yet oh so valuable.

      You see, the human brain is programmed to compress experiences into three phases: The beginning, the peak and the end. In the case of a networking conversation or job interview, we tend to put more focus on creating a fabulous first impression, yet how we follow-up can play a critical role in how we’re remembered afterwards. In this era of e-communication, a thoughtful thank you note matters more than ever and costs us nothing but a couple of moments. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of a post-interview thank you.

      Five steps to crafting the perfect thank you note…

      Put it on paper

      It’s easy to send a quick thank-you note via email right after you leave an interview or network chat however if your inbox is anything like mine, that email is apt to get lost in the pile of electronic communications, especially if it’s not urgent. Why not cut through that clutter by sending a small paper note? Writing on paper will also have the benefit of forcing you to be more thoughtful about what you’re writing.

      Make it personal

      A thank you note can be forgettable or memorable. Instead of a generic “thank you for your time,” why not tell the person what you specifically appreciated about your meeting. Were there particular qualities in the encounter that stood out in your mind? A moment that demonstrated why you would want to work there? Something you’d like the interviewer/networker to know you took away from the conversation? Assume others are also sending a thank you note, and personalise yours, so it stands out as unique. Oh! And if you’re sending more than one thank you note, take the extra time to make each one unique for we can easily sound disingenuous if our recipients compare notes and realise we took the easy way out and copied/pasted.

      Be real but be neat

      Writing out your note in longhand is a small window into your personality. Penmanship may be a dying art, therefore ensuring your writing is legible and neat will help put your best (type)face forward. I pride myself on my handwriting however when in a hurry, have been known to write in brail. Hurried chicken scratch writing won’t reflect well on you. Take care especially to make sure your signature is readable, so they know who sent the note.

      Anyone you missed?

      A thank you should not be reserved for the people with the loftiest titles. Who else helped you? A receptionist who worked on the meeting’s scheduling? Current employees with whom you privately chatted to get a sense of the workplace culture? Take a moment to thank these people as well. Such sweet gestures can often lead to these connections putting in a good word for you. Sometimes it’s people on the periphery that can make all the difference in a close decision. Case in point – the first person my old boss used to turn to for an opinion on someone he’d just interviewed was our Receptionist, followed by the Personal Assistants.

      Still in doubt?

      I recently read a debate between recruiters in a LinkedIn group where one had asked the question ‘What methodology do you use to help make the decision between two perfect candidates?’ The overwhelming response was ‘The first one who bothers to send me a thank you for the interview.’

      Oh! And thank you for reading this post! Have any fabulous ‘thank you’ outcomes of your own to share? Why not drop them in the comments box?

       

       

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