We’re living in a world that seems to get faster by the moment.  Where instant gratification has become the expectation.  And immediate response has become the norm.  A world that makes it difficult to take a moment for yourself, let alone shut down for a real vacation.

As a result, “multitasking” has become the new normal.  The reality is, however, is that multitasking is a fallacy.  We’re not really doing more than one thing at once, we’re just switching from task-to-task quickly.  And that can actually make you less productive, less creative and less focused.  As well as more stressed out and more easily distracted.


So how do you cope?  Recently, a CHFA team member offered to host a lunch-and-learn on the topic of mindfulness.  Which led us to initiate weekly meditation moments.  And while there is always room for more – this made a great starting point for many of us. 

Mindfulness essentially means moment-to-moment awareness.  When you are mindful, you are keenly aware of yourself and your surroundings, but you simply observe these things as they are.  You are aware of your thoughts and feelings, but you don’t react to them in the way you do when you’re just running through the day on autopilot.  By not labelling or judging what going on around you, you are free from your tendency to react.

Sounds easy enough in theory.  The reality is, that being mindful, is hard work.  Especially at first.  So, we introduced the weekly meditation sessions to give us all a specific time and place to practice mindfulness. 

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Meditation is the practice of engaging in a mental exercise for the purpose of reaching a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.  While this also sounds simple, it can actually be hard.  It can be difficult to tame your thoughts and focus on the present for even a few minutes.  One of the things I found most helpful was to understand that if you do have random thoughts (such as what’s next on your to do list or what to make for dinner) while you’re meditating, you can simply acknowledge that you had the thought and then move on. 

Getting started can be easy.  If you know someone who practices meditation, don’t hesitate to ask them to talk to you about it.  Look for a group or class near you that suits your particular needs.  There are a number of options available in most communities.   And of course, there are a lot of really popular apps for meditation and mindfulness if you prefer to practice alone at a time that’s convenient for you.

During our introduction to mindfulness, we were also shown a few mnemonics to help us remember to STOPP: stop(p), take a breath, observe, pull-back and practice. Or RAIN: recognize what’s going on, allow the experience to be, investigate and achieve natural awareness.  But my favourite was this analogy which was shared, “When things are moving too quickly, take a moment to get out of the current, sit by its bank and listen to it, learn from it. Thoughts are like a river – sometimes mellow, sometimes overflowing and raging.”

This week, take a moment to be mindful, mellow your thoughts and see how it benefits you. 

Emily Arsenault