Reflecting in the Moment: 5 Take-Aways

We enjoyed spending October digging into the ways in which we can be in the moment with you. As we reflect on what we shared (and learned!) this month, there are five key take-aways that we want to leave you with.

Learn to MeditateOctober
One way we can be in the moment is through meditation. Although it may be typical to spend several minutes in meditation, you can always take a few moments during the day to practice this kind of mindfulness quickly but intentionally. Find a quiet space, sit comfortably and remember 5, 3, 8, 1.

  • Inhale and count to 5
  • Hold your breath and count to 3
  • Exhale and count to 8
  • Hold your breath and count to 1

Repeat as needed and experience the benefits of mindful and focused attention.

Set aside time for yourself during the day
You know that saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”? We believe that it is a pretty accurate message. Consider this an encouragement to designate time for yourself each day. If you find it’s difficult to do so, maybe these strategies will help get you started:

  • Make an appointment with yourself and put it in your calendar
  • Ask someone you trust to help keep you accountable by checking in with you
  • Set an encouraging reminder
  • Know you deserve the time for yourself

Take the time to read
If you don’t consider yourself to be a reader, we hope we can change your mind. There are so many compelling reasons to read. And spending some time with a book could be the way in which you take time for yourself each day (see our point above, friends).

Find your mindfulness activity
Mindfulness, or focused awareness, is another way we can stay in the moment. Plus, it can help us to reduce stress and become more resilient. But here’s the thing. In order for a mindfulness practice to work for you, you need to do something that, well, works for you. When selecting an activity, it’s important for you choose one that fits your style, your schedule, your goals, etc.

Not sure what kind of activity would work for you? We’ve compiled several for you to try.

Do you have anything to add to our take-aways from the past month?
Drop them in the comments!

Mindfulness Matters: Day 7

As leaders, the contributions you make to the causes and communities you care about can be energizing and fulfilling! Effecting positive change in the world around us is important. We also understand that the work of leadership can be demanding as well. We may find ourselves feeling stuck! Living and leading with integrity isn’t always easy, but it is always possible — especially when we take care of ourselves. One way to accomplish this is through mindfulness.

Earlier this month, we used Day 7 to explore why mindfulness matters. Throughout the day, we shared some mindfulness matters activities with the LeaderShape community. And our community engagement team shared their own mindfulness practices.

Practicing mindfulness can decrease stress, improve concentration, and even boost creativity. And we want this for you!

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We have compiled those mindfulness matters activities from Day 7 here for you. Try them out and see which ones help you to connect to the present moment and be compassionate with yourself. Then put mindfulness into practice by continuing that activity and creating a habit that will help support you . 

If you have a story of why mindfulness matters to you, please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear more mindfulness matters stories!

Mindfulness Matters

Although it can be energizing, the work that a committed leader puts into a cause or community can be also draining. We may find ourselves feeling stuck! Living and leading with integrity is no simple task, but it is possible.

Often, we start intentional conversations of leadership with one simple question: Why? We focus our passion, our work, and our reasoning around that ask. I would like to share my own experience of failure, delayed reflection, and burnout. You might be asking, why tell you this story? To be simple, I will say this: mindfulness matters.  

Within the first few weeks of college, I became involved with multiple clubs on campus as a committee member and soon was invested in all things campus life. From planning events and helping with Orientation, to giving tours and becoming the college mascot, it was never just one thing. Yet student involvement, which gave me the highest highs indirectly led to my lowest lows.

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My third year in college was by far the most challenging. To give context, I was committed to the following:

  • Served as the liaison between Student Government Association and Student Activities Board (in which executive board meetings ranged from 1 hour to 2.5 hours, each);
  • Volunteered off campus six hours/week through my scholarship;
  • Acted as the college mascot at campus and community events to increase overall spirit;
  • Held an on-campus job as a tour guide;
  • Took five 300 level courses; and
  • Floated between two vastly different friend groups

People would ask me how I balanced it all and my short answer would be along the lines of no idea, but in reality, I followed my passions. All of those bullet points gave me tremendous energy and happiness at different times throughout the semester; if one was draining, I would bounce to a different point.

Because of this high level of involvement and the mismanagement of my time, I was not aware that I was spreading myself so thin; my grades suffered, the quality of work diminished and going to events or being with friends felt like a chore. Instead of adding to my college experience, all of these things were just checks in a long list of things I had to do each day.  

While giving a speech to incoming freshman, I remember saying, “Throughout my time [in college], one of the best decisions I made was becoming involved in various aspects of Student Life.” I still stand by that statement 100%, but in hindsight, were there times where if I were to take a step back and reflect in the moment my stress levels would decrease? Absolutely. An advisor once told me (and I am paraphrasing here), “You cannot help others until you take care of yourself”. Those words still ring true to this day. Whenever I find myself stretched too thin or ignoring my own well-being, I think back to that moment.

Moving beyond actively thinking, I reach towards a pen and paper. For me, all I need is a space where I am alone and an instrumental movie score playing in my headphones for the writing to commence. Every entry is different, given that every experience, emotion, and thought I have prior to writing is different – there is no specific, step-by-step formula of what I write about. There are, however, themes of reflecting upon the day and looking forward to what the following day, or week, will bring. 

Only through lived experience did I realize, and understand why, mindfulness matters. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you; I hope that you learned something along the way.

If you have a story of why mindfulness matters to you, send LeaderShape an email at community@leadershape.org

Colby Brown is a Community Engagement Intern for LeaderShape. He participated in the Institute (2015), served as an On-Site Coordinator for national sessions of the Institute (2017, 2018), and recently participated in Catalyst (2018). As a retired mascot and recent graduate, he spends his young professional life giving back and pursuing a graduate degree in Higher Education, Student Affairs.