4. Mindfulness (Creative Qualities)

November 14, 2019

Mindfulness is perhaps one of the big buzzwords of 2019.

I feel like I hear it and read about it on a weekly basis and although I know it’s not a new concept (far from it), it took me a bit of time to acknowledge its importance.

“Rule your mind or it will rule you.” –Buddha

Traditional Buddhist mindfulness teachings sounded a bit wishy-washy to me when I was younger. I think I put it in the same category as, “May the force be with you, Luke.” It’s a cool thing to hear in a movie and it sounds a bit poetic but for me, it didn’t translate into real life.

I can hold my hand up now and I say I am sorry, I didn’t have a clue. If anything has taught me the importance of mindfulness, it’s running a business.

Who hasn’t had a hectic day? Stress, confusion, being pulled in different directions … sound familiar? Before you know it, you start to realise you are sacrificing your health, wellbeing, relationships and the ability to think clearly.

I would love to tell you that I have mastered the work-life balance but it’s not true. I’ve had some great high-points in life but like a rollercoaster, I’ve hit some lows points too.

When that happens, it’s not an easy thing to openly admit that you are not in control. There is a fear that people will judge you and decide not to work with you. That fear takes away your focus and robs you of the ability to embrace moments. Family illness, having children, relationship issues, looming deadlines are just some of the experiences I have encountered that can knock your way of thinking.

Last year, I was diagnosed with meningitis. The really sad bit about it was how long it took me to consider my own wellbeing. I remember feeling under the weather one day but I decided to ignore it and keep going. That was my first mistake. I spent the following two weeks refusing to take breaks because I didn’t want to let anyone down. By the time I ended up in hospital my recovery time was a lot longer than what it might have been if I had sought help sooner.

The rest of the year was a bit of a blur but I remember returning to work after the Christmas holidays and one of the first conversations I had was about mindfulness.

What makes mindfulness a creative quality?

I consider myself to be an ideas man. However, what do you do when you run out of good ideas? How do you get your mojo back?

Lost my mojo!

There is an interesting article about this in the Harvard Business Review. They conducted studies with groups and found that meditation helped participants clear their minds, focus more on the task at hand, and come up with original solutions.

The group that used meditation demonstrated a 22% wider range of ideas than the two non-meditating groups.

Better ideas, better decision making, and a better mood. That’s the link that makes mindfulness a creative quality.

Just to point out before an expert on this subject gets really annoyed with this article … while mindfulness is an important part of engaging in meditation, it can also be practiced without engaging in the actual act of meditating. That’s the disclaimer.

Mindfulness: a technique in which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them.”

– The Dictionary

The practice of mindfulness is gaining popularity in the business world. It’s gained interest because it changes the wiring and makeup of our brains; allowing us to better manage stress and anxiety.

Have you had a moment of heightened stress or frustration and unexpectedly found the ability to say to yourself, “Wait a sec…” before allowing your emotions to consume you or burst out. I am not a robot, things do get to me but that little voice in my head really helps and I don’t think he got there on his own. I think that it’s taken some practice.

I do not consider myself to be a pro at mindfulness but I have taken advice. During the day I stop and and just breathe. At first it’s a little bit unpleasant because I have an impulse to fidget. But then after a minute I feel calmer and all the little thoughts buzzing around my head simmer down. Dare I say it but I start to feel relaxed. We’re probably talking 2 to 5 minutes in total. That’s all I can really manage but I’m aiming to get better.

I think with something like mindfulness, you need to start out slowly, like a beginner swimming in the shallow end. I’m nowhere near the deep end but I want to nurture my creative potential and that of the people I work with, so mindfulness remains on my agenda this year. If you are the same or if you teach mindfulness, drop me a message and we can continue the discussion.

Thanks for reading. More still to come!

Tom Marshall

Creative Director, Captive North

tom@captivenorth.co.uk