Improve your Performance with Mindfulness
Mindfulness has become very popular in recent years and its many benefits are known widely. Studies show mindfulness aids anxiety and depression, to the extent that the NHS has published sections on its website to share introductions to practices. For those fortunate enough not to struggle with mental health concerns, there is a great benefit to mindfulness - improve your performance in life overall. Inspired by the great science communicator, Frank Burnet, I wanted to share performance techniques and their parallels to mindfulness to improve overall performance in keys areas of life.
How Performers Use Mindfulness
Performers, artists and presenters use mindfulness to produce their show. A performance artist will take steps to become focused and present on their 'act' before a show. This is a form of mindfulness practice. To be fully present with your own body, words and pauses convey to others your clear message.
So, if you want to perform well at something there are two aspects that you need to bring to the table:
- Focus on the task, and
- Clear Action
A performance artist when in the throes of the show must fully embody their message to others. This requires the focus on the task and its contents, whether words, music or movement. To know the content comprehensively beyond pure recitation, but the message that emotionally and energetically is to be conveyed. For this task to be the full awareness of that moment for the artist.
The artist brings only the actions of the task to be conveyed. Any movement of the body should not distract from the task at hand. A barrister is trained that during advocacy each movement of the body is to enhance the point to the judge or jury. No movement is to be made that may detract from the task at hand - to convey the message of the advocate about their client's case.
You do not want to put on an act each time you become mindful. It is about coming into the moment with focus and clarity for your best performance and best self at that moment.
ENTER YOUR PERFORMANCE MOMENT:
- Stop. Take 3 cycles of deep breaths.
- Say to yourself. "Dive. Dive. Dive" as imagine dropping down into a quiet space.
- Move. Walk to spot for performance and say to yourself "This is my kingdom"
Performance at Work
It can be easier to see mindfulness in your work because you may be less emotionally engaged. You can take that objective witness stance to your work task and complete it with full presence. If you know your role and it's component parts, it may be simple to focus and take the steps to complete your task.
Work may not be easy for you to detach from emotionally. Your colleagues or workplace culture may require you to anticipate your colleague's moods and reactions, making work like playing a layered chess game. This challenges mindfulness at work.
You must stay aligned with your best performance accounting for the work demands. Be aware of your mindset - are there times of day when you communicate better and other times for quiet focus? When you select a task that suits your energy you are more likely to be mindful of the task. What if you must do a task that you are not in the 'mode' to perform?
HOW TO MINDFULLY PERFORM AT WORK:
- Switch Off: Turn off your sounds of alarms & notifications around your desk. Turn screens & pop-ups to 'off'.
- Breathe: At your desk, take 5 cycles of breath slowly, letting the breath fill down to your sit bones.
- Ask: What steps do you need to take for this task?
- Witness: Notice any feelings/body sensations about this task or a specific step.
- Wait: Can you allow this feeling to be watched at the moment?
- Begin the task: With your pace of breath as your rhythm begin the task actions always keeping the pace of the breath as your metronome.
- Checkin: When the breath metronome gets lost or speeds up, come back to the cycles of breath. Reset & start again.
There are many moments in life to perform to your best - to perform as a friend, lover, sibling or parent - are all roles that you want to mindfully perform. To bring yourself fully to the moment in these relationships takes self-knowledge about what you want from these relationships and situations. Ongoing life relationships have less clear tasks and actions to guide each moment.
At this point, intuition becomes your script. Intuition is your taskmaster. It shows you what you want. You have to discover what 'yes', 'no' and 'undecided' feel like in your body. Then you can check-in with these feelings to guide you in less clear scenarios.
You need a simple tool, like a performer, that gets you into the task with clarity. Try out this simple meditation to learn how to check-in with your intuition. Over time this becomes easier to drop in quicker to your intuition and becomes a practical way to become mindful of your task and actions.
Want something more specific to hone your personal or at work performance? We provide one-to-one programs designed to your goals to uncover your mindful self and conscious living.