Numerous recent studies have revealed the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. From improving overall health to increasing creativity, meditation seems to have astounding effects on practitioners. It's even become something of a fad among the tech elite and on Wall Street.
However, when many people think of meditation, they probably conjure images of someone sitting cross-legged on the floor for an hour of complete concentration. That very notion is what keeps them from experimenting with it. Rohan Gunatillake is on a mission to change that perception. He has developed a concept that he calls "mobile mindfulness" to help the hyper-distracted move just a little closer to awareness and full presence, which will result in deeper thinking and ultimately more connectedness to life and work. "Mobile mindfulness is taking legit mindfulness techniques and doing them aside the activities you're already doing," he told me. "So, you don't have to find extra time for meditation. It comes to you."
Here are a few of the methods that Gunatillake recommends:
Check email mindfully. Yes, he believes that it's possible to be mindful even as you are scrolling through your inbox or checking your social media accounts. While scrolling, be aware of the physical sensation of your phone in your hand. Pay attention to the feeling of your finger on the screen. Notice the weight on each of your feet. This kind of "body awareness" is a traditional meditation technique, and you can use the prompt of checking your email as a way to initiate it.
Stay present in a long, boring meeting. "Let's try to solve the problem where the problem is," Gunatillake says. Many people struggle to stay present in meetings and find their mind drifting off, no matter how hard they try to be alert. As a countermeasure, he recommends paying attention to your hands to try to discern the most subtle experience you can notice, whether that means the sensation of your fingers resting lightly on the table, or the feeling of them resting on your legs. Just noting these sensations keeps you present and mindful, and prevents you from drifting off when things get boring.
Have a tourist mind. Another technique is to wander around a familiar neighborhood, but with the express intent of noticing things for the first time. Don't slip into automaton mode, but instead look for subtle elements in your environment that you've never noticed before. Pretend that you're a tourist. Doing this will open you to new ideas and new forms of stimuli that could also prove helpful in your creative process.
Of course, the benefits of a traditional meditation practice are numerous. However, don't allow your busyness to prevent you from experiencing some of the benefits of mindfulness. Take Gunatillake's advice, and seek small moments in your life in which to be more present and aware.