It is my pleasure to be invited to comment on a series of articles as a psychologist and the author of The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness. As an academic and teacher, the dissemination of knowledge - especially on a large scale is a wonderful and welcome opportunity. But I always have a caveat:
You know yourself better than anyone. Read widely, listen well (especially to those leading their field), but do what is right for you. Whether you are tweaking ideas, cherry picking, or disregarding - it's not what you know it's what you do with it that counts!
A great article in the Peak Health Online library reminded us that while many "influencers" are promoting their top tips for health (and following the lazy crazy days of Christmas some of us may well be looking for a jump-start into fitness), but their practices - as indeed any - need to be heard with a modicum of caution. For example, while it may indeed be possible for some people to function on 4 hours sleep (and do so just as well as I following my 8 hours) doesn't mean we all have to do it. In fact when certain ideas go against commonly held research I add a further warning - while it may work for you, consider that there is little on the long-term effects. This is never to say "don't do it" (as far as I'm concerned, if it works for you, it is within the parameters of society, and you aren't hurting anyone - thrive!), but doing it just because an expert makes a suggestion?... Remember the best expert on your body, health and wellbeing - is YOU!
I've been hugely excited to see Mindfulness in its ascendance, and begin to embed itself in buinsess life as a means to improving emotional and mental health in a high-pressured environment. I'm aware that people still think it's 'just' meditation and yoga...but I want to impress that it's much more than that. Yes it has roots in Buddhist meditative practice with an aim to raise self-awareness, compassion and calm - therefore yoga and deep breathing are indeed helpful techniques. BUT any technique that can heighten our knowledge of what our body is saying to us, and enable us to enjoy living in the present can form part of mindful practice. That's what my book offers you.
But I said "part".
True mindfulness is about utilising that information to make improvements for yourself (and others).
In a recent interview I was asked "Why did I leave academia?" I haven't "left it" per se, but I focus on training while still writing a paper or two. My response was simple - I wanted my recommendations to go beyond the article.
In my training, not only do I offer the theory and the suggestions for best practice, but I give you ways to actually apply it.
The same rule works for me though - use what works for you, and either disregard - or maybe "pin" the rest in case it's useful in a different situation. After all, life is dynamic!
The more you know the wider your choices of action. The wider your choices, the more likely you are to find something effective for your present goal. (How much more mindful can you be!?)
Keep an open, but critical, mind and always make what you learn work for you.
After all, YOU are the expert on you.
Audrey is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), and the author of "The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness" (Pearson & FT series) and "Be A Great Manager - Now" (Pub Pearson, 2016 and Book of the Month in WH Smith Travel Stores). She is a CPD Accredited speaker, trainer, and qualified FIRO-B, DBT and NLP Practitioner. She is the founding Development Coach and Training Consultant with her training consultancy CLICK Training, and the resident psychologist on The Chrissy B Show (Sky191), the UK's only TV programme dedicated to mental health and wellbeing. She often presents at National and International conferences in the fields of leadership and team cohesion, and is part of the Amity University conference panel.